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on July 24, 2003
First off, the movie itself is excellent. I give it 4 stars. I bought this movie back in 1987, remembering that I wanted to see it based on previews at the theaters, but I never got to see it until it came out on VHS. However, this DVD release get's 3 stars only because it's nothing really special and it's the Limited Edition's Director's Cut with the video much improved. But, it still has a glaring omission that I will cover later in this review.
I remember Showtime advertising a Director's Cut of the movie and I remember it being so much better than the theatrical version. The one scene that especially stands out in my mind is the final confrontation between Dolarhyde and Graham. First off, Graham has a 38 Bulldog special which only holds 5 rounds. Also, he is using Glazer safety slugs. In the theatrical version, Graham gets off six shots. WHOOPS! In the Director's cut, they get it right. He only fires 5 shots. Also, with Glazers, the bullet does NOT travel through the body. The whole point of Glazers is that they explode on impact, preventing them from passing through the intended target and possibly hitting someone behind them. In the theatrical version, you see blood spray after the 2nd or 3rd shot hitting the kitchen wall behind Dolarhyde. This would not happen with Glazers. Also, due to the impact and explosion of the bullet upon impact, anyone hit would have been down on the first shot.
In the director's cut, the blood spray never happens, although there is blood on the back wall. I guess Mann decided to cut out the scene that contained the spray rather than reshoot it since the director's cut came out on Showtime some couple of years after the movie was released in theatres.
With the theatrical and limited edition that Anchor Bay released, I got what I was looking for, but only to a degree.
First off, the DVD theatrical version is NOT the true theatrical version. There are extra scenes added that were NOT in the theatrical version. Also, a scene where Graham sympathizes with Dolarhyde before the final confrontation is left out for some unknown reason. The Director's Cut is still not the TRUE director's cut that I saw on Showtime because of the missing scene just mentioned. However, it was the only version available, but the picture was horrible. Colors bled and overall, it appeared to have been copied from a pirated copy on VHS. That's how bad it looked.
Much to my surprise, I was looking at a local store and saw the Restored Director's Cut. I was excited to finally have what was not given to us before. Or, so I thought. I guess the sentence that sold me was the one on the back of the DVD case: "The restoration of this Director's Cut was overseen by Michael Mann to bring you the definitive version of this chilling classic." I guess I thought since Mann oversaw this version, I figured it would have the complete movie in it.
To begin with, unlike the theatrical version that Anchor Bay released, this is only in Dolby 2.0. Not a big problem. The picture through MOST of this version is excellent. Apparently, they used the theatrical version for most of the movie. However, you can tell when it switches to the director's cut scenes because they are not as crisp and clear as the theatrical scenes, but it is still a big improvement over the first Anchor Bay Director's Cut. However, the scene with Graham sympathizing with Dolarhyde is STILL missing. The actual scene is as follows:
Agent Jack Crawford FBI: You feel sorry for him.
Will Graham: As a child, my heart bleeds for him. Someone took a little boy and turned him into a monster. But as an adult... as an adult, he's irredeemable. He butchers whole families to fulfill some sick fantasy. As an adult, I think someone should blow the ... out of his socks.
This scene is still absent for whatever reason and many of us fans feel it is too bad that it's missing. It's a powerful statement that actually hints as to what drives Dolarhyde to become such a brutal killer. It actually coincides with what is explained about Dolarhyde in the book.
What is nice is to have Michael Mann's commentary. At one point, he does briefly explain that DEG went bankrupt in the 1980s, making it impossible to find the original film prints for many of the scenes. So, this possibly explains the reason why the Director's Cut scenes are still grainy and also why the ommitted scene is still missing. It's too bad, but apparently, there are European versions of the theatrical release that contain the missing scene, so why they could get ahold of it, but Anchor Bay could not doesn't make much sense.
Other than that, this DVD doesn't have much to offer. There are still pictures of deleted and alternate scenes, a trailer, and those with a DVD ROM can read the script in PDF format. Since many scenes were filmed with Tom Noonan with the Red Dragon tatoo on him, it's too bad they couldn't have put those into a deleted scenes section. But, then again, maybe due to DEG going bankrupt, they couldn't find the original prints for those scenes.
