I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Bounty Hunters

tn_bountyhuntersBOUNTY HUNTERS is a low-rent but likable b-or-maybe-c-movie that is the movie debut of Trish Stratus. I didn’t know who that was to be honest, but she was the 7-time Women’s WWE Champion, which it turns out is a thing they have. Stratus plays a bail enforcement agent named Jules who, along with her boss/special friend Ridley (Frank J. Zupancic) and wiseass partner Chase (Boomer Philips) get into some trouble when they make an unethical choice while picking up a bail jumper.

See, it should be a routine arrest, but the guy starts mouthing off about how he knows the massage parlor where a mobster with a $100,000 bounty on him is currently enjoying himself and if they let him go he’ll take them to it. They know it’s illegal but they’re hard up for money and Getting Too Old For This Shit so they do it. Oh well, trade a small timer for a big time killer, it’s not what you’re supposed to do but it doesn’t hurt anybody. Could do the opposite.

mp_bountyhuntersThe trouble is then they face an even worse temptation. The massage parlor guy is basically a dead man, because his boss has to make sure he doesn’t give up any information. If our heroes deliver him to the police he’s gonna get shanked at best. The boss wants to make it easy so he offers $1 million to our bounty hunters just hand him over.

It’s a strong argument. Either way the guy’s gonna die. They gotta decide whether to do the wrong thing for a million or do the right thing for nothing. And Chase wants to do the wrong thing.

There are other threats along the way, and other bounties. Jules has to fight a big tattooed muscleman with a mohawk at a gym, so they basically have a wrestling match on some mats, and she also gets to swing around on the fitness equipment. She wakes up from being knocked out and has to fight a female martial artist disguised as a cop in the back of a moving ambulance. She also has a night job as a waitress at a strip club, so there’s a nice moment where a guy grabs her ass and she beats up 3 dudes with one fist while still balancing a tray of beers in the other hand. Chase has a good fight with the fake cop lady in a public restroom, a smaller one than they usually use for restroom fights. (As you know I am a connoisseur of restroom fight scenes.)

The fights have a little more of a staged, pro wrestling kind of feel to them than a cinematic one, but I like the energy and the style. Stratus is doing wrestling holds but also martial arts (I guess she studied the Israeli style Krav Maga for the movie). So there are way more hits and kicks than in WWE but also acrobatic grappling, scissoring a guy’s head, flipping over, being tossed around, people breaking through walls.

I also like the attempt at sort of a down-to-earth, colleagues-just-doing-their-job-together story. It’s a story about a bad night on the job, maybe the biggest thing that’s happened to them, but it’s still not monumental. There’s no saving the world or the city or even a hospital or community center or a hostage (except Jules). It’s a pretty small event leading to an intimate showdown.

I would appreciate though if they let Stratus do something a little cooler to save the day. They have her do what they refer to as “the finishing move,” but it’s pretty underwhelming. According to wikipedia her finishing moves in the WWE were the “Chick Kick” and the “Stratusfaction,” which I gotta say both sound better than Ducking Down So Somebody Else Can Shoot a Guy, which is the one she uses in the movie.

Stratus and Zupancic are both pretty stiff with their line readings, but I find them and their relationship easy to like. Philips is the standout actor in the movie. He’s a pretty big guy but it turns out he’s a Canadian comedian. Unlike most comic relief guys in these type of movies I thought he was pretty funny most of the time, making light of the situation more like somebody trying to get through the day than somebody trying to add the funny part at the end of the scene. Director Patrick McBrearty doesn’t seem like a future genius or anything but I respect that he’s going for a little different tone than most other DTV action of our current times.

I hope this isn’t mean to say, but I think I should mention that I don’t really like looking at Trish Stratus. She has an aggressively artificial look to her facial features that is obviously supposed to be sexy but is a real turn-off to me. Gina Carano in HAYWIRE is a good looking lady who becomes way sexier because of her physical abilities and confident presence. I feel like Stratus could’ve been that too, but it looks like there was a team of scientists trying to force it over the years and ruining the whole enterprise. She’s got a bunch of Playboy Magazines and all 11 seasons of Baywatch spliced into her DNA.

I don’t think that’s sexist to say because I would also complain if a male action hero looked like too much of a pretty boy or wore a ridiculous outfit or hairstyle or whatever. Some people are still mad at me for my controversial statements about Mel Gibson’s hair in LETHAL WEAPON. But film is a visual medium and imagery is a big part of action cinema and it’s important for the badasses to look cool.

So that’s a problem for me with Stratus, but I did still like her in this movie because it’s fun to watch her fight.

It’s too bad it has such a generic title. I kept thinking, while looking at the “BEA” stenciled on the back of their vests, that BAIL ENFORCEMENT AGENTS would be a better title. I forgot that it actually was called BAIL ENFORCERS when it played Actionfest last year. I don’t know why somebody thought that had to be changed. Were they really worried that their key demographic doesn’t know what a bail enforcer is? I don’t know if we should take that as an insult or a compliment.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 at 1:42 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

35 Responses to “Bounty Hunters”

  1. hey speaking of, Trish Stratus

    http://www.411mania.com/siteimages/trish-stratus_130861.jpg

    just thought I’d throw that out there

  2. I guess a bee stung her in the buttocks?

  3. Griff- bah, you should see her fetishise a table http://youtu.be/gMA7tWWeaME

    RE- Vern’s take on her appearance: I’m not actually sure that BOUNTY HUNTERS/present day Trish Stratus IS all that artificial. She looks quite different from how she did when she was a regular in the WWE. She’s less curvy, having apparently gotten her breast implants removed and taken up yoga as part of her focus on being a fitness expert and she stopped dying her hair blonde, and obviously she’d not have to maintain such a strict regime as she did when in WWE. I can’t speak to what she’s had done facially. Maybe her nose and lips. I’d say there’s a good chance everything else about her face is natural, including her cheekbones, because she’s half polish, half greek, and on her WWE DVD, there was a chapter on her spending time with her relatives, and she had this male cousin who had similar features.
    I certainly do miss seeing her wrestle. Or rather the era she wrestled in. When she was at her height, the Women’s Division could actually be really compelling, and there was a real focus to get the women who worked hard enough at it to actually be decent workers, and she was among the top few, plus, after a while, the stiltedness she displayed in the video above grew into being able to be really entertaining and funny when she needed to be, and believable as a competitor when things were more serious. Today, the Women’s Division is a joke, where the actually talented ones get sidelined in favour of the ones who looked good, but are pretty shitty workers. WWE are only interested in girls “attractive enough to be in Playboy”* first, ability to wrestle a distant second, even though with WWE being in the tame PG era(which has resulted in a moratorium on intergender violence unless it’s the woman doing the striking, leaving any situation where a women is physically threatened completely lacking in any dramatic tension), they won’t even have the women do Playboy anymore, so what’s the fucking point? As an example, Bret Hart’s niece Natalysa Neidhart has been saddled with a storyline where she keeps farting at inappropriate moments. Yeah. Most matches are LUCKY to last more than a minute these days, and the storyline conflicts are usually built on “one girl’s a bitch who’s jealous of the other”, and the fucking Championship Belt is a ridiculous piece of pink tackiness. So yeah, I miss Trish, who shares her birthday with Stone Cold, by the way, so a well timed pair of reviews today.

    *Actual talent scout quote

  4. I wonder if anyone involved with movie marketing has done a study on the sales of DTV movies that Vern doesn’t review versus those he does. Personally, I know I don’t even think about fucking with DTV action unless Vern at least kinda likes it. I don’t know what the numbers on this sight really are (it seems like the same two dozen dudes all the time, but every now and then a lurker comes out of the woodwork so I know there must be lots more where they came from) but I can’t imagine that DTV sales are so massive that a Vern-related sales bump isn’t out of the question.

    All this to say that I’d never heard of this movie five minutes ago, but now I’ll see this one as soon as I can. I bet I’m not the only one.

  5. Oh, and that move she does in the trailer at 1:03- grabbing her opponent’s head, and running off the wall to drive her face first down to the ground, that’s the “Stratusfaction”.

  6. I just finished Steve McQueen’s last movie The Hunter. It’s about real life bounty hunter Ralph “Papa” Thorson and might just be the definitive bounty hunter movie. And he looks cool as always.

  7. Is that the one with Levar Burton in it? I saw the beginning of that a few weeks ago, while waiting for something else to come on tv. Seemed cool.

  8. Just came back from a screening of The Raid. No bullshit, it is the current King of modern badass cinema. It managed to exceed my already huge expectations. Vern, see it ASAP.

  9. Yes, LeVar is in it. And yes, it’s a cool movie.

  10. In the good old days of brick and mortar stores this movie would have slapped on a cover where the main stars would be conspicuously dressed like Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler in the hopes that someone might confuse The Bounty Hunter with Bounty Hunters. I think it’s a fair question to ask how much business direct to DVD movies receive thanks to Vern, but I’m even more curious about how much business they lost because it’s a lot harder to confuse two movies when you’re streaming them online.

  11. I like DTV action movies, way more than I like movies that make it to cinema nowadays at any rate. They’re getting much better now, some are even brilliant (Blood & Bone, Damage) and, being an action buff, it’s what I watch most of the time. I’m kinda sad that I missed the 80s and 90s, when action movies made it to cinema and wish that I could have caught Seagal on the big screen in Hard to Kill or something but I love the fact that action movies are coming back, even if they don’t all make it to the big screen.

