Death Hunt (1981): Breakdown by Rantbo
Backwoods trapper rednecks thought they could fuck with Charlie Bronson. They thought wrong.
Directed by Peter Hunt, the father of modern Action editing and starring Chuck Bronson and Lee Marvin, two old school hard-boiled ass kickers, DEATH HUNT would have been pretty hard-pressed to suck before my eyes. But, it didn’t exactly blow me away either.
The film is based on the true story of one of the greatest manhunts of the 20th century, that I’d never heard about until I read the back of the DVD case. BUT, unlike most “true” story movie adaptations this one featured the actors speaking the correct language and there wasn’t a single ghost trying to destroy a rural family of dumb-ass white people, so it had that going for it. The story goes like this, Legendary outdoorsman (Bronson) pisses off some hunters by interrupting a dogfight and the drunken assholes swear revenge. On the poorly planned excursion to enact said vengeance, the fools push too far and one gets his brains rapidly evacuated from his skull.
And like all sore loser bullies, the hillbillies abuse the circumstances and turn the whole situation into a pissing match in which no zippers are ever returned to their upright and locked positions. A full on manhunt commences.
The small issues I took were all within the final act. As I can only watch Bronson run awkwardly uphill in snowshoes for about 30 minutes before I start not to care, and this one pushed it over by about 10. Which, while it never really gets boring, is a pretty big disappointment after the stellar 1st act, which was a gun slinging thrill-a-minute. The sequence where the posse comes to bring in Bronson’s character, Johnson, is fantastic. Guns are discharged, shit blows up, rednecks die—all good things. But the other 75 percent is mostly running in the snow. And I fucking hate snow. But, even though my personal feelings toward the second and third act made it kind of a let down, I still quite enjoyed the picture as a whole. All-in-all, I’d give it a better than average score and recommend it to fans of gritty old-man Sunday-Dad movies and THE DIRTY DOZEN alumni.
[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]
Charles Bronson is Albert Johnson
“Can’t be no normal man.” “No he’s a killer.”
“Maybe it was his ghost or somthin’.”
“He was one of the American’s best trained men. Special intelligence squad in the war. He was trained in survival tactics…” “He ain’t no rookie.”
“We’ve been hunting a man who lives off the land and knows the terrain.”
Johnson is more manly than a lodge full of drunken lumberjacks. His profession of choice as a hunter/trapper/killer has him conquering nature with blades and bullets and he spends 90% of the film trumping around the wilderness, doing just that. Albert is on the lamb after “defending himself” (slaughtering local hillbillies) and not only is his machismo enough to survive the bitter cold of the Yukon, he actually thrives on it. Not to mention he wields a set of double guns and is able to survive his cabin exploding around him via a bundle of dynamite thrown by Action Jackson—without a scratch, I might add.
Lee Marvin is Sgt. Edgar Millen, RCMP
“Your cigars taste like shit and you’d probably crack your face if you laughed out loud.”
“He’s the last man in the WORLD that anybody’d want on his trail.”
Disgruntled, alcoholic burnt-out cops on the edge are a dime a dozen, but Millen is a Royal Canadian (I know, I know, but hear me out) Mounted Policeman, so that’s something special. As it turns out, it wasn’t a bad decision or last resort that made Millen a cynical washout officer in Mooseknuckle Canada, it’s the fact that he’s so god damn honorable he feels the need to punish himself. At least that’s how I see it. Millen is such a macho ballsy hero, that he is able to sense out like-minded characteristics in Johnson and instant manly respect is achieved. He’s tough, he’s fair, he’s Lee Marvin and he always gets his man.
[THE BODY COUNT: 9 MEN, A DOG, A DEER and SOME FISH]
Though the back of the DVD case claims Bronson ends 5 men’s lives, I only counted 4 and a badly wounded Ed Lauter. Which sounds pretty lackluster, but when you consider that this is based on a true story, it’s understandable that they didn’t have Charlie going apeshit and slaughtering half of British Columbia. Though, I would have probably preferred the exaggeration. On top of that, another 5 men meet their end over the course of the manhunt, one of which was even in a plane crash…
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
Mounty Air Captain Jerk-Off gets a little overzealous when trying to shoot Johnson out of a tree and doesn’t exactly take careful aim. He ends up blasting the shit out of his fellow hunters and kills Carl Weathers dead. So, yeah—fuck this guy. Luckily, the other Mounties share my sentiment and riddle the asshole’s plane with bullets, causing him to crash into a mountainside.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
“I have to know everything about this man we’re going after. I gotta know him so good—I can taste him.”
Hunters are gay. Plain and simple.
There is something about getting up at the crack of dawn with a bunch of other men, wandering out in the wilderness, huddling together in a constricted place and watching the sun come up, all in matching outfits that just screams; “I love chugging other men’s jizz!” On top of that, the officers seem to have some extra curricular activities as well.
“I’m goin’ in after him. Back me. Nail anything that moves—except me.” (We’ll do that later 😉 )
There is a moment in the third act, where Ed Lauter (the hunter that started the shit-storm with Johnson), is camping out with the 3 Mounties and as one would expect, some male-bonding and good old-fashioned ribbing takes place. But, then Ed takes it a step further and starts to comment on how fair the rookie’s complexion is and out of nowhere grabs him and starts raping his mouth with his tongue! And the other guys just watch in awe!
Jesus, that settles it—hunting is second only to buttfucking on the queer-o-meter.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
As this is a movie about a man-hunt, there is little time for female bullshit, but there are a couple ladies that get a line or two. One is some blonde that Millen shags and I’m not sure what her purpose was because I fast forwarded the two scenes she was in. Sorry, but it was fucking boring, OK? But the other one is a big ass thick-set Indian bitch that the men all call Buffalo Woman.
And Buffalo’s job is to fuck the RCMP members and sit on Carl Weathers’ lap. Seriously. She’s just a whore the Mounties pass around. Gotta love the 1930’s.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
After the vigilante posse fills Johnson’s house with enough bullets to end a war, one of the mouth-breather’s gets cocky and goes in for the scalp, and gets a chest fulla lead instead.
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
“There’s nothing in the books that says fuckin’s against the law.” Just don’t think you can do it to Charlie Bronson and get away without a bullet in your melon.
[THE CHECKLIST: 12 outta 25]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor” [Carl Weathers]
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[ ] Factory/Warehouse
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[ ] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[ ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[ ] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[ ] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[X] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[ ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice