Jim Rhodes is one bad ass Border Patrol Agent. He’s cut from the same cloth as guys like Schwarzenegger and Stallone. His skill as a survivalist allows him to quickly negotiate terrain that would destroy the average man. When Jim’s teenage daughter is kidnapped, he’s forced to lead a band of ruthless killers into the wilderness to retrieve their share of a missing heist score. In order to rescue his daughter, Jim must use his unique brand of survival skills to outsmart the kidnappers before it’s too late.
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Released hot on the heels of The Expendables, this latest vehicle for former wrestling star Steve Austin features three of the cast members from the aforementioned action spectacular. Here Austin plays Jim Rhodes, a border patrol agent who spent most of career patrolling the dangerous borders of Texas and Mexico, but has relocated to the mountains of Montana and the seemingly less dangerous border between the picturesque state and Canada. Living in the mountains allows him to hone his survivalist skills and enjoy a life of safety with his teenage daughter, or so he thought. When his daughter is taken hostage by a group of criminals who were burned by their leader following a heist on a Vegas casino, Rhodes is forced to lead them through the mountains to hunt down their former boss and retrieve their share of the heist to ensure his daughter's safety. This is a fairly typical action setup and, overall, the plot was fairly predictable. But even with that being the case, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Hunt To Kill. I've watched a fair few straight-to-video action movies in my time, so know to go in with lowered expectations and enjoy the ride, but this really is quite a strong effort. It's by no means a masterpiece, and won't be bagging awards or receiving mass plaudits, but it's an entertaining action movie that's carried by Austin's lead performance. His action star chops are finely displayed in the final third of the film when he goes into crazy hunter mode and stalks the fools who dared to mess with him and his daughter. Here's where the film knuckles down and gets firmly into action territory, following the establishing scenes of the opening third and the second third, which is made up of escort duties. The first two thirds are good, but the final third is what will please fans of the genre as he deals with bad guys, busting out a few zingers along the way. Austin is a decent enough action lead and, whilst he doesn't quite have the same level of charisma and confidence on screen as he did when he was in the wrestling ring, he's far better than a lot of wrestlers who have made the transition into acting. My personal opinion is that he's better suited as the antagonist, as his recent performance in The Expendables shows. He cuts such an intimidating and menacing figure, it's like he's born to play the bad guy. Still, he's beginning to deliver zingers with aplomb and it's not that hard to root for the guy. Another Expendables link is Eric Roberts, who has a brief appearance in the film, in which time he and Austin show a great onscreen chemistry and have a genuinely believable camaraderie. It's a shame that they're not on screen together longer and, hopefully, they'll get chance to star together again in the not too distant future. Completing the Expendables link is Gary Daniels, who's another standout. The British former world kickboxing champion has a strong screen presence and, whilst his delivery of lines can be hit and miss at times, he cuts an imposing figure and clearly has the skills when it comes to the fight scenes. His showdown with Austin is the highlight of the film in a mostly well choreographed scene that's competently shot. Quick cuts are kept to a minimum, allowing the audience to take in the showdown in all its glory. If you're reading this, chances are that you're a fan of this type of film and I would say that this is definitely worth a look. It's got a fairly low body count and it's quite predictable, but it's an entertaining straight-to-video action film that's worth watching for the showdown between Austin and Daniels alone.
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