Despite the feelings of certain nameless Movie Magazine staff members, I have actually developed a type of respect for the work of B-action movie hero, Christopher Lambert. Granted, some of his movies have been downright awful, as anyone who's sat through films like, "Fortress" and "The Sicilian" could attest to, but some of his good action movies are just the kind of mindless escapism that any action film fan craves.
Which brings us to a movie that I reviewed for this show a few months ago. "The Hunted" vanished from the nation's multiplexes faster than a bowl of M and M's at a baby shower, and that's a real shame. "The Hunted" is a blast, because it has all the elements that make up the best martial arts movies, and backs that up with very good performances. What? Good performances? This is a Christopher Lambert movie we're talking about, right? Yes, friends, it is.
The plotline of "The Hunted" is actually pretty simple, and yet pretty neato-cool. Lambert plays Paul Racine, an American businessman who's in Japan for a big meeting. One night, he meets beautiful Joan Chen in his hotel bar, and promptly sleeps with her. She obviously couldn't resist his bizarre, boss accent. Anyway, after their time of passion, a master ninja named Kinjo comes to kill her. Kinjo is a master ninja, spoken of in whispers as a man of secret powers. When the woman is killed, Paul sees Kinjo's face, and is struck down by poisoned throwing stars because of it.
But, miraculously, Paul survives. He now becomes "the hunted" as Kinjo cannot allow anyone to see his face and live. So begins the pursuit: Paul runs through the streets of Japan, not trusting anyone until he falls under the protection of a master samurai named Takeda and his wife, Micko, who have sworn to destroy the evil Kinjo. Takeda and Micko fight legions of ninja assassins as Paul clashes with Japanese culture, not particularly wanting to become part of what he sees.
The battle scenes in this movie are simply terrific, with the husband and wife samurai team fighting large groups of ninjas on the streets, on a moving train, and finally, on an island, where the final showdown happens. Christopher Lambert lets his "Highlander" heritage come out, a female ninja CUTS HER OWN FACE OFF, and sword wielding maniacs run amok while a Japanese martial arts flute soundtrack adds atmosphere to the whole production. So, if you missed it, do yourself a favor, see "The Hunted" on video, and worship at the altar of Christopher Lambert.
Copyright 1995 John A. Lavin
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