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REVIEW: The Hunted (1995) - ManlyMovie

REVIEW: The Hunted (1995)

SPOILERS

‘I don’t fight for honor.  I fight to win’

The Hunted is an intriguing and action-packed gem from the mid-nineties.  It features engaging performances from Yoshio Harada and Christopher Lambert.

The film begins with New York businessman, Paul Racine (Christopher Lambert) in Yagoda, Japan where he’s selling computer chips.  At a hotel bar, he meets the nubile Kirina (Joan Chen) wearing an elegant red backless dress.  They bond over drinks and decide to go see a Taiko drum concert together.  Later, they have a one night stand back at the hotel.  Racine is then asked to leave.  When he attempts to come back in, he witnesses a ninja, Kinjo (John Lone) decapitating Kirina with a sword.  After seeing him, the ninjas slash at him with a blade and throw a shuriken, dipped in poison, at his neck.

The men that attacked Racine were ninjas from a cult called, the Makato.  Their leader, Kinjo believes that because a foreigner has seen his face, he must die.  Kinjo has an army of ninjas in a forest.  He believes that the foreigner has stolen a piece of his soul.

Racine, now recuperating in a hospital, is visited by master swordsman, Ichiro Takeda (Yoshio Harada) and his wife Mieko (Yoko Shimada).  They want to escort Racine away to the safety of their island.  Racine initially refuses Meiko’s assistance.  Ninjas soon attack the hospital with shurikens, smoke bombs, arrows and darts.  They kill guards, orderlies and policemen.  In the melee, Racine narrowly escapes and contacts Mieko.

Mieko and Takeda meet Racine at a train station.  On the train, they get attacked again by ninjas, who decide to start killing everyone aboard.  Takeda lures the ninjas to the rear of the train, where he expertly dispatches of them with lethal and bloody precision.  Mieko joins in on the action, skillfully firing arrows into the enemy.  After the battle, Racine is finally taken to the isolated island, where Takeda trains his students.

While Racine slowly recovers from his injuries, Takeda awaits the final confrontation between him and Kinjo.  A feud stretching back over two centuries, when a rival clan hired the Makato to kill Takeda’s family.

Writer/Director J.F. Lawton deserves kudos for filming the action and sword-fighting clearly.  The fighting scenes are not hyper-edited or shot in permanent close-up.  Additionally, one has to appreciate the erotically charged atmosphere and pulse pounding Japanese drum score by composer Motofumi Yamaguchi and Kodo.

Christopher Lambert is a likeable and serviceable actor in the film, however Yoshio Harada really carries the film and give it some weight.  He is a brooding and magnetic presence and is stylish with his purple handled sword, dark glasses and flowing overcoat.

If you look past its absurd plot and general craziness, The Hunted is a contemporary tale of samurai versus ninja that’s worth watching.

7

15 Comments

  1. The Night Rider

    September 7, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Thanks for the review, always enjoy finding movies we’ve missed, especially sorting out the watchable from the duds.

  2. Jacob Phillips

    September 7, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    Christopher Lambert is cool, shame he didn’t do more good films in his time. Anybody seen ‘Road Flower’? That was alright. Also, Joan Chen is a recognizable face since she was in Twin Peaks.

  3. jim

    September 7, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    It’s not exactly first class but I enjoyed it..The slaughter on the train is very well staged and Lambert always had a curious charisma despite being a bit dull..I always found him interesting and it’s a pity he didn’t get better parts . I’m a fan of Yoshio Harada ,another one of Japanese cinema’s seemingly endless supply of quiet, intense , charismatic actors….. No wonder the Japanese loved Bronson . He was almost like one of their own.

  4. Mucho Macho

    September 7, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    Good review.
    Here’s the thing about this movie for me it’s like it changes its approach or tone halfway through the movie first 1/2 it’s more serious with Christopher Lambert sort of turning into a bit of a clown halfway through the movie.
    But I still enjoy it. Good 90s B action movie

  5. Mucho Macho

    September 7, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    Christopher Lambert used to bang Diane Lane back in the day whom I still think is hot.
    Way to go Highlander Way to go

  6. Andymovieman

    September 7, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Christopher lambert is the man and the legend, so long live the highlander. He should be in the expendables 4 as a hero and not be wasted period. He beat out a lot of guys for the role of Connor Macleod like Mel Gibson, Kurt Russell, hulk hogan, mickey Rourke, Kevin Costner, etc.

  7. Barney Ross

    September 7, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    7? More like 10/10

  8. ChrisWhite

    September 10, 2016 at 1:41 am

    The Hunted is a Classic. With it’s violence and great musical score from Kodo. A movie to visit from time to time..

  9. Jimmy Smith

    September 12, 2016 at 3:40 am

    This movie was surprisingly good and I found it on VHS not long ago. The train scene was awesome and it was pretty action packed overall. Part of me thought though wouldn’t it of been better with Steven Seagal instead? “Steven Seagal IS The Hunted”