    I also want to say that I trust Vern more than anybody else in the action department. The films he likes, I always love, so it’s great to finally find a reviewer that shares the same tastes as I do (And Seagalogy was a great book by the way!). Love your stuff mate, will certainly look out for this movie.

  12. pegsman – I have yet to see THE HUNTER, but´s a bold statement calling it the definitive bounty hunter-movie. When you have motherfuckers like MIDNIGHT RUN or TRUCK TURNER or FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE you´re in for stiff competition. But I´ll take your word for it and check it out.

  13. Don’t forget Jackie Brown. That’s some grade-A bounty hunter cinema right there.

  14. So Vern, now that you’ve seen and sort of enjoyed the Trish Stratus movie, any chance you’ll review the Gail Kim ninja movie?

    Stu- In all honesty, hasn’t the women’s division of the WWF/E always been that bad anyway? Maybe 10 years ago almost all the girls on the roster were decent wrestlers, but that’s because there were only like 4 of them anyway. Now they simply added more women to the division, and sure most of them are just swimsuit models, but you still have a core of like 3-4 decent wrestlers like Natalya or Kharma. And they’ve always been involved in terrible storylines. Remember when Molly Holly had a fat ass, or when Lita was pregnant with Kane’s baby, or when the “Pretty Mean Sisters” had a sex slave with a permanent boner?

  15. That is a pretty accurate re-enactment of me, reading about the female wrestler storylines above:

    http://youtu.be/C_S5cXbXe-4

  16. When the WWE had a lot of solid female wrestlers, they made them all have bra-and-panties matches. Now that the WWE is full of half-trained Hawaiian Tropic models, they make them wrestle all the time, but only for 90 seconds or so to prevent them from hurting each other.

  17. Bold is my middle name, Shoot. Besides, it’s STEVE MCQUEEN, the greatest bounty hunter of all time returning to the trade.

  18. I believe Steve McQueen is a way better bounty hunter than Marvin Dorfler. But then again, that ain´t sayin much. I´ve never seen a bigger bounty hunter fuck up than poor Marvin.

  19. I read the “Jules who,” in the review as “Jules Who” at first, and wondered why the hell they were referencing The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

  20. Toxic- well yeah, but there was more of a clear distinction between the good and bad. Now the bad just dominates and it’s honestly never been worse.

    Walter Goggles- “they make them wrestle all the time, but only for 90 seconds or so to prevent them from hurting each other.”
    Kind of futile when they let “walking manslaughter waiting to happen” Alicia Fox compete: http://youtu.be/2ja9NhF1lwE

  21. Anyone remember that reality show Armed and Famous? Where a couple of b-level celebs (Erik Estrada, Trish Stratus, Wee-man, etc..) became deputies in a small town? I actually liked it better than Steven Seagal: Lawman, since the dynamic was totally different – (i.e. the celebs were new and experienced and we got to learn the ins and outs of the law along with them; as opposed to Lawman where Seagal apparently knew everything about everything already, and had to school the cops in fighting and shooting, etc..)

    Plus it was less repetitive in the situations they ran into. One ep actually had a Hispanic guy who abused his wife/girlfriend and none of the real cops could communicate with him so they had to call in Erik Estrada to speak to him; it turned out to be really powerful stuff.

    But yeah, I mention it b/c in the first ep the cops had to be tasered to complete training, and everyone was afraid or wanted to do it with protection. Stratus was the only one to take the tasering w/ no protection (this is the kind that shoots the two darts with wires into you, like in The Perfect Weapon) and she even bled from the dart holes. Great TV and she definitely won me over in a way she never did in the WWE.

  22. Ya know, if you want to see actual wrestling you could always watch RING KA KING or WWE Superstars / NXT. The Kaitlyn v Maxine match this past week was pretty good on NXT.

    But, yeah, don’t expect to see a women’s or tag team match last more than 90 seconds on Smackdown / Raw.

  23. I’d only consider watching NXT for William Regal’s commentary:
    http://youtu.be/qc_DD0paeXg (start at 1:10)

  24. Stu- Keep in mind that Trish herself was absolutely terrible when she started. So, some of the current “veterans” like Kelly Kelly, Layla or Eve are probably hopeless now, but the new girls like AJ or Kaitlyn could turn into decent wrestlers just like Trish did.

  25. I hope so, but there’s apparently not as much of a focus put on developing them like that as there used to be when Finlay was in charge of training the divas.

  26. Since we’re talking wrestling: Chikara does Michael Jackson.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOZnIkgBOdI&feature=related

  27. I enjoyed this greatly when I saw it at action Fest. Thought the fights were imaginative and focused on letting you see the moves. Especially since the lroduction value was sub dtv they really put it all into the fights. The up skirt ambulance fight was hit and I liked the Asian villain. She’s just a comedian from Canada.

