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4.3 out of 5 stars
Manhunter [VHS] [1986]
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 24 February 2007
Manhunter is an absolutely fantastic film full stop - the only niggle is that every time it's released (in the UK at least) it always turns out to be a slightly different version of the film. The video was a different cut to the first DVD which is a different cut to the two on here, although at least one of these now claims to be the definitive director's cut. Strangely in these later cuts Michael Mann has removed once and for all a 30 second sequence where Will Graham expresses a great sympathy for the Tooth Fairy on one level before declaring that the Tooth Fairy should be executed as soon as possible. It's a strange cut because the rest of that scene is left completely intact - he's just removed 3 lines of dialogue from the middle. As an aside, for fans of the soundtrack 2 of the 3 previously hard to find Shriekback songs used in the film are now readily available on the CD Oil & Gold.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 15 February 2005
The opening sequence keeps me awake at night, years on from watching this film from Michael Mann. Understated, and very, very believable, it taps into our worst fears about our home being invade by a psycopathic killer in the dead of night.
What was that creaking noise? Was it the wind, or - should I get up and go and have a look? If you are of a nervous disposition, best get something else as this is about the creepiest cop hunts killer film ever, in my humble opinion.
Of course, Mr Mann is a genius, so what do you expect.
My advice, 1. watch the film, and 2. never read reviews, it only spoils the experience by prejudging it.
So why write one? Well I have not mentioned the plot, the acting or the other films of Thomas Harris's books. This one is easily the best in my view, although the Silence of the Lambs was a bit good too.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 4 June 2003
Forget if anyone tells you different, the remake of this, Red Dragon, however close to the book it was, is no match for this original version of Tom Harris' book.
Allthough the actors in this might not be as well known as RD's cast, the performances are spot on. Mainly thanks to the fantastic direction from Michael Mann.
Brian Cox is especially brilliant in a small role as the original Hannibal Lecktor and William Petersen is suprisingly good as Will Graham, capturing the emotional vulnerability of the character, again this is thanks to a super script from Mann.
The plot in case you didn't know it is Will Graham (Petersen) is brought back from retirement by FBI boss Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina, another wonderful performance) to hunt down a brutal serial killer known as the "Tooth Fairy" (played with exceptional chillingness by Tom Noonan) however, he is not the man he once was and is forced to consult imprisoned Hannibal Lecktor (Cox) for help in the case.
This disc has been released twice before, but never as good as this, a two-disc version with two cuts of the film, a couple of documentaries and an insightful commentary from Michael Mann.
If you haven't seen this before, I couldn't recommend it enough.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 11 December 2006
I can't praise this film enough, it's delivered everything I have come to expect from Mann and also a thoroughly intriguing angle on the lector franchise. Watch it now, trust me, it's absolutely fantastic.

OK, so first things first, as all the other reviews here will support me on this is very different from the lector franchise delivered to us by SOTL and it's sequel Hannibal, and though it is based on the same novel as Red Dragon it is completely separate there too.

This is first and foremost a film about Will Graham and not lector, who plays a pivotal, memorable, but nonetheless supporting part in the story. Graham is an extremely interesting character and I liked the way his character development was drawn out and slow burning throughout the movie. The plot I won't spoil for you beyond the first scene, where we learn a mysterious killer has been attacking families who are apparently unrelated and graham is asked to aid the investigation.

Direction by Michael Mann is superb as always but you can tell this is a slightly experimental Mann who has not gained the refinement and expertise that brought us Heat and Collateral. But he still has is obsession with detail, his eye for the perfect shot, and of course a lot of the color blue. Action here lacks the realism he later gains but then most of the violence in this film is suggested and seen in past tense instead of being explicitly shoved in the viewers face - a technique which actually I find far more disturbing.