If you have the Limited Edition and theatrical version, keep it since there is nothing else special about this DVD. Still, to have a better looking Director's Cut, this DVD is worth it.
Due to the lack of special features (except for Mann's commentary) AND the still missing scene, this DVD release gets a 3-star rating. Still, it's worth having to complete your Hannibal collection (and I still think it's better than the remake, although that's a good movie as well).
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on July 23, 2003
Even though RED DRAGON released last year ...
This adaptation was made four years before SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and was based on the earlier Thomas Harris novel RED DRAGON. They did not call it RED DRAGON, because there was another movie that year with DRAGON in the title that did not do so well...and the studio feared it would get confused with that film. It's driected by Michael Mann who is famous for MIAMI VICE, and yes it shows in this film. But it's a grueling fast-paced reality-based thriller similar to SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Big challenge is they had to vocalize Will Graham's thoughts in the book into actual lines in the movie. Sometimes you can tell the film was made on a smallish budget in the mid-80s, but on the whole? It holds up today as a great adaptation of a great book! It's a fun movie, and if you are a fan of the other thrillers like SILENCE OF THE LAMBS this will be right up your alley. Yes, there is a wonderful appearance by Hannibal the infamous cannibal -- though not much is made of his modus operandi. He is never referred to as a cannibal. But Brian Cox's portrayal is strong if brief. The real stars here are the actors portraying Will Graham and the killer. Both give creepy a human edge as they play cat and mouse with each other. And fans of Joan Allen -- her portrayal of the blind Reba is amazingly well done. Sexy and stylish, not too much gore, and very tight pacing. I can't be more effusive about this movie.
DIVIMAX DVD presentation of the film with added scenes before only seen on television showings. The only problem with that is you see a difference in the film quality when they go to these scenes. They really don't add too much, but worth a look. Also in this version is a commentary from Michael Mann. He's not as chatty as some directors, but gives you a good idea of what he wanted out of this thriller.
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on July 22, 2003
I know Silence of the Lambs is more popular in the series than this one, but I think this is a better movie. It stars William Petersen as Will Graham, a semi-retired FBI profiler, who is called into service to catch a highly methodical serial killer. Will has the unique ability to get into the killers' mind, see what he sees, understand the motives behind the crimes. Only problem is when he gets so close, lets all those bad thoughts in, it's difficult to deal with them, as they sort of poison his mind. This, along with the physical injuries he sustained on a previous case, forced him to go into semi-retirement/seclusion with his family.
At the time this movie came out, I got the feeling that profiling of serial killers was a fairly new science, and not yet deemed as useful of a tool as it could be. This is represented in the meeting Will attends with a group of FBI agents who are working on the new case, with the killer named 'The Tooth Fairy'. It's not that they derided him when he presented the information in the course of his profiling, but you felt like they looked at him like he was making psychic predictions and his input wasn't all that credible. That was my opinion, and I may be wrong. Anyway, it was amazing to go with Will to the murder scenes and see things they way he saw them, that is to say they way the killer may have seen them. He uncovers clues missed during previous investigations, clues that help to further along the case against the ever elusive Tooth Fairy.
Some really great scenes involve Will visiting Dr. Hannibal Lecktor, played by Brian Cox. While I thought Anthony Hopkins did a great job in the part in the following movies, I will always visualize Brian Cox as Lecktor. He brought such a subtle and sublime presence to the part, and underlying evil that is so evident that his prison walls, while managing to keep his physical being, seems unable to contain his spirit of evil. Will visits Dr. Lecktor, the most recent serial killer he caught and the one that made him leave the work behind, to try and develop the scent, so to speak, get the feeling back, to track this new killer.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the methodical investigation performed by the FBI. They weren't made to look like a bunch of fools, in that clues just fell out of the sky and the case solved itself. The scene where the letter from the killer to Lecktor is scrutinized but different groups within the FBI was really fascinating. It was amazing to see how much they could do with so little information.
