Sometimes going back to basics leads to a satisfying show and that was what happened to this year’s Manhunt International. In a well-paced no-frills program set at the ballroom of the QT Resort & Spa in Gold Coast, Australia. The 28 contestants strutted in national costume, swimsuit and tuxedos on the small threadbare carpeted stage with catwalk. EvErything proceeded efficiently with brisk instrumental music and everything was completed in a span of less than two hours (unlike other editions when it stretched out because of bloated intermission segments). With the exception of the music used in the tuxedo segment, it’s pretty modern EDM–more notes about the use of the Manhunt theme song for the tuxedo round towards the end of this essay. What I liked best was in one of the intermission segments, we got to watch an edited version of the preliminary show with a better, closer angle than what was shown on Facebook Live originally.
I got 14 of the 16 semifinalists correct. The two I missed were in my “Bubbling Under” list so their inclusion was not surprising. I actually had a soft heart and was rooting for JAPAN (Yusuke Fujita) but was thinking they might be favoring some other folk so I reluctantly put him as a “Bubbling Under” choice. Glad the judges looked in favor upon him. SWEDEN (Mattias Coleman)‘s superbly buffed bod always makes him a contender so his inclusion was not surprising.
The two guys who JAPAN and SWEDEN took out most likely missed the cut by very little. I thought with a commercial solo shot, GUAM (Joshua Soto) would be given preference over JAPAN, but perhaps despite the beefy physique the judges felt JAPAN had more charisma. USA (Karl Reeser Muddu) meanwhile, was strong but was never a sure thing and hence it’s not that surprising his slot went to SWEDEN instead. Anyway, I’ll award these two guys a tie for the Lucas Malvacini award.
Now admittedly I was way off with my Final Five prediction, as I only got two of the five correct. I knew BELGIUM (Mohamed Mahouk) was fading in buzz and hence his slot was taken over by the worthier NETHERLANDS (Luca Derin). Now, what happened to CHINA (Ryan Xi)? I guess the judges were not as into him as I thought, so his special award for Karaoke King and Best National Costume would have to suffice.
What was most surprising for me was the exclusion of PUERTO RICO (Karlwiz Guttierrez) in the Final Five. I presumed he would be battling tooth and claw with the eventual winner for the title, so for me him being out of the Top Five is the shocker. I think an unguarded moment captured on video by a fellow contestant inadvertently id him in. POLAND (Patryk Tomaszewski) was posting a host of Instagram video stories of behind-the-scenes activities on his Instagram account, and one of them featured him in rehearsal and Karlwiz, probably letting off some steam, decided to do a very suggestive dance and mock-hump the guy in front of him, PHILIPPINES (Jeff Langan). Of course POLAND noticed that and mock-scolded Karlwiz “Did you f— Philippines?” In context it seems to be more in good-natured (albeit naughty) fun but I have a feeling Rosko Dickerson and his staff got hold of this and were appalled and penalized Karlwiz for this.
POLAND’s Instragram stories also revealed that PHILIPPINES seem reticent to the point of being aloof backstage, barely interacting with the other guys the way the outgoing likes of POLAND and PUERTO RICO were doing. Well, it reminds me of America’s Next Top Model Season 6 contestant Jade Cole who infamously quipped about the contest is not about making friends, albeit Jeff is nowhere near as toxic as Jade. Reportedly he was ill, so he’s most likely conserving his energies towards when it would truly count–a strategy I definitely respect and welcome, and this strategy worked for him here.
Now for most pageant fans and pundits, the choice of VIETNAM (Mai Tuan Anh) and AUSTRALIA (Dale Maher) in the Final Five were deemed headscratchers. I personally don’t really object to their inclusion but still–them over PUERTO RICO? Anyway, I think in the case of VIETNAM, they just probably were feeling him more than, say, CHINA. In the case of AUSTRALIA, I speculate because he was rewarded for assuming the mantle to represent the host country as they probably were having major issues getting anyone willing to assume the mantle as host representative that is why it was so late before they confirmed on their Facebook page. He’s also insurance in case for any reason the winner could not be present for next year’s Manhunt International.
The choice of SPAIN (Vicent Llorach) was highly welcome by all, as he has the handsomeness and buffness that is the hallmark of most Manhunt winners. He was always one of the front-runners from the get-go. Considering after the contest we see him posing with the Philippine franchise holder Jonas Gaffud, could we foresee him doing modeling gigs in our shores in the near future? That would be a highly welcome prospect.
There are a lot of things this edition did right and I hope to see more of this moving forward–especially please continue with the livestream of the finals for us fans to follow. Now, we got to do something about the Manhunt theme song–its cheesy, synthy early 1990s house sounds are glaringly dated that it needs a revamp/remix. Listening to this song blaring out the speakers as it is now constantly makes me cringe. I think there should be a budge available to generate a remix for this song so it can sound fresh–if Carousel Productions can do it when they freshen up their theme song, why not this contest?