As I said before i loved this film and the extras are alright, the extended edition is good but not essential. I recommend this over the 1 disc edition unless there is a significant price difference. Enjoy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2010
This is the original version of the Hannibal Lecter film and stars Brian Cox in the Hannibal role. He really gets into the character and out-acts Hopkins. William Peterson (CSI) is also excellent as the FBI investigator and the film is pretty true to the book. I prefer this film to any of the other Hannibal films and wish they had retained Cox throughout the series.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2002
Having read "Red Dragon" I naturally wanted to see the film, and thankfully I was not disappointed, even though the plot has been changed slightly in places. I already had high hopes for the film, as I had read that Tom Noonan was playing the part of the serial killer, Francis Dollarhyde. Noonan is a superb actor in my opinion, although he is better known for writing plays. One only has to see his remarkable performance as a repulsive child killer in an episode of "the X Files", or as a disabled computer hacker in the film "Heat", to see that he is utterly convincing in every role he takes on. I was therefore interested in how he was going to take on such a difficult role as Dollarhyde.
Admittedly Dollarhyde's "struggle" has been toned down a little from the book, but he is essentially the same, and Noonan still manages to effectively gain the viewer's sympathy for the character, most notably in the moving scene where Dollarhyde places Reba's hand over his wound and cries.
This is not to ignore William Petersen's magnetic performance as troubled FBI agent Will Graham. His moody expression displays just how haunted Graham is by his "gift" (being able to penetrate the minds of demented killers). One might wonder why Graham would put himself through such trauma again, but all doubts are shoved aside during the scene with his wife at the water's edge, where Graham says, in a hard-edged voice much louder than his usual tone: "This killing...it's got to stop." This tells us that Graham, no matter how much he hates it, knows he is the only hope for the serial killer's next target. It is a wonderful moment in the film, and confirms my opinion that Petersen is certainly one of the most underrated actors.
Of course, the main selling-point for the film now is the fact that it is the first film to feature Hannibal Lecter (or "Lecktor" as it is spelt here). Brian Cox puts in a magnificent performance, much more understated than Anthony Hopkins' portrayel. The stand-out point is when Lecktor and Graham's conversation starts getting quicker, and slightly more good-natured, until suddenly Lecktor springs the trap: "Would you like to leave me your home phone number?" Although we know that Graham would never be so foolish, it is a heart-stopping moment, and you almost can't help screaming "No! Don't give him your number!".
The film is wedged deeply in the 80's, with a wonderful syntho soundtrack provided by "the Reds", and it could almost stand as an example of 80's fashion, with black-on-black suits etc.
I can't leave without complimenting on Michael Mann's brilliant direction, which always reminds me why he is my favourite director.
All in all, a brilliant thriller, which sucks you in with its outstanding performances and unique style.
The special documentary on the video is also good, with some interesting anecdotes from the stars, notably how Tom Noonan wasn't allowed to have contact with any of his co-stars except when they shared scenes together, to increase the mystery of the character. Also very telling is Petersen's account of how he had to dye his hair blond for a play he was doing after shooting the film, just so he could get the character of Will Graham out of his head.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
'Manhunter' is a product of the marvellous director Michael Mann (Thief, The Last of the Mohicans, Heat, The Insider, Collateral), who applies his usual array of cinematic, artistic and musical application talents to make a film which is my all-time favourite.

It has all the ingredients you could wish for: a stylistic production, excellent acting, realistic characters, a thrilling tempo, mystery, terror, drama, human emotions and (above all) a fantastic accompanying soundtrack.

The film is based on the Thomas Harris book 'Red Dragon' from his Hannibal Lecter series; this story being the 'prequel' to 'The Silence of the Lambs'. The book has more recently been remade into a film with the 'correct' title, but whilst it follows the novel storyline more accurately it does not compare to 'Manhunter' as a cinematic experience...

Dating from the mid-80's, the plot and film are most certainly the stimulus for such programmes as 'Cracker' and 'CSI' (and latterly series like 'Criminal Minds'), due to the forensically detailed nature of the investigation, but especially the criminal psychology aspect depicted superbly by the character Will Graham (it is probably no coincidence that he is played by the subsequently famous star of CSI, William Petersen !).

The way the film shows the tracking down of the serial killer, and the fact that he is revealed to the viewer before the detectives have found him, helps to build a multi-layered storyline as well as being unusual (until copied by the later programmes mentioned above). Although obviously covering extreme violence, the film rarely depicts it in any other way than by implication, description and/or aftermath imagery. This does not detract from the horror theme and, in my opinion, enhances the chilling nature of the subject !

Various matters that I have already alluded to mean that first-time viewers of Manhunter should avoid perhaps being slightly 'under whelmed', by remembering that any similarities to other films they have seen are because they copied it ! Also, to avoid any perception of it being dated, it is essential to watch the restored version as that brings the picture quality and soundtrack up to modern standards...There is also some rather 'clunky' dialogue at the beginning between Graham and his detective friend Jack Crawford which might make some stop watching there and then, but things improve dramatically from then on...

Despite the viewer already knowing who the murderer is, the 'revelation' of him being detected is stunningly portrayed by Peterson as he speaks his thought processes out loud. Whilst the key clue is there all along, I doubt any viewer will have figured it out before he does !