Dennis Farina has a great role as FBI section chief Jack Crawford, the person who brings Will back into the world that he tried to put out of his life. He knows Will is the best, even if he doesn't understand his methods. He shows a genuine friendship for Will, concern for when he thinks Will is getting in too deep, but has to travel a fine line between friendship and duty, which sometimes gets blurred and causes conflicts. One of my favorite lines in the movie is when Will and Jack are arguing about it being too late to catch the killer, as the killer operates within a certain time frame, and Will is unwilling to give up, telling Jack "I'll tell you when it's over!" with such conviction. And Tom Noonan does a great job portraying the killer, who always manages to seem a little off kilter with the world around him, out of sync, but sort of hidden from view, like something always in your peripheral vision but never in plain sight.
The scene where the FBI eventually catches up to the killer is one of the most memorable movie moments for me. The music combined with the visuals is incredible. The movie really kept my attention throughout, but the end kept me riveted.
This version looks really good, and I did notice that a few scenes were added, hence the director's cut, and I think they added to the movie. The high definition transfer looks really good. There is also a new commentary by the director, Michael Mann, trailers, promotional stills, advertising materials, and alternate and deleted scenes. On thing I did notice was in some of the pictures, the serial killer has a rather large tattoo on his back, with what looks like wings, but wasn't present in the movie. It looked pretty amazing, and I haven't listen to the director's commentary to see if he explains not using that visual effect, but I would be interested to know why it wasn't used.
This movie will stay with you awhile, and holds up extremely well to repeated viewings. Another really good movie with William Petersen was the one he made before Manhunter, called To Live and Die in LA, which also stars Willem Dafoe. It's not as good as this one, but just as taut and highly intensive viewing, but not on DVD at the time this review was written.
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on July 21, 2003
Before Jonathan Demme's Academy Award winning Silence of the Lambs graced the screen with Anthony Hopkins in all of his visceral glory, Michael Mann's little remembered (and seen) thriller, Manhunter presented a very different kind of Hannibal Lector. While Demme's film opted for over-the-top performances and needlessly gory scenes of violence, Mann's film took a subtler, creepier approach to its material. Manhunter is less interested in depicting the actual killings (the main attraction of this genre when it became popular) than in the cerebral and actual legwork required to enter the killer's frame of mind and track him down.
Anchor Bay had previously released Manhunter on an excellent two-DVD "Limited Edition" set that featured a re-mastered work print (which they mistakenly billed as the "theatrical" cut) and a poor looking director's cut taken from video tape. Both versions featured footage not seen in the actual theatrical release or on VHS. Anchor Bay received so much flak for the substandard version of the director's cut that they had Mann personally supervise a re-mastered version of his preferred cut of the movie.
For fans who bought the Limited Edition set, hold on to your copy because this version has none of the featurettes or the creatively packaged booklet that came with that version. Upon closer scrutiny, it also becomes apparent that Mann did not include all of the added scenes in the Limited Edition's Director's Cut (LEDC). For example, on track 7 when Graham goes to meet Lecktor in his cell the LEDC has him meet with Dr. Chilton briefly who tries to bait Graham much in the same fashion as the Atlanta Police. This footage is not in the Restored Director's Cut. This means that this new DVD is yet another version (bringing the total, if you count the old VHS version, up to four).
Having said that, this version is certainly required viewing for fans of Mann and of Manhunter because of the audio commentary that he contributes to the DVD. While there are the occasional lulls, Mann talks at length and very eloquently about the themes of the movie. He points out that that this was one of the first films to feature a main character who is a profiler of serial killers. Both these terms were not as common as they are today. Mann also talks about his admiration for Thomas Harris' novel and explains that in regards to Lecktor's screen time he opted for the "less is more" approach because the psychiatrist was such a charismatic character. However, while Mann does acknowledge the added footage, he doesn't always explain why he put it back in, nor does he talk about some of the footage he has subsequently cut, like an excellent monologue delivered by Graham in regards to his feelings about Dollarhyde.