    I think Trish is hot but I love muscular fitness girls even with the sharp features. Carano is more my type as a brunette and busty anyway but I love both. Totally Stratusfied.

  28. Just to make my point about the women’s division back then(which in addition to Trish also had the likes of Victoria, Lita, Molly, Ivory, Jazz), I’ll ask, when did we last see a Women’s match anything like this?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JB84AM9cHx8

  29. I don’t know, I really get the impression that the current ‘Divas’ are seen as worse than they actually are just because they are cartoonishly good looking models turned wrestlers, while the girls from 10-15 years ago are remembered as better than they actually were because wrestling in general was more fun back then.

    Lita and Jazz are good examples of what I’m trying to say. Lita wasn’t afraid to perform ‘high-flying’ moves in an era when the WWE encouraged wrestlers to do crazy stunts, but other than that, she was pretty sloppy in the ring. Calling her mediocre might be too harsh but she was average at best. And Jazz certainly didn’t look like a ‘Diva’, so it seems like people assume that it means she was a really good wrestler. And I’m not saying she was bad, but really she was nothing special. Today someone like Kaitlyn is not as experienced, so her offense doesn’t look as convincing, but other than that, I’d say Kaitlyn is pretty much on par with Jazz.

    But that might be the main problem with the female division today: they lack experience, they’re not allowed to peform crazy stunts anymore and they don’t want to hurt themselves anyway, so they have a hard time making their matches look convincing and entertaining.

  30. Trish and Molly Holly put on some legitimately good matches back then, and had nothing to do with wrestling in general being more fun. And not just because of high flying stuff, I’m talking actual wrestling holds, submissions, suplexes, and putting on a good match in general. Victoria and Ivory did some as well, even Lita could occasionally pull a decent match out, though yes, I agree she was in general pretty sloppy.

  31. Yeah, Trish and Molly, Ivory and Victoria, that’s 4 good wrestlers. Today you have Kharma, Natalya and and Beth, that’s 3, so that’s not exactly a huge drop. And yeah you also have girls like Eve or Kelly who are really bad, just like back then you had girls like Torrie Wilson or Stacey Keibler who were really bad too.

  32. Man, guys, you all have some rose tinted glasses. The wrestling in the Attitude Era, outside of the matches that were memorable, was pretty bad. For my money I don’t think any period in the WWE has had such a good roster as it does now.

    Yeah, the Divas suck. If you want female wrestling you’d be watching TNA or Shimmer.

  33. The roster now is strong, but they’re not allowed as often to really show what they can do. Back in the early 2000’s I could count on several good matches nearly every week-Edge and Christian, Kurt Angle, Jericho, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas, RVD, Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, and a lot of others(in addition to the best women’s wrestling they’ve had).

    As for the women’s wrestling today, back then, there may only be 4 or so, but they wrestled each other…today, the few who can wrestle mostly wrestle the many who can’t. And Kharma’s been out almost as long as she’s been with the company, so I don’t really count her. TNA does have a good women’s division, though. And the Shimmer girls are in their own world.

  34. Finally saw this via Netflix Disc(!) and thought it was great. Vern hit the nail on the head – it’s small-scale and ramshackle, but that’s what makes it charming. Real great character development from the 3 protagonists (despite somewhat clunky line-readings) and great action sequences that get better as the movie goes along – the two lady fights are miles better than most Hollywood fights, mainly because the performers can do their own stunts and take a hit and you don’t have to edit around hiding their faces.

    One thing of note: (this may be a SPOILER) – I kinda like how the villainess pushes Stratus’ buttons in the final fight by saying “i’m glad we found you so easily, otherwise we’d have to get your daughter” and of course that enrages Trish and she starts kicking her ass, etc… I’m pretty sure there was no mention of this daughter before or after in the movie, and I love it. We don’t need the cliched scenes with some asshole ex-husband character, or cliched scenes where the daughter is complaining she doesn’t see mommy enough, etc… This movie keeps it lean and mean and the characters are better for it.

    Anyway, it’s no Blood and Bone, but it’s definitely in the upper-tier of DTV.

  35. Just watched it. Trish does get to do both a Stratusfaction and a Stratusphere but no Chick Kick, I don’t know why they thought they had to use a different “finishing move” for the end though.
    Anyway, about the ending of the movie (SPOILERS) I didn’t quite get it. After the bail jumper and the henchmen are dead, the mob boss offers them to simply take his money and leave… and they don’t. Why not? They were gonna take the money originally, and they do take it after they kill him. They’re not cops, he’s not a bail jumper, can they actually arrest him? I understand that killing the bad guy is a generally more satisfying movie ending than just “ok, we’ll take your money and let you go” but in this case it doesn’t really make sense does it?

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