Starring: Chris Mtichum, Bill Wallace, Ida Iasha, Mike Abbott
When it comes to heaping helpings of mindless action fun, few director's aim to please like Indonesia's own Arizal. One of that country's most noted and productive filmmakers, Arizal (gotta love that single name moniker) directed over fifty films and countless t.v. episodes dating back to 1974. Among his most noted pictures here in the West are the wonderfully goofy and full throttled cheese fest, The Stabilizer (which incredibly recieved an official U.S. dvd release via Troma) and the gory, freaky action/horror pic, Special Silencers (starring Barry Prima). Seeking more international appeal, the director was able to lure B-action film fave Chris (second son of Bob) Mitchum. The pairing seemed to have brought out the best in both. They first merged their talents in the 1986 nasty, downbeat, yet outrageously over the top revenge epic, Final Score. Two years later, they re-teamed for Lethal Hunter (re-titled American Hunter outside of Asia). This time, Arizal mostly ditched the dark atmosophere for a more devil may care approach and added heaping helpings of martial arts mayhem.
Mitchum plays Jake Carver; lethal hunter of badguys... and all 'round cool-cat. Jake finds himself at odds with a nasty gang who are trying to get their hands on a microfilm which contains sensitive information that can wreak havoc on Wall Street and could concievably bring a total collapse to the western world.
The basic plot setup serves as an excuse for what is really just one long chase and fight sequence. The film hits the ground running a mere two minutes in as a flabby local crashes his motorcycle through an office (guns a blazing) in order to steal the all-important microfilm. From there, the chase is on. There is scarcely a moment that goes by when there isn't some form of exciting and/or humorous mayhem occuring on screen. Awkward, yet energetic bouts that often give way to some painful looking stunts (the influence of 80s style of Hong Kong action on full display) as well as some really dangerous car stunts and even an unbelieveable mid film helecopter chase and bout (though admittedly, this sequence was a bit more exciting in concept than in execution). Arizal for the most part paces the proceedings well, never allowing it to become tedious and dull. Just when you think the chases may start to become repetitive, a major martial art bought or two is inserted.
As for Chris Mitchum; like his older brother Jim, Chris acclimated himself well to the B-movie action scene of the late 70s and 80s. He's not the iconic actor that dear old dad was, but he really gave it his all in each of his many films and this must have sat well with Arizal as he had young Mitch perform several of his own dangerous stunts like hanging on to the top of a speeding car and shattering through a window bare chested. The exception being when it came to the stunts he simply couldn't physically do (no more hilarious an example than in his first scene where his double had to do a back flip to avoid a bullet). He obviously is not an accomplished martial arts fighter (on screen, anyway), but the various local extras certaintly did their best to make him look convincing. For a ringer, Arizal brought in mega-kicker, Bill "Superfoot" Wallace. A dependable bad guy (one exaggerated sneer from him is all it takes), Wallace was given a lot of respect here by not only out dueling Carver's sifu, but for the most part, Carver as well (their penulimate bout on a train serves as a highlight). Mike Abbott (star of many Joseph Lai/Godfrey Ho films of this period) is effective as the beefy muscle headed co-conspirator. Peter O'Brien is known for playing the lead in Arizal's The Stabilizer as well as Rambu (yes, as in Rambo) in the infamous, The Intruder. Here he is playing of all things, a whimpy bad guy whom Carver eliminates early on. Ida Iasha plays Carver's love interest (she's the one whom the bad guys are after for the all important micro film) and proves to be a good sport as she is kidnapped not once, not twice, but thrice by the baddies! Repeatedly roughed up (including a torture by shaving cream sequence that was alo used in the Hong Kong hit, Tiger on Beat released the same year) and under almost constant threat of violence of some sort, she is perhaps the ultimate damsel in distress character. It reads horribly, but like the rest of the film, is so over the top that it becomes more comical than anything else.
If you're a fan of cheesy over the top 80s style action, then Lethal Hunter is all you could ask for and then some. Highly recommended!
***1/2 / ****
A special thanks to Jack J. and his wonderful blog, Backyard Asia for uploading this trailer: