Hunt to KillOverview -
After being taken hostage by dangerous criminals, a border patrol agent and his teenage daughter must lead the criminals through the treacherous Pacific Northwest mountains.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
It's always fun when a screenwriter thinks that, apropos of nothing, he needs to work the name of the movie's title into the script's dialogue. Look, I have a movie with Stone Cold Steve Austin on the front glaring at me with a crossbow. The movie is called 'Hunt to Kill.' Do I really need much more than that? It's pretty obvious right? Nah, just for fun we'll work the name of this title into the movie just so we know why it's titled the way it is. After the entire plot has played out, and Steve Austin stares down his enemy like he's going to crush him like so many of the mutilated beer cans in his past, he utters the words, "When I hunt. I hunt to kill!" Powerful stuff right there.
Jim Rhodes (Steve Austin) is a loving family man who lives near the Canadian border. He's a border patrol agent who has seen his share of nasty. In particular, he watched as his old friend (Eric Roberts) was blown away during a meth lab raid. When you kill off the most talented actor in your first five minutes you know you're in trouble. Before his friend's demise, Jim is given a watch as a present from him. The watch has a neat band made from climbing rope, "The band can be unraveled and used in case of emergency," says the friend. I imagine that in the margins of the screenplay, in big bold letters, was written the word "FORESHADOWING!"
Now Jim lives with his spunky, disobedient daughter who has taken a lesson from teenage daughters of movies past. She hates her dad, loves her friends, and finds nothing remotely interesting about being a part of a family. Ungrateful brats.
As Jim fights with his unstable offspring, something wicked is brewing in the form of a team of no-good thieves who just pulled off a major score. During their celebration the leader of the outfit steals the money and leaves a bomb behind to kill everyone in the group. Unfortunately, that bomb doesn't go off and now we have a needless movie.
The group of moronic criminals are led by Banks (Gil Bellows) who takes overacting to an entirely different realm. It's like he's trying out his very best impression of an Al Pacino rant where Pacino ends up shooting spit out his mouth. Banks leads the group to a rural city up north. Yeah, you guessed it, the very same city where Jim and his daughter live.
Apparently Banks slipped some sort of tracking device onto the man who stole his rightfully stolen loot. Now they've got to find this guy in the dense woods of the Pacific Northwest and the only one who can lead them through the maze of greenery is none other than Jim Rhodes.
Sometimes you really got to wonder, what's the point? Why even make this movie? This has been done a million times over, but not with Steve Austin. I guess that's why you do it, so instead of stunningly choreographed fight scenes we can have powerbombs and bodyslams. There's even an execution by ATV that you won't want to miss.
'Hunt to Kill' is a messy movie from beginning to end, but you expected that. It's one of those flicks that you'll be able to find at the bottom of a bargain bin one day, chuckle at how serious Steve Austin looks on the cover, and then take it home to laugh some more (until you watch it and remember that you paid cash money for the experience).
Very surprisingly, 'Hunt to Kill' looks rather solid on Blu-ray.
The movie was shot in HD on video and has no discernable cinematic quality to it. Instead, it looks and feels like a made-for-TV movie. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. Fine detail here is actually quite good from beginning to end. Notice the raindrops on Jim's truck during the opening scene, you can see each individual droplet and the tiny reflection of light it gives off. Facial detail is top-notch as Eric Robert's grizzled face offers plenty of crags and valleys to admire. Colors are well done, especially during daytime scenes. The lush green wilderness of the northwest is presented in great detail, giving us some deep hues of greens and browns.
The transfer isn't without its faults though. Nighttime scenes are flat, and don't contain deep blacks. Blacks hover around the grayscale and don't really provide all that much depth to the picture. Whites burn way too hot, which can be observed after the meth lab explosion at the beginning. The white of the fireball almost engulfs the reds and oranges, creating an unrealistic and unsatisfying explosion.
Overall I was surprised at the quality that a low-budget film like this would have. Even with its couple of glaring errors 'Hunt to Kill' still manages an above average video presentation.
'Hunt to Kill' comes to Blu-ray sporting a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless audio mix that is more of a run through the paces of the movie, rather than a exercise in audio nirvana.
The audio presentation stays decidedly average as the movie moves along. Prioritization of the voices is a little overwrought, with some dialogue, like Banks yelling, coming through too loudly. Even though they spend most of their time in the dense northern forests the entire movie is very light on ambient sound. You'd think birds would be chirping, crickets strumming, but it's more or less silent. There are a few times where the rear channels come to life, like when the group comes in contact with a roaring waterfall that fills the room with a rushing water sound. Mostly, though, the movie is very front heavy, even though it's not a very talkative movie. Most of the sound effects are localized up front making for a slightly unnatural listening environment.
- Audio Commentary – Director Keoni Waxman and actor Michael Eklund (Geary) offer up the commentary here. While you might find it hard to believe, I really couldn't subject myself to the full running time of this movie again, I have to say that I didn't listen to the entire commentary track, but sampled it throughout. It's one thing to watch an outrageously stupid movie, it's quite another to listen to the man who made the outrageously stupid movie discuss it. Waxman talks about finding places to shoot, the types of techniques they had to use to get certain shots, and just about every other dry uninteresting piece of information you could regurgitate for a commentary. You can safely skip this commentary.
- Behind the Scenes of 'Hunt to Kill' (HD, 8 min.) – Just your standard behind the scenes featurette that offers up a variety of random behind the scenes shots, along with interviews from the cast about how great it was to make this movie and play their parts.
- Trailer (HD, 2 min.) – A trailer for 'Hunt to Kill' is included in case you haven't subjected yourself to enough 'Hunt to Kill.'
Yes, 'Hunt to Kill' is excruciating. Yes, it may make for great fodder for you and your buddies as your reminisce about Stone Cold pile-driving his wrestling opponents into submission. Yes, you should maybe pick up the film if you find it for five bucks in some bargain bin somewhere on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
For the low-budget film that it is, the video is actually a pleasant surprise, but the audio leaves much to be desired. Special features might as well be absent. We don't even get a one-on-one with Steve Austin himself. Skip this title unless you have absolutely nothing better to do.
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