Monday, August 1, 2011

Movie Review – STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN In Hunt to Kill

I want to tell you about this amazing movie I watched Monday morning. But I’m going to have to resort to spoilers to do it justice, so don’t read this if you don’t want the magic of STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN in Hunt To Kill ruined for you. Just go to Comcast’s OnDemand service and watch it right now.
I’ve been eyeballing Hunt to Kill for a few weeks now. Like any normal, red-blooded American male I am a big fan of STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN. I like his wrestling character, I liked his appearances in The Longest Yard and the Expendables, I even thoroughly enjoyed the movie that gave us his first starring role – The Condemned. Heck, I watched a couple of episodes of Nash Bridges just because STONE COLD STEVE AUSITN was guest-starring. He’s not my favorite wrestler ever or anything, but the guy definitely has a high level of watchability regardless of what he’s doing. Example:
So it wasn’t a matter of if I was going to watch STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN’s new flick, but when.

When turned out to be Monday morning. I was so energized by WWE’s fantastic Money In the Bank Pay-Per-View that I wanted to take in more wrestling-related stuff. First I watched the Chris Jericho DVD set (It’s great, but they spend way too much time talking about Fozzy) and then I decided it was time for Hunt To Kill. Here’s the description, courtesy of Comcast:

In this solid action-adventure, a survivalist-trained Border Patrol agent and his teenage daughter are kidnapped by a band of ruthless killers searching the wilderness for lost loot.”

