Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Short Attention Span Review: The Hunted (1995)

Short Attention Span Review: The Hunted (1995)

I know what you're thinking: while he made some cheesy but entertaining movies, Highlander is the only Christopher Lambert vessel that is truly worth watching.  Well, thanks to this woefully underrated exception to that rule, I must inform you that you are wrong.  In truth, while Lambert is solid here and is definitely the star of the piece, it's like Highlander all over again in that he is upstaged at every turn.  Joan Chen brings incredible depth to a small but integral part as Lambert's doomed love interest, while John Lone is every bit as potent here as he was in Michael Cimino's Year of the Dragon as the film's villain, Kinjo.  Most importantly, Yoshio Harada commands the screen as the turbulent Takeda.  This mighty samurai is ultimately a good man and one hell of a warrior, but his fanatical devotion to tradition and his need for combat yield a well-rounded and ultimately puzzling hero who isn't all that likable at times.  The score composed by Kodo is a personal favorite and the direction from J. F. Lawton (working from his own script) is crisp and immersive.  The story revolves around an American who stumbles into a war between rival ninja and samurai clans, and the action setpieces are incredible to behold.  Of particular note is an extremely bloody battle that unfolds on a bullet train and establishes Takeda as an ultimate badass.  This is probably a guilty pleasure kind of show, but I honestly can't identify any major flaws--as action films go, I think it's a shame that more people don't appreciate The Hunted.  Surely anyone who digs the idea of seeing ninjas and samurai throw down should give this one a watch, and anyone who yearns to see Lambert shine in a role that doesn't require him to say "There can be only one" will also have a blast with this unheralded gem from 1995.

Final Grade: B

Christopher Lambert is on point as the American caught in the middle of a timeless showdown, and John Lone is even better as the villainous Kinjo, but Yoshio Harada runs away with this one as the mighty Takeda.

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