Also included are a theatrical trailer and a rather sizable still gallery that consists of production stills, deleted/alternate scenes and posters and advertising materials. While the production stills are a welcome addition, the deleted scenes photos and movie posters are nothing new if you have access to the two excellent Manhunter websites on the Internet...
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on July 18, 2003
MANHUNTER is the first time that the Thomas Harris's novel, RED DRAGON, was put on film. Written and directed by Michael Mann, made in the mid-80s, the movie has that same feel of Mann's television hit, Miami Vice, while staying true to the book. FBI agent Will Graham (William Petersen) is asked to come out of retirement by his former boss, Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina), to aide in tracking down a serial killer, known as "the tooth fairy" (Tom Noonan). Graham is reluctant to help out because he barely captured madman Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Brian Cox) and almost lost his life. He agrees to help out, then, it's determined that Dr. Lecter may hold the key to cracking the case.
The release of Brett Ratner's version of RED DRAGON, has taken the attention off of this adaptation, because of the return of Anthony Hopkins in the Lecter role, but I think that thanks to Michael Mann's craftsmanship as a filmmaker, this version has more going for it than some might think. Even though, this movie has 80s all over it, the performance of Petersen rivals Edward Norton as Graham. Tom Noonan as Francis Dolarhyde/"The Tooth Fairy" gives viewers a less sympathetic look at this killer, than Ralph Finnes does in latest film. Cox is also good as Lecter, but, I have to say that's it's hard not to think of anyone else but Hopkins doing Lecter. Mann delivers a very good film on a limited budget.
Normaly, I hate it when the studios release multiple editions of a film on DVD, but in the case of Manhunter: Divimax edition-at least Anchor Bay made sure the new extras warrant the reissue. The extras now include a fine audio commentary by Mann. This is a rarity for the filmmaker, as an admirer of the film, it's a boon over the previous release to hear his thoughts about the movie. This release also boasts a new high-definition transfer approved by the director that allows for a better quality picture over the standard version. Another plus for me is the deleted and alternate scene gallery. It's pretty cool to see what was left on the cutting room floor and the material is fairly meaty. A production still, advertising gallery, and theatrical trailers top off the extras. A much improved edition for sure. I would say that Mann should do more commetaries for his other films
I think Anthony Hopkins as Lecter will always overshadow Manhunter in some way. But both film versions of the Harris novel have their place. It is interesting to "see" another take on the book-- The newest reissue of MANHUNTER on DVD is recommened. **** and half stars.
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on June 25, 2003
Manhunter is one hell of a movie, let me tell ya! From beginning to end, this movie had me gripped thanks to its stunning cinematography, creppy atmosphere, dynamite direction, powerful writing and top notch acting. I have never seen The Silence of the Lambs or Hannibal, but today I watched Red Dragon. While I enjoyed it, I didn't feel it even compared to Manhunter.
Manhunter is the story of ex-FBI agent Will Graham (flawlessly played by the unforgettable William Peterson). Graham caught two extremely dangerous serial killers, one of which was Dr. Hannibal Lecktor (in the novels and other movie adaptations, it is spelled 'Lector,' but in this movie it is spelled Lecktor). Lecktor (played here, beautifully, by respected Scottish actor Brian Cox, and not Sir Anthony Hopkins) was murdering women and eating them (though it is never mentioned in the whole movie that he is a cannibal) until he was caught by Graham. Graham discovered he had to think like the killer in order to catch him, and it seriously messed with his brain. Now, years later, Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina) asks Will to come back to catch the mysterious "Tooth Fairy" (Tom Noonan), who has been murdering whole families. Graham is skeptical until he sees pictures of the dead families. He interviews Dr. Lecktor, barely able to tolerate Lecktor's mental games, until he starts thinking like the killer once again. If Graham enters the mind of a killer again, can he ever come back, or will he simply go insane under the ugly and disturbing thinkings of one messed up sicko?
