"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Hunt To Kill

tn_hunttokillStone Cold Steve Austin (THE EXPENDABLES) plays Jim Rhodes, badass Border Patrol agent and former FBI partner of Eric Roberts (THE EXPENDABLES) who has to save his daughter when she’s taken hostage by a group of ruthless thieves, including Gary Daniels (THE EXPENDABLES). Also he has a bow and arrow.

The director is Keoni Waxman, who did Seagal’s THE KEEPER, A DANGEROUS MAN and apparently many episodes of TRUE JUSTICE. I was thinking it was gonna be the same director as Austin’s best movie so far, DAMAGE, but that was Jeff King. It is the same writer as DAMAGE, Frank Hannah. My hopes for it to be as good as DAMAGE were not fulfilled, but it has some things I liked about it.

mp_hunttokillI really like the opening. Austin and Roberts (in an extended cameo) bond during a deceptively peaceful call to an abandoned trailer before Austin’s about to retire. This scene has every cliche in the book (including but not limited to day-before-retirement-trouble, wise mentor partner and let’s-do-it-like-the-old-days) but the charm of Roberts and the stone coldness of Stone Cold make it effective. It’s a nice little two-actor scene that turns into some mayhem. One thing that’s unusual, Austin gets hurtled through the air by an explosion and hits his head and, if I’m not mistaken, actually gets knocked out. You don’t see alot of guys in movies actually getting bumped around by explosions. Usually they just walk or run away and everything’s fine. Nice twist, Stone Cold.

Then we find him years later, divorced, on a break from work, and trying to spend some time with his daughter, who doesn’t like him very much, partly because she doesn’t like the used car he gave her. But he rolls up in the exact pickup truck you would expect Stone Cold to drive. The music sounds very majestic and makes this Rhodes character seem like one of the heroes of the early ’90s action movies I dig on. I think that kind of sound could either mean he’s a decorated soldier (UNDER SIEGE) or he’s one with nature (FIRESTORM, ON DEADLY GROUND).

Then it introduces the villains, who have just executed a daring casino heist, but the rich guy who put the team together betrays them and flees through the woods, so they gotta chase him. During the chase they wind up taking Rhodes as a guide and his daughter as a hostage, so that’s how our hero gets mixed up with these pricks. If it was just him he could escape I’m sure, but he’s trying to save his daughter.

Great beginning, and I can also give my seal of approval to the end section, unfortunately the middle part is not as good. The group plods through nature, mostly bickering and being hateful. Sometimes in these movies everybody just argues over nothing instead of having actual dramatic tension, and if they’re not good enough actors it’s a problem. Gil Bellows of Ally McBeal fame is semi-enjoyable though, going a little mega as the sadistic ringleader. He smiles with delight whenever any violence happens, even if it’s against his interests, like when his team are infighting. But the daughter and the rest of the team are kind of grating.

Like in TAKEN the girl is kind of an ungrateful brat, but also she’s bitchy and sullen. There’s a whiny computer expert who you know is quirky because his fingerless gloves have blue and white stripes. Poor Gary Daniels is British so he has to call people “guvnah” more than once. And it’s a little embarrassing that the one black guy in the movie tries to rape the girl as soon as he’s alone with her.

When the talking stops and there’s action it’s pretty good. The highlight is a fight between Austin and Daniels, plodding wrestler vs. skilled kickboxer. They eventually pick up sticks from the ground for some kind of primal duel, which turns out to just be a setup for Austin to do a wonderfully awful Schwarzenegger style pun.

The climactic fight between Austin and Bellows is also good. You hate that prick and want to see him get smashed. I love that Bellows carefully peels off one board nailed to an abandoned mine so he can climb in, then Austin just runs straight through the rest of the boards like Frankenstein’s monster or Kool Aid Man would do. Bellows is clearly outmatched, but the choreography really sells that he’s surviving through luck and weasely resourcefulness. And here’s a quick SPOILER but somehow it’s perfect for Stone Cold’s persona that he defeats the guy by doing a wheelie on a 4-wheeler.

