Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Hunt to Kill


Directed by: Keoni Waxman
Written by: Frank Hannah
Starring: Steve Austin, Gill Bellows, Gary Daniels & Eric Roberts

Steve Austin makes for a pretty good action star. He's built like a Sherman tank, says few words and is skillful in the fight and action department. He had impressive turns in big action films The Condemned and The Expendables but his straight-to-DVD starring vehicles haven't always delivered, Hunt To Kill being one of them. To be fair Damage wasn't bad as it spent some time crafting character but was somewhat a let down in the fight department. Hunt to Kill is the other way round the action (when it arrives) being decent but everything else sub par.

Austin is your typical former Texas Ranger type now living out in the woods of Montana as an expert woodsman. Through all kinds of plot absurdity he has to guide Gil Bellows and his bunch of very inept cronies through the forest to find some dude who has run off with their money from a recent heist. The gang also kidnap Austin's daughter for good measure which means come the last half hour he has to use all his Ranger and wilderness skills to hunt down and kill the ridiculous assortment of bad guys.

Pretty decent, if formulaic, set up that provides some nice location work and photography and come the final stretch of the film a decent bit of hunt and fight action. Unfortunately everything else is just kind of blah and all tension and excitement is undone by your typical useless movie villains. We are supposed to believe they are some bad ass bank robbing criminals but really they are just a gang of annoying douche bags. Gil Bellows comes off worst as the least convincing main bad guy seen in an action movie in a while: instead of menacing and a force to be reckoned with he's just whiny, annoying, seriously overacting when there is no call for it and, as mentioned, a douche. Maybe he was going for a piss take of the typical over-the-top main villain (and judging by how many times he has to be killed in the end fight, this might confirm this approach) but the film seems to be more concerned with cliches and everyone trying to "out douche" one another rather than any kind of subtle dig at action movie sterotypes

To be fair Gary Daniels does well in his supporting bad guy role (and should have been the main villain), actually coming off as a threat as does Emillie Ullerup as the glammed up bad girl. There are hints that her character doesn't quite agree with what her gang of so called criminals are doing, almost forming a bond with the kidnapped girl, but all this seems to have been jettisoned in favour of more "look how hilariously evil these bad guys are" scenes. Daniels, thankfully, gets a cool fight scene with Austin (the highlight of the flick) and Austin himself is as solid as usual, now adept at the quiet but strong action hero.

There are a few other OK action bits but with a neat set up and half the cast of The Expendables reuniting (Eric Roberts is in and out of the flick before the opening credits roll!), Hunt to Kill could have been much more than it unfortunately is. And the less said about the bit with the ATV, the better!


Direct to Video Connoisseur said...

Total agreement on how bad this was. I mean, you have criminals that were sophisticated enough to have computer software that tracks local police vehicles and mimics the voice of the police dispatcher, but they don't know enough to go online and read up on the mountains, or buy a guidebook from one of the local shops! Then you had the monolithic Countryboy Can Survive vs. Those Valueless Cityfolk paradigm, so bad that the only African American in the film was portrayed as a degenerate rapist that Austin has to protect his daughter from.

As far as Daniels, in the featurette, he said he made the film as a favor to Austin, because the two became friends on The Expendables. Also, he choreographed his fight with Austin. Great stuff there.

drive2 said...

yeah, good concept wasted by the bad guys having to be complete douches, meaning we spend too much time with them trying to be hilariously evil. if you make a straight edged action flick, make your bad guys at least a little threatening.

daniels: awesome as always...