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John Woo: ‘Action films can deliver true feelings’

Oct 16,2017
BUSAN - Hong Kong action film master John Woo’s highly anticipated thriller “Manhunt” got a press screening at the 22nd Busan International Film Festival on Saturday.

The film marks Woo’s first action thriller in 14 years. He shot to global fame through such movies as “A Better Tomorrow,” “The Killer” and “Hard Boiled” before relocating to Hollywood in 1993. In Hollywood, he shot such global action blockbusters as “Mission: Impossible II,” “Face/Off” and “Windtalkers.” Despite the commercial success of those movies, he returned to Chinese cinema a decade ago with “Red Cliff” and “The Crossing” and also executive-produced a remake of the cult hit “A Better Tomorrow.”

“I think action movies can deliver the true feelings and thoughts of people. Through action films, we can deliver our stories more powerfully and romantically,” Woo said, expressing his fondness for the genre during a press conference after the screening.

“I liked musicals when I was young, and I think musicals are similar to action movies because action, in some ways, looks like dancing or musicals.”

Woo said working together with action movie stars and stunt men always invigorates and amuses him. “I like their spirit of challenging themselves through action, overcoming their limits and helping each other,” he said.

The 70-year-old director positively answered when questioned if he will keep shooting action in the future, but he showed a desire to challenge other fields as well.

“If chance permits, I want to make a film introducing different cultures in different countries. For me, that would serve a chance to study again. And I’m going to shoot my next film in a certain European country,” he said, without mentioning the name of the country.

“Manhunt” is a remake of the 1976 Japanese classic action movie “You Must Cross the River of Wrath.” Dedicated to the original film’s main actor, the late Takakura Ken, “Manhunt” is about a lawyer, played by award-winning Chinese actor Zhang Hanyu, who is framed for murder and sets out on a difficult solo mission to clear his name.

Japanese heartthrob actor and singer Masaharu Fukuyama plays the detective chasing Zhang’s character.

Woo said since the original story is set in the 1970s, he changed the story and many details to meet the tastes of today’s audiences.

Two female killers, played by Chinese director-actress Angeles Woo, daughter of the director, and South Korean actress Ha Ji-won were part of the changes.

“They are the first female killer characters ever to appear in my films,” said the director. “I think the story became more rich thanks to their presence.”

Ha said it was a great honor for her to be in Woo’s movie and that she experienced no major trouble in communicating with the international cast members.

“What I like the most about being in an action film was that I could use body language to communicate with Japanese and Chinese actors. So, there was no major difficulty.”

Angeles Woo said she especially enjoyed working with her father again for the film following her successful acting debut with John Woo’s film “Jianyu” (2010).

“When I was offered the part in ‘Manhunt,’ it was a bit surprising, a wonderful surprise, I mean. Doing action and working with my dad again in this was wonderful.”

Yonhap