I was right back when I saw and hated THE CONDEMNED: despite the crappiness of that movie, Austin makes a really good action hero. I’m pretty sure he’s not gonna have alot of acting range, and also that he’s not gonna need it. He has a really strong screen presence, so much more of a monster than most heroes. He looks like a scary ex-biker bouncer or something, so he’s interesting as a good guy. For a guy that looks like that to be a sweetheart is almost like built-in badass juxtaposition.

I honestly think he does some good acting in this movie. They don’t give him too many words and he communicates alot with his eyes. His anger, his hurt. And since he gets to

1. bond with a partner and

2. sit in the woods forging his own weapons and camouflage

that means it’s a good use of him. Bonus points for his partner giving him a meaningful trinket that doubles as a survivalism tool.

In the long run HUNT TO KILL will be a minor entry on the Stone Cold filmography, but it’s not a waste of your time if you’re into this sort of thing, which you are.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 31st, 2011 at 9:26 am 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.

24 Responses to “Hunt To Kill”

  1. Had my say on this one in the DAMAGE thread, and this review is pretty thorough. Coulda used a more detailed explanation of what I recall being a ridiculous use of 550 cord & rock climbing skill, but maybe I was wrong about that part.

    Concerning the mega, I’d like to note that, iIrc, at one point the main bad guy twists up his mega face muscles & yells, “I DON’T LIKE YOUR FAMILY!”  That was beyond funny for me, but maybe my sense of humor has regressed to subhuman levels.

    Great ending in this one for fans of BADASS CINEMA, from the Gary Daniels fight to the last angry titleistical fatality line.

  2. When I saw this on in a store, I was reminded of the fact Austin does actually do some hunting in real life, so I wonder if that’s what attracted him to the role and if he had any input into how some of the woodsmen stuff was done.

    “He looks like a scary ex-biker”
    Could Stone Cold work as the star of a remake of STONE COLD?

  3. Mouth – I thought that line was hilarious too. Or at least the delivery of it.

  4. The coolest thing about Hunt to Kill is that it reminded me more of those Italian Rambo rip offs in the 80’s (Tornado 1 and 2, Thunder 1, 2 and 3 etc.), than anything else. Question; Did Bellows & Co let Austin bring his bow with him or did they forget to search his bag?

  5. I actually enjoyed HUNT TO KILL more than DAMAGE, but that’s probably because I think the plot of DAMAGE gets kind of confusing towards the end and because the fights are really, really disappointing. I kind of wish Eric Roberts had been given Gil Bellows’ part though. I just don’t buy Bellows as a crazy villain.

  6. @pegsman: Austin gets the bow from a bag that he tied to a tree early in the movie, before he got captured. So the bad guys don’t even know about that particular bag, he doesn’t carry it with him, it’s like his secret weapon stash in the forest.

  7. I quite liked this one too. It was funny, I was waiting and waiting for Gary Daniels and Austin to go at it, and then Austin shoots him in the back with an arrow and I was like, aw crap! Turns out though the arrow was just to get his attention. Good fight.

    One thing though – there’s a point where they knock out Austin and when he comes to: is it implied that they raped his daughter, or just knocked her around a bit?

  8. Thanks, Toxic. It would probably do me good to drink a little less beer during complicated movies like this.

  9. I had the same problem, pegsman, except it was b/c I was watching a less-than-blu-ray version of HUNT TO KILL on a small laptop while on the job. My initial reaction was “Wha? Did I just witness a crossbow ex machina?”

    Good catch, Toxic. I’m on probation from making a Britney Spears reference here, but be assured it would be an appropriately Badass Juxtaposition-style, clever reference to her song & your name if I could. I guess we weren’t paying enough attention, pegsman. The HUNT TO KILL screenwriter and his/her elaborate puzzle script wins this round.

  10. Ah well, darn it. Steve Austin was one of the few things I liked about “The Expendables”, so it’s disappointing to hear that this one isn’t up to par. (Although gotta give Vern props for telling it like it is.)