Pretty straight-forward, 80’s-action-inspired plot. I was ready. I sure hope you are, too; because shit’s about to get REAL.
The movie opens with STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN sitting in his Border Patrol vehicle with none other than Sharktopus’ Eric Roberts! They set up the fact that Roberts’ character is kind of a douche and that STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN’s character is receiving a promotion sometime soon that will take him out of field work and leave Roberts behind. Despite Roberts’ douchiness, he’s gonna miss his partner, so he gives him a memento of their time together – a watch. But no ordinary watch; this model sports a braided band that can be removed and used as line for your survivalist needs. 
REMEMBER THIS. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.
It turns out our heroes are staking out a trailer that may or may not be full of evil Mexicans making Crystal Methamphetamine. STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN wants to do things by the book and call for backup, but Roberts talks him into one last door-busting raid for old times’ sake. The pair sneak down a hill to the trailer and I have to point out that these two are the least stealthy raiders I’ve ever seen. They’re pretty much in full view of the trailer the whole time. 
This is made even more hilarious by the fact that they’re acting like they’re being super sneaky. It’s like two six-year-olds sneaking up on something with water guns, except that six-year-olds would have known to go around behind the trailer.
One of them kicks the door open and the pair find an empty Meth lab. They call it in as abandoned and request a Hazmat team to clean up. Once they leave the trailer we cut to the floor and see a panel pop up and evil Mexicans with automatic weapons start pouring out. Well, inasmuch as three people can pour. They head to the windows and take aim at our heroes, at which point Roberts realizes there was some scenery in the trailer he forgot to chew on and goes back in. One of the evil Mexicans blows him right the fuck away, immediately taking some of the joy of this movie away from me. I had pretty much figured out where we were headed by now, but it was still disappointing to see Roberts eat it so soon.
STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN sees his buddy go down, and rather than pause for a classic “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” he just stomps into the trailer and starts popping caps in Mexican asses.
There is an unfortunate trend in this movie of STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN doing extremely stupid things. The trend starts here where he somehow lets the last evil Mexican get the drop on him and then drops his wallet on the floor. The Mexican picks it up and says that now he knows the Bionic Redneck’s address and oh, lookee here – is this your daughter? And how he’s going to look her up after he waxes STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN. Our man is visibly dismayed, but just as visibly helpless and screwed; but then the evil Mexican’s head explodes in a red mist because Eric Motherfucking Roberts is not done yet, bitches!
And FINALLY the volatile chemicals involved in the production of Methamphetamines ignite and we’ve got a dangerous and unpredictable HOUSE AFIRE BY GOD! Then STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN pops up and says, “I’m comin’ to save you, brother!” and then the ceiling collapses on Eric Roberts and before STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN can even say “NOOOOOOOOOO!” the flames shoot up and our anguished hero has to dive out the nearby door and run away and dive in super-slo-mo or be incinerated like his (former) partner.
Fade to STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN asleep in the forest. He’s wearing a lot of clearly labeled Under Armor gear. He’s hunting (to kill) and is tormented by the events of four years ago. He gives the watch a mournful gaze and sets off to take something down. The filmmakers chose not to show us what exactly the Rattlesnake is hunting; I assume because they’re worried that all of the soft little bleeding heart liberals that elected to watch a movie about a redneck wrestler murdering people would be upset if said redneck wrestler shot a deer with an arrow.
Cut to a stereotypical computer geek dude in a stereotypical computer lab setup. The actor has been in a lot of stuff – most notably as a guy who could calculate possible futures on Fringe. He’s doing clever computer geek shit that’s helping some criminals evade the law somewhere. The criminals show up in short order and it turns out they’ve robbed a casino. Look, Hunt To Kill, I can accept a lot of things, but the gaggle of goons you’ve assembled here are no Rat Pack and Gil Bellows is no Danny Ocean. No way these jokers successfully robbed a casino.
But whatever. We’ll ignore it and move along because Gil Bellows is already seriously creepy in this movie and I like it. You never saw Billy Thomas act like this. Or look like such a shitbag.
We’re shown that there is the typical mistrust between the members of this little gang. We’re also shown an extra creepy scene of Battlestar Galactica’s Michael Hogan making out with a girl easily half his age for, like, a while
Gil Bellows does not approve. 
But he does give Michael Hogan a big hug (remember that – it’s IMPORTANT) before Hogan takes off to get rid of the getaway van.
Our gang of evil casino robbers consists of:
  • British Ken Shamrock from The Expendables
  • The black Kryptonian from Smallville Season 9
  • A blonde chick that I am unfamiliar with that likes old dudes
  • Michael Hogan (said old dude)
  • Crazy Gil Bellows
  • Scuzzy Computer Geek
Once the Bad Guys that didn’t star in BSG go to check out the bag of loot they get a nasty surprise: That dastardly Colonel Tigh has snatched the bonds they stole and replaced them with a bomb hooked up to a cell phone. The bad guys have seen The Dark Knight, so they know that when that phone receives a call it’s all over. Gil Bellows has watched more crime dramas than anybody else, so he manages to successfully defuse the bomb JUST IN TIME. The phone rings and Bellows picks up and tells the calling Hogan that he’s fucking dead.
Now we’re back to STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN in a scene where it is established that his daughter is a fucking asshole. This does show a softer side of the Bionic Redneck’s character, though, and makes him a bit more relatable. After he fixes his ingrate offspring’s Jeep she takes off; claiming she’s going to help her friend pack. STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN – kind of bummed out by the fact that his daughter is an asshole – goes inside his cabin to do some fletching (THIS IS IMPORTANT).
Once we’ve established his arrow-making skills (IMPORTANT), our hero gets a phone call from the local constabulary informing him that his asshole daughter is at it again. She’s gotten busted shoplifting and is being held at the Police Station.
The very same Police Station that the Bad Guys have just pulled up to. Oh, NOES! See, Gil Bellows planted a tracking device on Michael Hogan when he hugged him and since Michael Hogan only has one eye he didn’t see it. So the Bad Guys know that their runaway teammate is in town, but for some reason they don’t know where.
Apparently the Bad Guys thought the best idea in the world was to bust into the Police Station and demand that the old sheriff who has never seen Michael Hogan and does not have any sort of tracking device that might be able to help locate Mr. Hogan help them find Mr. Hogan.
So Gil and Blondie and Brit Shamrock go inside and start threatening the sheriff and STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN’s daughter, leaving Kryptonian and Computer Geek outside to stand guard. This was a huge mistake since apparently that dynamic duo’s idea of standing guard involved just sitting there and watching while a jacked-up redneck just walks right in the front door of the Police Station and into a bad situation.
