So I am always excited to talk about Asian films because it takes away the stresses that the whole Hollywood whitewashing controversies gives me. The South China Morning Post (SCMP), reports that Korean actress Ha Ji-won will star in JOHN WOO’s film MANHUNT, which she will play an assassin. Why this is news is because of how male dominated “killer” or “assassin” roles are in films – particularly Asian films. MANHUNT is an adaptation of the 1976 film version starring Ken Takakura by Junya Sato which was based on the novel written by Juko Nishimura. In Woo’s film, Zhang Hanyu will play the main character who is a lawyer who gets framed for murder and goes on a quest to clear his name.
Ha plays one of the main assassins in an entire cohort of female only assassins in this film, and this is pretty awesome considering Woo’s films usually see males playing these type of roles. Ha speaks to SCMP about how she met Woo, how she got the role and some of her thoughts around making her debut in Hong Kong films and playing an assassin:
“The first time we met, we were just eating a meal,” the 39-year-old Seoul native tells the Post at an interview during the Venice film festival, where Manhunt received its world premiere. “We were sitting beside each other and all of a sudden Mr Woo asked me, ‘Can you shoot?’”
“Nowadays the image that is given of women is much stronger. It might be the reason why John Woo chose a female killer,” says Ha, who rose to prominence in 2002 with the films Phone and Sex Is Zero.
Ha says that she over-prepared for the role of Rain – one of two killers (the other played by Woo’s daughter, Angeles Woo Feixia) who are working for a shady pharmaceutical company. It is hard to believe, given motorcycle riding, gun and wire work, and “ballet stretching” – to help choreograph those elaborate Woo action sequences – were all required.
Curiously, the toughest sequence for Ha did not involve rigorous stunt training. “It was the first scene,” she explains, referring to a surprise execution. “I’m dressed in a kimono but underneath I’m the killer. Every single movement needed to be connected, one to the other in a sequence. And that needed to be beautiful. It was very heavy for me.”
I am personally excited to watch this film, which is released in Hong Kong on November 23. I think having different Asian actors act in different Asian film regions is awesome in terms of the region being more cohesive and it will eventually make the Asian film industry more prominent than Hollywood.
Images via SCMP
To read the full interview, please click on: Manhunt star Ha Ji-won first to play a female killer in a John Woo film