Last year, I mentioned how I was using Blockbusters DVD by mail service, and they had repeatedly sent me the wrong movie. The title for the movie was the same but the year the movie came out was different. Well allow me to introduce you to the second time Blockbuster made that mistake. Years ago, I had caught the first half of this movie on TV but never got a chance to see the end of it. So I wound up looking it up and put it in my queue with Blockbuster. Unfortunately, Blockbuster would screw up again and send me the wrong movie. The movie I received was the 2003 film, The Hunted, but what I wanted was today’s movie, the 1995 film of the same name, The Hunted.
The plot: Paul Racine is a New York computer chip executive on a business trip in Japan. While having a drink at his hotel’s bar, Paul meets a woman named Kirina and winds up having a one night stand with her. Paul tries to extend the relationship but Kirina, thanking him for the night of pleasure, says she has no future and wishes to be alone. When Paul leaves Kirina’s room, Kinjo, the leader of a cult of ninja assassins, enters with two of his men. Kinjo tells Kirina that he is there to kill her and she says she accepts her fate but wants to see the face of he executioner. Impressed by her bravery, Kinjo reveals his face before decapitating her. Unknown to any of them, Paul had returned to the room and tries to prevent her death but he is attacked by Kinjo’s followers. Paul wakes up in the hospital and tells the police what he saw but they don’t believe him, thinking the killing was the work of the Yakuza instead of ninjas. However, Paul’s doctor believes him and asks Ichirou Takeda and his wife Mieko, descendants of a samurai family that have their own score to settle with Kinjo, to speak with Paul. The Takedas offer to take Paul to somewhere safe but he refuses, saying he feels safer in the hospital with the police guarding him. However, the ninjas attack the hospital, killing the doctor and the police officers but Paul manages to escape. Paul meets with the Takedas at the train station, where the catch a train that will take them to their stronghold, but Ichirou uses Paul as bait to lure the ninjas into attacking them. On the train, a group of ninjas, led by Kinjo’s lover Junko, begin slaughtering all of the passengers as they head towards the car that Paul is on. Ichirou meets them halfway and begins fighting the ninja, eventually killing all of them but Kinjo is not among the dead. When they reach Takeda’s stronghold, Paul ends up befriending the blacksmith Oshima, who begins teaching Paul the basics of handling a sword as Paul helps him forge a new sword for Ichirou. After three weeks, Paul realizes that Ichirou has been keeping him on the island to lure Kinjo into attacking it. Not wanting to put more innocent people at risk, Pauls wants to return home to New York but Ichirou has him locked up and then sends word to Kinjo on where Paul is. Mieko, goes against her husband’s wishes and has Oshima help Paul to escape the island. Kinjo arrives on the island, but as he stalls Ichirou, the rest of his ninjas sneak onto the island and begin to attack the stronghold. When the battle is over, everyone is dead except for Kinjo, Ichirou, and Mieko, who had been shot with an arrow. Ichirou and Kinjo duel with the result being Kinjo killing Ichirou, though Ichirou stabs Kinjo in the leg before he dies. Kinjo makes his way towards Mieko, but a returning Paul saves her by stabbing Kinjo in the arm. Kinjo and Paul begin to fight and Paul appears to have won and breaks Kinjo’s sword. But Kinjo continues to fight and is set to kill Paul but when Mieko throws a sword to Paul, the distraction allows Paul to decapitate Kinjo.
This was a pretty decent movie but it did have it’s bad points. The acting was pretty good for the most part. Christopher Lambert was decent and Yoshio Harada (Ichirou) was pretty good at being the “bad-ass” samurai. However, I thought John Yone (Kinjo) was too overdramatic for most of the movie. The plot was pretty straight forward. The whole “killing the witness to a murder” was actually helped by Kinjo’s superstitious belief that Paul’s seeing his face stole a part of his soul and he needed to kill Paul to get that part back. The action scenes were slow but well done, especially when Ichirou was fighting. The last fight between Paul and Kinjo looked really bad in comparison. It’s not a classic samurai movie, but for a modern era version, this is worth watching.
Rating: 3 out of 5