The film is best known as the first novel (Thomas Harris' "Red Dragon") turned film featuring the character of Hannibal Lector (played by Brian Cox). Obviously the role was made famous in 'The Silence of the Lambs' played by Anthony Hopkins 5 years later. The thing is there is no comparison. Lector is a small part of this story. I almost don't think of it as part of the other films. In fact, I think it works better here that Hopkins isn't Lector. Cox has a much different demeanor which works perfectly against Petersen's character. It wouldn't work as well as it did with Hopkins going against Jodie Foster . And as was apparent in the later adaptation 'Red Dragon' which did feature Hopkins in the role going against the character of Will Graham this time played by Ed Norton. Michael Mann perfectly adapted the key aspects of the novel and the characters and made it his own. It's why the film still stands to this day. It's one of my favorite films and as I've pointed out before how it has influenced me even when I didn't know it.
In my last film 'Distortion' (currently in post production) there are three 'Manhunter' moments. One was intentional. One became obvious in the moment. The other I didn't notice until it was pointed out to me many months later. The obvious one was I did take one line from the film ("This killing has got to stop.") The one in the moment was when I was grabbing some extra shots for a montage and had the actor look at his reflection in the window and then lift his hand up to it. Very similar to two moments in the film. The not so obvious one is just a type of shot which is not directly anything specific but does scream Michael Mann if you're familiar with his style. I found that one amusing as I had no clue but when it was pointed out it was very obvious.
Some people may feel the film is a little dated as there is a lot of music in it from the time and there are moments where the style is a little like the Mann created TV series 'Miami Vice'. None of this bothers me any. Although I did grow up in the 80's so I have a fondness for it.
If you haven't seen the film I suggest watching it. It's a little different than your normal serial killer film. And while it has a connection to 'The Silence of the Lambs' and 'Hannibal' it is very different. It stands on its own. Now I want to watch it again.