Action Movie Fanatix Review: The Hunted (1995)

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One Night Of Passion.  Centuries Of Hate.  The Battle Has Begun

Starring: Christopher Lambert, John Lone, Joan Chen, Yoshio Harada, Yoko Shimada

Director: J.F. Lawton

1995  |  110 Minutes  |  Rated R

“This isn’t ancient Japan.  We don’t have ninja running around with swords anymore than you have cowboys and Indians fighting in Manhattan.” – Lt. Wadakura (aka Japanese Charles Bronson)

What do you get when you send The Highlander to Japan?  You get The Hunted, a modern day ninja / samurai actioner starring Christopher Lambert – not to be confused with the 2003 Benicio Del Toro / Tommy Lee Jones First Blood wannabe.

Paul Racine (Christopher Lambert) witnesses the brutal assassination of an innocent woman by a ruthless ninja cult.  After escaping many attempts on his own life he joins with a group of modern samurais to stop the merciless killers.

The story behind The Hunted is about what you would expect from a B-movie ninja / samurai movie starring Christopher Lambert.  The surprising bit is that it doesn’t feel B-movie.  Lambert does his best to pull some emotion out of this character but often comes across as being kinda mumbly.  The actors surrounding him really help him out though providing characters that feel fairly fleshed out for a movie of this genre.

The ninjas are decently stealthy and blood thirsty.  Their kills are plenty brutal.  The one bit I did find funny about these ninjas is that when unmasked many look like they are just young street punks.

Ole Highlander does little more than to run and cower at the beginning of the movie.  But lucky for Paul he has some badass samurai friends, especially the older guy.  His samurai sword skills are way more than the train full of ninjas could keep up with.  A bit later Paul gets a little training from a saki drinking blacksmith.  And by the end he gets in on the action a little bit.

The fights are a little more slow moving than I would like but they are plenty bloody enough to make up for it.  Unfortunately Lambert lets us down again and looks like he is throwing punches and swinging swords underwater.  He’s just so slow, it’s hard to take his fights seriously.

The soundtrack to The Hunted is a phenomenal original score done by the Japanese drum group, Kodo.

At the end of the day, The Hunted is just slightly above being just a passable ninja thriller.  The story and fights are nothing special but somehow The Hunted keeps its head above water and manages to take something that should have been standard B-movie fare and turns it into something that feels like it could have actually hit theaters.

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