Friday, February 22, 2013

Review: Death Hunt - 1981

Death Hunt
Director: Peter R. Hunt

Johnson, an unsocial Trapper interrupts a dogfight and buys one of –almost dead – dogs against the owners will. He claims that the animal could render him more that the measly $200 but Johnson feels sorry for the dog and insists on the deal. The former dog owner complaint at the sheriff’s office but the sheriff tells him that he won’t do anything about it. Frustrated the dog owner leaves but soon starts the rumor that Johnson is in fact “the mad trapper” knows for killing fellow trappers and stealing their gold teath. The sheriff now has no other choice than to bring Johnson in. He goes to his lone cabin but Johnson won’t hear of it. He’d rather die than to give in. Knowing where the accusations might end he flees and the hunt for him begins.

Studio S Entertainment released this in Sweden a couple of years ago and I think that many of my fellow Swedes might have caught their first glimpse at it for that reason. Not the most dedicated Bronson- or cult film fans of course but the general public. But on the other hand the general public might have no interest in this. I on the other hand find it very satisfying!

The first time I saw it was in my youth when my friends and I rented all the Bronson movies we could find. I’ve liked it since then but it was a long time since I saw it prior to the review. It never occurred to me that it was so similar to First Blood! In both movies a person with extreme survival skills are haunted, the audience sympathies lies with the hunted person as he has done nothing wrong really, he only wants to be left alone. There is also mutual respect between the hunter and the hunted in both movies. The environment is different of course; this takes place in a winter landscape and First Blood in the jungle like forest where John Rambo fights of his hunters.

Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson are the perfect cast in this film. They both seen to be just the part they are playing and the complete each other perfectly. Charles Bronson is the lone trapper who a suspected killer and Lee Marvin is the police official who’d rather not go after the trapper at all. But he must do so since it’s required by his job. There you have another similarity, the political one. When things escalates and the police can’t catch the fugitive the general public in both movies makes things worse looking for the reward money. It becomes more or less a movie where the money is more important than justice and right or wrong. But on the other hand, this is everyday life in reality – the universe outside the movie. It’s the perfect reflection of the real world really.

The trapper must do what he must to survive, which means that he seems more and more guilty to the crime that he did not commit. It’s kind of a frightening thought! People die because they just couldn’t leave him alone. The police know better but the general public don’t, they are short minded and only in it for the money, the reward. Do you recognize it from somewhere around you? The general masses don’t think, they just react on instinct no matter what the consequences are!

This is based on true events which indeed make it more frightening. I’m not surprised really, I just hope that mankind will learn somewhere along the line and evolves beyond the narrow minded thinking in the future. The hunt is an honest one until the general masses are blinded by the reward. It becomes a… death hunt!