Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Film Review: DEATH HUNT (1981, Peter R. Hunt)

Stars: 3.7 of 5.
Running Time: 97 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Directed by Peter R. Hunt (editor of the first few James Bond films, director of ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE). Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Carl Weathers, Angie Dickinson, Andrew Stevens, Maury Chaykin (TWINS, THE ADJUSTER), William Sanderson (DEADWOOD, BLACK MOON RISING), Ed Lauter (TRUE ROMANCE).
Tag-lines: "The Saga Of Two Rivals Who Clash As Enemies And Triumph As Heroes."
Best one-liner: "That look on your face would turn good whiskey into sour piss."

DEATH HUNT is by no means one of Bronson's best, nor is it one of Lee's best. But it's a sharp little arctic thriller (that provided the blueprint for RAMBO) with an insane ensemble cast, and it makes good on most of its action flick promises, so here we are.

Our heroes are pro-animal rights hermit Bronson and anti-technology mountie Marvin, and, unfortunately, they're victims of circumstance, forced to battle one another due to a combo of injustice and bad luck. There's a lot goin' on here:

we got Carl Weathers layin' in bed with a gigantic hooker and sayin' "You want a piece of this buffalo woman?," Andrew Stevens (MUNCHIE, MUNCHIE STRIKES BACK) acting as the moral compass of the film, a skeezy William Sanderson (BLADE RUNNER) cackling and getting bear trap comeuppance, Ed Lauter (DEATH WISH 3) bein' an all-around dick, Angie Dickinson gettin' romanced by Lee after bein' smacked around by him in THE KILLERS,

1. Romance

2. Smarm

3. Awkwardness

and Egoyan fave Maury Chaykin sleazin' it up like it's his job, which it is. But this movie belongs to Lee and Chuck. Lee's an old drunk who excels at not giving a shit.

By this point, he also looks a bit like Andy Warhol, which is fairly disquieting.

He gets all the best lines, like "There ain't nothin' in the book says that fuckin's against the law!" Or "I ain't a sir, a mister, or a Grandpa- YOU GOT THAT?!" Of Bronson he says, "I gotta know him so good I gotta taste him!" ...WHUTTT?! (Well, I guess there's some context for that which I have not provided.)

Conversely, Bronson hardly talks at all.

Bronson feeds beef jerky to his new friend.

Again, like DEATH WISH II, he gets a one-word one-liner- "Welcome." BLAMM! I guess the big lesson here is: don't fuck with a man's cabin.

Bronson gets to take on a plane, NORTH BY NORTHWEST style. He does a lot of popping out of nowhere with shotguns blazing while his opponents look on, incredulously, because they were oh so sure he was dead.

Not sure what they expected, telling Bronson in the opening scene: "You ain't gonna be nothin' but a sack of guts!," but needless to say, every knucklehead that deserves it gets their just desserts. I think Jack London would be proud.

If you want to mess with Bronson, get used to this view.

Yeh, this is pretty solid. Nearly four stars.

-Sean Gill

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