  11. I have wanted to check this one out since Mouth’s review, but I am way behind in my Netflix que. I really think Stone Cold should be a bigger action star. He doesn’t have the acting range of The Rock, but he has a much more cold and menacing presence that is unique. I have I already stated before that I think he is the best part of THE EXPENDABLES. He just needs a good script that understand how to best utilize him. I think you could make a great modern western with him. A variation on ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 variation would be good. Stone Cold could play a small Texas border town sheriff who’s precinct is scheduled to be closed and his jurisdiction taken over by the state troopers due to budget cuts, but on the last day before they are set to close the precinct a man stumbles in demanding protection. It would then be revealed that the man in need of help is on the run with millions in stolen Mexican drug cartel money, and it is not long before the cartel shows up looking for their money and revenge. Stone Cold would then find himself in a stand off with the cartel, and forced to take on overwhelming odds.

  12. Austin really needs and deserves better than what he’s done so far. Not that everything he’s been in was terrible, but even his best movies are really nothing special. I’d say his worst was THE STRANGER. Even worse than the awful THE CONDEMNED.

  13. I thought you would pick up the fact that he spells the title of the movie as his final pre-killing one-liner. That’s weirdly uncommon and quite daring for something other than a parody. I found it particularly awesome.

  14. Charles, could there be a spunky administrative or paralegal type character who is initially laid off or reassigned but then goes back to the precinct for some subtly contrived reason (She has a crush on Sheriff Austin & wants to ask him out before she has to move to Dallas or, if it’s a dude, he forgot his lucky lighter in a desk drawer or some shit. Okay, it should be a chick, definitely.) and then ends up saving the sheriff’s ass at the last moment during the penultimate almost-climax?

    Also, they could take advantage of Austin’s WWF/WWE reputation for guzzling 6-packs at a pre-precinct-closing party at some bar, where there is inevitably a BEST OF THE BEST / Seagalogical-style bar skirmish, and then his co-workers are hung over on their last melancholy day at the office and that’s also why he lets most of them go home early, ergo making him a lone ranger for the final surprise conflict. What I’m saying is, can I be your co-screenwriter?

    Also, everyone could wear a bolo tie.

  15. Valido, yes, it was particularly awesome. I covered it right here, just so you know you’re not alone: https://outlawvern.com/2010/08/09/damage/#comment-160571

    The phrase “particularly awesome” is also particularly awesome. Well done.

  16. Mouth, I would like to go on the record that I am pro bolo-tie.

  17. Glad you dug the Austin/Daniels fight Vern.

    Next up has Austin vs. Lundgren. Hopefully that’s one for the ages!


  18. I will say that the scene from THE EXPENDABLES where Roberts says he was raised not to hit a woman, but Stone Cold doesn’t have that problem was pretty uncomfortable for me given the guy’s real-life unfortunate history with that sort of thing…

  19. What I found most annoying about this movie was at the start, you have these bad guys who pulled off this big, apparently complicated casino heist requiring teamwork, coordination, planning, and staying calm. Then, once they get to Montana or whatever, they all turn into these psychopaths who bicker and fight and argue so much it’s hard to believe they could coordinate well enough to hold up a liquor store, much less a big casino.

  20. Darth Irritable

    April 4th, 2011 at 12:37 am

    Stu – the only reason Eric says that is Julia would kick his ass in an actual fight.

  21. Austin’s the head trainer/host of the new season of Tough Enough, WWE’s reality show contest to find a new WWE Superstar. Watch THIS clip of him chewing out the worst three contestants. It’s beautiful.

  22. Stu, I watched the TOUGH ENOUGH premier last night and it was great. I can’t say that I like any of the contestants (However, miss USA is smoking hot), which only makes it sweeter when Austin berates them.

  23. “I [blank] my pants, and I kept working the match. What do you think about that?”
    Also, her answer to what her favourite match was, and his reaction, was fucking priceless.

    I like Jeremiah (the mma guy with the missing teeth, though maybe because between that and his shape and the fact he was wearing a red plaid shirt on Raw, he looks like a 2011 version of Mick Foley), and the one who’s more disciplined than the rest and made a point not to party the first night.

  24. Stu, her answer to what her favorite match was, and his reaction were hilarious. I almost [blank] my pants I laughed so hard.

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