William Petersen portrays his disturbed and gradually fixated/overwhelmed character extremely well, Hannibal Lecter (Brian Cox) is played beautifully as a chillingly reserved monster, and the serial killer (Tom Noonan) shows all the character 'flaws' required of someone who feels killing is a solution to their issues with great skill; the book obviously covers those aspects more fully than the film....

Finally, a few words about the soundtrack. Mann is well-known for his talent to apply suitable music to his productions and this is no exception (which is why the best sound quality DVD issue is worth getting !). The original music blends beautifully with the plot progression but, more significantly, the addition of existing commercial tracks from talented groups such as 'Shriekback' and 'Iron Butterfly' make the production quite outstanding (they prompted me to explore the music of those groups more and buy their albums).

The background of Shriekbacks 'Evaporation' to Graham's back yard detection scene is enthralling, 'This Big Hush' provides a marvellous backdrop to the serial killer 'love' scene. However, the true highlights are the use of 'Coelocanth' to support the 'Tiger in the vet's' scene and the climax of the film relying on 'In A Gadda Da Vida' by Iron Butterfly.

It is noteworthy that the artistic nature of Mann's direction is especially evident in the climax, as the film is edited to fit in with that 10 minute-long music track, rather than the music being applied to the film.

SEE THIS FILM !!!

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One point worth bearing in mind that a definitive DVD edition does not really exist as the various issues all have flaws and varying 'cuts' (variations even exist between those issues labelled 'Theatrical Cut' and 'Director's Cut' !).

I own the Region 1 Limited Edition Anchor Bay 2-disc effort (as it was the 1st special re-issue), the Restored Region 2 UK Directors Cut (for the commentary and other extras) and lately have acquired the Region 2 issue originating from Japan which has DTS, a good image transfer and has the 'definitive' Theatrical cut !

All these newer issues have a very good picture quality and soundtrack, so you can't really go wrong with any of them.

However, various tweaks (mostly detrimental) have been made to later issues, including the omission of crucial exchanges between Graham and the police and latterly between Graham and Crawford. Whilst the addition of some scenes is welcome, I cannot fathom why some scenes have been 'cut' like this when they are so important to the overall plot...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Manhunter is the prequel to Silence of the Lambs. Though it is not as high profile as the follow up, many will argue that this is the better film. Those that are expecting a low budget, artless introduction to Hannibal Lector, with bad acting are in for a surprise. A lot of people will list Manhunter as one of there favourite films.
The acting is superb. Tom Noonan plays the serial killer in his unusual style. Scottish actor Brian Cox plays Hannibal Lector. Is Brian Cox's Lector better than Hopkins? Cox's Lector portrayal is a lot less flamboyant, and almost seems casual than Hopkins's and as a result is more convincing. Personally I prefer Cox's performance.
William L Peterson plays Will Graham and is absolutely fantastic. Will Graham is the Manhunter of the title. Graham is able emulate the killers dark thoughts in his own imagination but doesn't know how to cope with them. Graham makes a fascinating hero and the character is brought wonderfully to life by Peterson.
The film is also visually striking, extremely tense and feels utterly unique. Manhunter is a brilliant film.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
First of all: Accept no imitations - Manhunter will always be the definitive Hannibal Lecter movie, even if they do decide to 're-make' the film under the original title of 'Red Dragon', which has been widely rumoured for many months now.
After the disappointing original UK DVD release of Manhunter from BMG, and the ambitious, but ultimately flawed Region 1 editions from Anchor Bay, this new release is the definitive edition of the film to own.
Momentum have wisely decided to avoid using the obscure Director's Cut of the film and have stuck with what appears to be the original theatrical cut, which is a great start. Whilst some of the extras included here are identical to those found on the USA release, as a bonus you also get a 53 page book about Manhunter and the other Lecter films called 'Michael Mann's Head Games.' Although the book is far from being a 100% definitive guide to the film, it is still the finest companion to this excellent film which has been written to date.
Overall then, this is another highly impressive release from Momentum and one which will satisfy all fans of the work of Michael Mann, Thomas Harris and Hannibal himself! Don't miss it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 14 June 2003
this truely is a scary film. i found that is was excellently made with a super performance by Brian Cox as Hannibal Lecter and Tom Noonan as Francis Dollarhyde (Tooth Fairy). it is weirdly styleized giving it a terrifying atmosphere to this picture. i have no doubts this is the best in the Hannibal Lecter series.
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