Hunted, The (1995)

Reviewed By Brian McKay
Posted 09/01/02 23:26:41

"An american-made Samurai flick that almost gets it right"
4 stars (Worth A Look)

Being an aficianado of Samurai Cinema (though I am nowhere near the expert that Oz is on the subject), it is nice to see a western-made Samurai flick that isn't a completely lame waste of time. Of course, this is mostly thanks to the Japanese supporting cast.

Christopher Lambert, who is generally a fucking hack but sometimes entertaining, is Paul Racine, a western businessman who witnesses the murder of a woman he has just had a one night stand with (Joan Chen). He manages to escape from the killers, (although they are supposedly skilled ninja) led by Kinjo (John Lone). Kinjo is pissed off, because he only shows his face to the victims who are about to die. Racine has seen his face, and now he must pay.

When Racine ends up in a hospital after his escape, he is visited by Takeda (Yoshio Harada), an aloof businessman who offers Racine protection from the ninja that will soon be stalking him. Turns out that Takeda is the last in a long line of proud Samurai who have been warring with Kinjo's Ninja clan for ages. Takeda offers to take Racine under his wing, not out of the goodness of his heart, but to use him as bait in the hopes of luring Kinjo out.

While this movie is obviously not going to be as good as the average Japanese Samurai film, it is pretty entertaining. There are some good sword fights, including one particularly bloody skirmish aboard a bullet train. Unfortunately, the film focuses too much on Christopher Hambert when Yoshio's "Takeda" is the true star of the piece. Not only does he handle a katana fairly well, but resonates a grim and stone-cold determination reminiscent of the great Wakayama Tomisaburo from the Lone Wolf and Cub series of Samurai flicks.

Drive-In Triple Feature Picks for The Hunted:

Anything from the six-movie Lone Wolf and Cub series. Collect them all!

Any Samurai flick with Toshiro Mifune in it - Yojimbo and it's sequel, Sanjuro would be a good place to start in a light-hearted vein.

Props to Yoshio Harada for giving this film a little boost of credibility, and for kicking some ninja ass "Lone Wolf" style.

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