Lord, this movie was good! Of the three Thomas Harris novels involving Lecktor (Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal), Red Dragon was the only one I hadn't read, so I couldn't compare this movie version to the book. From what I've read, the movie Red Dragon follows the book a lot better. That may be true, but Manhunter was quite simply the better film. One thing I liked about Manhunter much more than Red Dragon was that you had to have a brain to figure out the plot, but Red Dragon pretty much spelled it out for you. I like movies that have a brain and trust you to have one, too. I thought Red Dragon insulted the audiences intelligence and the end felt EXTREMELY rushed. And call me crazy, but I very much preferred Brian Cox's subtle, quiet Lecktor to Sir Anthony Hopkins' over the top and hammed up performance in Red Dragon. I'm pretty sure I'll like Hopkins' performance in The Silence of the Lambs, but he seemed to be desperately trying to get a scare in Red Dragon. The best praise I can give to Red Dragon is that it made Manhunter seem even more excellent. It may sound like I'm completely bashing Red Dragon, but I am not. I liked that it developed Dollarhyde's past more, and I thought the actors that played Dollarhyde and Reba were both fantastic, but overall I was dissipointed with it after watching the brilliance of Manhunter.
OK, enough comparisons. Manhunter's acting is perfect, right from Graham to his wife and son to Hannibal Lecktor and the Tooth Fairy. William Peterson did a great job with the depressed and strong character who has a weak side. The Tooth Fairy, played by Tom Noonan, was very scary and yet I felt some sympathy for him, because you could tell he was trying to be a good guy but couldn't get over his urge to kill. Brian Cox was amazing because he made such a large impact in only three scenes and less than ten minutes. Joan Allen also did a great job as the blind woman Reba.
The directing of this film is amazing, and is helped greatly by some unforgettable cinematography. The whole film sports an excellent feel and I was never bored.
As for the DVD well, I love it. I own the Limited Edition, copy #12,697 of 100,000. I read several mixed reviews of this. Some people love it, some people think it's OK, and some people simply hate it. Apparantly, the Theatrical Cut is messed up and has two things cut out and two things from the Director's Cut added. Also, people have complained that the Director's Cut edition has horrible picture quality and messed up widescreen format. Well, yes, the picture is very, very below average, but I think we should be happy to have the Director's Cut at all. I am watching it for the second time in Director's Cut format as I write this (I am on the part were they are studying the note) and feel the picture is not very good at all, but after a few minutes, I get used to it. I wouldn't like it if the Theatrical Cut had such bad picture quality, but forunately it doesn't. In fact, the picture on the Theatrical Cut is absoloutly spellbinding, and quite flawless, in my opinion. I would give the amazing picture quality an A- at the very worse! The two documentaries included are short but quite excellent, and the cheesey trailer is included in anamorphic widescreen. The talent bios are some of the best I've ever read and in a lot of detail. I really feel sorry for Tom Noonan because people seemed to be creeped out of him in real life, simply because he is suh a fabulous actor.
This is a very long review, but the bottom line is: Manhunter is a masterpiece and a movie you must own. The Limited Edition DVD is pleasing and the booklet included is also excellent, but for not so avid fans, the 1-disc version is just fine.
Hope my review helped.
Sincerely, Joe.
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on April 14, 2003
the wait is finally over.the real manhunter has been made and it is so true to the book that it retained its name.while manhunter was a toothless yapfest,brett ratners red dragon is like a 15000 lb. 5 headed shark.those who dislike the new version say its because the director used a paint by numbers approach.if the painting was to eventually resemble the book version then so be it.i see nothing wrong with a director focusing in on what the author had intended.what was he supposed to do?a rehash of the sorry m. mann's vision?!? thankfully not!!! brian cox was a non entity here where as in the book/2003 version,hopkins,shall we say,has a hands on mike manns version,its walk around,talktalktalk,appear confused,talktalktalk and roll credits.ratner made sure that would not be the case here.i did like petersons graham over nortons.but thats the only kudos manhunter seems too naive for an agent whos already experienced the hell of his profession.way too sheepish.mike mann can and has directed movies with equal parts talk/action(heat-bordeline though,live and die in L.A.)come to mind.why he decided to yap it up here confused me.well,thank you mr ratner for hearing me conplain and fullfill mr.thomas' true vision of red dragon.
