Anchor Bay // 2010 // 97 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Roy Hrab (Retired) // November 18th, 2010
"When I hunt, I hunt to kill!"
Hunt To Kill is a banal action movie. The story is derivative. The dialogue is cheesy. And most of the acting is wooden. There is but one (partial) saving grace to be found: an over-the-top performance by Gil Bellows (The Weather Man) as the film's villain.
Jim Rhodes ("Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Condemned) is a U.S. Border Patrol Officer, who finds himself stationed in Montana near the Canadian border. Rhodes is having difficulty raising his daughter Kim (Marie Avgeropoulos, I Love You, Beth Cooper) by himself and recovering from the murder of a fellow Patrol Officer. However, things get a lot harder for Rhodes when a gang of thieves, led by Banks (Bellows), show-up and kidnap Kim.
Former WWE superstar Steve Austin continues to try to make a name for himself in film. He had mainstream exposure in The Expendables recently. Apparently, Austin is a pretty good guy because he managed to talk two of his co-stars from The Expendables, Eric Roberts and Gary Daniels, into joining him on Hunt To Kill. However, he still doesn't have a decent eye for picking scripts.
Hunt To Kill can best be described as a low budget hybrid of Commando and the first Rambo film, First Blood. Austin's character, Rhodes, hunts down a hapless bunch of crooks that have kidnapped his daughter. He does this hunting in the wilderness of Montana (actually Vancouver) while spouting Schwarzenegger-esque one liners, fashioning arrows out of tree branches, and self-cauterizing gunshot wounds with a heated pocket knife. Without doubt, if this film had been made in the 1980s, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone, it would have received a wide release. However, this is the 2000s, and so it is regulated to straight-to-video.
This is a by-the-numbers flick with no surprises or wrinkles. The biggest problem is that first two-thirds of the film drags along with little action to keep things interesting. This occurs because, as a result of the film's low budget, there's only a half-dozen baddies for Austin to annihilate systematically. Absent are the hoards of unidentified extras to kill like those during the epoch of Stallone and Schwarzenegger. As a result, the first hour consists mostly of the villains complaining about the weather and getting on each other's nerves while Rhodes waits to make a move. In addition, the sequence involving Eric Roberts is completely superfluous.
Once the action begins in earnest, things are tolerable, but you have to get there first and even then it doesn't last long. The last five minutes in particular are a hoot as Bellows pours it on, turning in a manic and pretty campy performance. But again, you've got to make to there first.
The video transfer is strong. The picture is detailed and clear. The surround sound is similarly good. The dialogue and the soundtrack (which, on occasion, is quite similar to that of the Rambo films) come through without any trouble.
There is a light package of extras. Director Keoni Waxman and actor Michael Eklund (Gunless) supply a commentary track. They provide an appropriately light-hearted approach to discussing the film. Also, included are the mandatory "Behind the Scenes" featurette (Austin is conspicuously absent) and trailer.
This is marginally better than Austin's previous vehicle The Stranger, but, as noted above, it's largely due to the performance of Bellows. Beyond that, there's nothing to recommend this to non-Steve Austin fans.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Official Site