'The Hunting Party' DVD Review ** 070105

The work = **
Ah, now here is a movie that seems like it is trying to outdo 'The Wild Bunch'. I can almost here the filmmakers: “you want vile, we’ll show you vile! We won’t have violent action sequences, we’ll just have long bloody sequences of people getting shot!” Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating.

Still, here is a film that I am struggling to find much merit in beyond the performance of the actors in the film. The plot goes something like this. A man who seems to get off hurting women while having sex goes on a trip with some friends. His name is Brandt Ruger (Gene Hackman) and he is so wealthy that he can afford to take his friends on a private train ride, with food, servants and hookers and give them all custom long range rifles. (It’s a hunting... party... Get it?)

He leaves behind his wife Melissa (Candice Bergen) who is promptly kidnapped by outlaw Frank Calder (Oliver Reed.) It seems outlaw Calder wants to learn to read so he and his band o’ outlaws kidnap school teacher Melissa to learn him some writen’ words. Yeah.

Now here’s where things get tricky. Brandt hears about the kidnapping and decides to switch the type of game his "hunting party" will be hunting. Now I am all for gritty, graphic cinema such as say 'Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia' or 'The wild Bunch' but this film just didn’t work for me. It is not a matter of the film being too graphic or too disturbing, it is a matter of the film having no clue what it wants to say.

What is the point of endless slow motion killings? Hey, I like violent action films but those are entertaining! Here it seems like the filmmakers are trying to convey something but what it is I certainly missed. Take the conclusion of the film. It has a certain wordless poetic quality to it but it is not a sequence the film has really developed enough to gain any meaning from.

Then there is the maddening notion of the people in Brandt’s party constantly outdoing Frank’s outlaws because of their fancy schmancey long range rifles. Several times the “hunting party” gets within range of Frank’s outlaws cause them to loose any advantage they may have and ‘ol Frank’s outlaws run away! Again maybe there something poetic or maybe there is something meant to be tragic but it is missed by me. And don’t even get me started about the “love” between Frank and Melissa. The circumstances surrounding their relationship practically make it downright insulting.

DVD = ***

The Look
'The Hunting Party' gets a so-so 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer with an optional full screen one that I did not check out. The widescreen transfer looked ok but didn’t seem very sharp, I’m guessing they rushed through this one. I am glad they at least released it in wide screen.

The Sound
The English mono track sounded alright to me. Nothing great but the dialogue was almost always easy to hear. There are also a set of subtitles on the DVD offering English, Spanish and French.

The Bonus
Ah ha! Bad movie no bonus for you! Ok, so even if I don’t like a movie it still deserves the quality treatment. How’s about some trailers or featurettes. Maybe someone from the cast and or crew could shed some light on something I’m missing from this film.

All Together = **
So, I’m a sucker for westerns but this one missed the mark for me. I give it two stars really for the performances from the cast who help to make the film at least bearable. One actor I left out mentioning does find the right sickly comedic tone for his character. That is non other than the underrated L. Q. Jones. (Pictured above.)He at least gets some evil glee in playing a minor villain you love to hate. Recommended for fans only.


'The Hunting Party' Links:


Copyright 2005 - 2012 Nate Bundy. All rights reserved.