Directed: Henry Saine
Writers: Jason Dodson, Colin Ebeling, Henry Saine
I saw the poster for this thing and it looked similar to Bitch Slap. I thought it would be another godawful T&A grindhouse genre flick, but when I watched it I was a bit more pleased with the results. But why would you want to see it?
So Bounty Hunter is a film based on a graphic novel that was being made in the hopes to make it an animated R-rated sci-fi flick. The makers of the novel, Jason Dodson and Henry Saine couldn’t raise enough attention to warrant a more expensive animated film (it does feel a whole lot like Heavy Metal), but they did manage to get it made as a low-budget short film at first. Next, it was to be expanded as a feature length film. And here we are. Drifter (Matthew Marsden) is a bounty killer who tracks down white-collar criminals who are responsible for bringing down the U.S. economy. These yellow-tied bastards are killed and traded for currency and the best bounty killers are treated like celebrities (or medieval knights). And Drifter is the best, but another bounty killer is more favorable in the public eye: Mary Death (Christian Pitre, redoing her role from the short film). Their strong rivalry is fueled even further by their flirtatious demeanor.
But everything changes when all of a sudden a bounty is made on Drifter’s head and Mary Death is now forced to pursue Drifter and end his life. Drifter is forced to go on the run with his new gun-caddy / comic sidekick Jack (Barak Hardley, also returning from the short film) and try to reach the Council of Nine, where he is to clear his name before it’s too late.
Okay, enough about the plot. And believe me, there are lots of plot threads going on. There’s the chase. There’s Drifter’s past to be revealed. There’s Mary Death’s past to be revealed. There’s a bunch of tribal-painted gypsies hunting the bounty killers. There’s Jack’s incompetency as a caddy. There is a shady organization called Second Sun popping up every now and then. There’s this whole world-building that the movie needs to explain. And there’s Gary Busey.
The film almost cracks under the weight of all the plotting going on, but the filmmakers are also smart enough to keep the film mostly focused on the lead characters. Drifter is as clichéd of a character as they come and it doesn’t help that Matthew Marsden is totally lifeless in the role. Also, Kristanna Loken does a small role at the end and she is terrible for the most part, as is Abraham Benrubi as Jimbo and Beverly D’ Angelo as a bartender. Gary Busey doesn’t even know what he is supposed to do in the film, so he mostly is just there looking confused. So it’s all the B-listers who fail, but how are the only two returning actors from the short film? Surprisingly, they’re both pretty great. Christian Pitre (she sounds like a European soccer player) is looking good in her sexy assassin role and she’s got the appropriate attitude. Her line delivery is a tad over the top, but in contrast to Matthew Marsden’s lameness she sparkles. Barak Hardley as the comic sidekick is really good. His timing is good and after the obligatory clumsy falls in the early scenes aside does pretty funny stuff. I actually laughed when he says to Drifter: “Are you risking our life for a chick who’s going to kill us?” He frigging nailed that line.
Like the cast, the whole film feels uneven. There is some unbelievably stupid shit going in the film (like the motorcycle wagon and Gary Busey) but also a lot of surprisingly decent filmmaking qualities that saves the day. David Conley’s cinematography is delightfully grounded and the action is well done. No excessive camera-shaking going on here. Also there’s genuine sense of joy to be found in the violence portrayed in the film. The practical gore effects (when they actually do them) are second to none and the first headshot in the film had me grinning. Best headshot with a shotgun since Punisher: War Zone.
So if you’re looking for a grindhouse flick that is all about violence, you could do a lot worse. But if you’re trying to get some nudity mixed with your gory action, you’re not going to get that a whole lot of that here. Yes, it’s cheap and yes, it’s kind of silly. But sometimes that’s enough. It’s is not great cinema, but it’s a good enough genre flick.
Best Scene: The ending assault on the office building. Jack’s gun-load-ballet was actually a good idea.
Most Memorable Bit: The ending assault. Alone worth the admission.