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on February 24, 2003
I do not agree with many of the reviews of this movie. Sure it may be ok for a low budget film but it still isnt good. The movie follows the book Red Dragon very nicely but that isnt a good thing. Sure Red Dragon was a great book but this movie is like listening to the book Red Dragon on an audio tape. It is just too boring. They needed to focus more on Francis Dollarhyde and less on the FBI agents. If they had focused on Dollarhyde and showed the reasons for why he is the way he is and shown what Dollarhyde feels and the ways he thinks hes becoming the Red Dragon this would have been a much better film. One important part that happened in the book that this films lacks is the scene where Dollarhyde feels he is loosing the fight to the Dragon and lossing his mind and goes to the museum and eats the picture. This is a very important part of the book and shows how Dollarhyde wants to change. Then the ending of this movie kills it. The new movie Red Dragon at least some what followed the true ending of the book. The ending of this is made up and is very dull. This was definatly not a huge film but I expected so much more from it.
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on February 24, 2003
I do not agree with many of the reviews of this movie. Sure it may be ok for a low budget film but it still isnt good. The movie follows the book Red Dragon very nicely but that isnt a good thing. Sure Red Dragon was a great book but this movie is like listening to the book Red Dragon on an audio tape. It is just too boring. They needed to focus more on Francis Dollarhyde and less on the FBI agents. If they had focused on Dollarhyde and showed the reasons for why he is the way he is and shown what Dollarhyde feels and the ways he thinks hes becoming the Red Dragon this would have been a much better film. One important part that happened in the book that this films lacks is the scene where Dollarhyde feels he is loosing the fight to the Dragon and lossing his mind and goes to the museum and eats the picture. This is a very important part of the book and shows how Dollarhyde wants to change. Then the ending of this movie kills it. The new movie Red Dragon at least some what followed the true ending of the book. The ending of this is made up and is very dull. This was definatly not a huge film but I expected so much more from it.
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on February 17, 2003
When a former FBI Agent by the name of Will Graham (William Petersen) is asked by his Former Boss (Dennis Farina) to go on a Hunt of a Dangerous Serial Killer known as the Tooth Fairy (Tom Noonan), who Preys on families. The only person, who could help Will on the Case, Beside his Boss, is Serial Killer, Dr. Hannibal Lector (Brian Cox).
Directed by Micheal Mann (Ali, Heat, Thief) made a Strong Stylized Thriller (Which the film, it won`t appeal to everyone). The film is Based on the Novel:Red Dragon by Thomas Harris (The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal). Mann wrote the Screenplay for this Film. The movie also stars:Kim Griest (Brazil), Stephen Lang (Gods & Generals) & Joan Allen (Pleasentville). Frankie Faison appears in a Cameo, which he appears in the Two Sequels as Barney. Disc 1:DVD's has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) transfer with an fine Digitally Remastered-Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD Extras are Interviews, Bios, Collector's Booklet & an Trailer. Disc 2:Director's Cut has a OK anamorphic Widescreen transfer with a Dolby Stereo 2.0 Surround Sound with an Extra Three Mintues. Alternative DVD is Out now, Which is Micheal Mann's Personal new Director's Cut, which it will have an Commentary Track from the director with another DVD Extras. This film has been rediscover years after The Silence of the Lambs hits in Theaters back in 1991, which is the Second novel in the Series. Manhunter (Red Dragon) has been Re-Imagined with Anthony Hopkins playing his Famous Role-Hannibal Lector. This is a Cult Classic Thriller. Watch for Chris Elliot in a Scene. Fine Cinematography by Dante Spinotti (Bandits, Blink, Red Dragon-2002). Super 35. Grade:A-.
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