Tussling and penis-waving ensue, but eventually the Bad Guys get the upper hand. They don’t know that the girl is related to our hero but they can tell he’s a good and decent fellow just from the five minutes they’ve spent shouting at him so they take her hostage in order to cajole him into helping them. Because having the help of an unwilling mountain man is much more valuable than having a machine that can tell you exactly where the person you’re looking for is.
Oh, they also shot the sheriff in the face.
The movie pretty much spends the next half hour drilling home the concept that the Bad Guys are Bad and Do Not Play Well With Others.
Kryptonian knocks out Blondie and tries to rape the Rattlesnake’s daughter. Luckily our hero hears the commotion and beats the fuck out of the Kryptonian; following it up by almost literally tying him in a knot. This scene is actually very awesome. 
The other Bad Guys are disappointed in their buddy for being a Really Bad Guy, so they shoot him in the face. They also figure out that their hostages are related, which they should have figured out earlier simply by observing what a jerk the teenage girl was to the redneck fellow. That kind of contempt can only be bred by familiarity.
Finally we catch up to Michael Hogan, who has been wounded in a gun fight with a forest ranger that STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN knew. The ranger is dead and Hogan is close to it. The rest of the Bad Guys demand he forks over the bonds, but Hogan does the ol’ “Nyah, nyah. If I can’t have it, nobody can!” and tells them he chucked the bag. Obviously the best course of action here was to just shoot him in the face and not even try to question the guy; which is what they do. Luckily, our hero’s dipshit daughter is all like, “Hey you guys, it’s probably down at the end of the river!”
I should point out here that STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN’s daughter is still being a total asshole to him even though they are in mortal danger and it is 100% her fault.
Sure enough, they see the tote bag with the bonds in it at the end of the river at the bottom of a cliff. The Bad Guys argue briefly about who’s going to go get it. STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN – sick of their arguing and probably just sick of his life at this point – volunteers, but only if they let his daughter go. They all have a good laugh at this while they wave their guns around and tell him he best get to steppin’ (or climbin’, as it were) and the girl isn’t going anywhere.
For all that this makes STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN look like kind of a pussy, I do find it to be a lot more realistic than some of the capitulating villains we typically see in this sort of movie. Why the fuck would these bad people make any kind of deal with this guy? They have the guns and a hostage, so there’s no reason for them to do anything outside of whatever their goals may be.
Here’s where the watch comes in. 
Apparently a facet of Eric Roberts character that we didn’t really get to explore is that he was actually a wizard, because STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN manages to unwind about two hundred feet of 1 ¼” thick rappelling line and a harness from that watch band. He does wrap the part that is obviously actually from the watch around a tree trunk and fasten it with the tiny carabineer that was the buckle, but then he lowers himself down the eighty-foot cliff (THIS IS IMPORTANT) using some actual rope that I don’t remember anybody actually carrying around. Granted, it could have been in one of the packs, but it really seemed like the movie was trying to convince me it all came out of that watch band.
After a harrowing descent, our hero retrieves the bag and performs an even more harrowing ascent, punctuated by OH MY LORD HE JUST FELL but then he catches himself and finishes the climb.
Once he gets to the top he once again demands they let his daughter go and Gil Bellows laughs and TOTALLY FUCKS UP. See, he’s spent the whole movie to this point shooting people in the face. For some stupid reason, he shoots STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN in the abdomen three times and the kicks him in the face, sending him tumbling right back down the cliff and into the freezing waters below.
This was actually double-stupid because – as Blondie points out – now how do they get the fuck out of these stupid woods?
By the way – the scenery in Hunt To Kill is absolutely breathtaking. This movie was filmed in one of the most gorgeous forests I have ever seen in my life. There are lush green trees everywhere, exotic flora and crystalline glacial waterfalls. It would be like watching a fantasy movie if it weren’t for all the insane people running around waving guns and shooting people in the face.
Anyway, Gil Bellows is all hopped up on murder and decides he’s going to cap this pain-in-the-ass girl, too when our hero’s daughter finally does something smart and claims she can lead them out of the woods. Bellows decides that might be easier than starving or freezing to death and agrees to let her live long enough to get them to safety.
Here’s where shit gets REALLY REAL.
STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN pulls himself up from the icy depths, cauterizes his bullet wound (Gil Bellows must be a terrible shot to have only hit the Rattlesnake with 1/3rd of his shots from two feet away) and finds the dead ranger’s bag full of supplies and crossbows. But no arrows. Who the fuck packs a crossbow and no ammunition? Luckily, we already know that STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN is a master fletcher and he whips up about forty arrows in a montage that could represent anywhere between ten and twenty minutes of time passing. And that’s including the aforementioned cauterization and requisite “AAAAAAARRRRRGH!”
And now STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN is on the hunt. To kill.
Computer Geek pissed off the rest of the Bad Guys while the Bionic Redneck was montaging, so they broke a kneecap and left him behind. There was this scene earlier where Computer Geek told STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN that they were going to have to “Put a pin in that enthusiasm”. so of course after Computer Geek got shot full of homemade crossbow bolts, our hero throws it right back in his face – because Computer Geek’s “pinned down”. GET IT?
The Bad Guys are having more issues than ever now after realizing that Brit Shamrock left the food pack with Computer Geek and didn’t mention it to anybody. He goes off to sulk and runs into a furious Bionic Redneck which leads to the best on-screen fight I’ve seen since Rowdy Roddy Piper fought Keith David.
There are kicks, punches, armbars, flips, roundhouses – two MANLY MEN beating the SHIT out of each other. Finally Brit Shamrock picks up two sticks (seriously) and STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN picks up a longer stick (for real). They use these to fight for a while until our hero – who has been shot, fell off an eighty-foot cliff into frozen water, made Lord knows how many arrows and then ran fast enough to catch up with people who had like a full night’s lead on him – manages to drive his giant stick directly through his opponent’s abdomen. With enough force that a full two feet of the stick emerge from Brit Shamrock’s back.
STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN says, “Sorry I can’t stick around.”
I stood up and applauded.
So now we’re down to one asshole daughter, two Bad Guys (Blondie and Gil Bellows) and one pissed-off Bionic Redneck.
Our hero manages to get ahead of the Bad Guys somehow and is stealthily observing them from atop a cliff. He has the advantage. He can totally get the drop on them around the next corner and let his daughter escape while he violently dispatches the dirty pair. So naturally, he stands up and yells, “Hey, BANKS (Gil Bellows’ character)!” and throws a spear at them. Gil Bellows dives out of the way, but Blondie just isn’t fast enough and gets impaled and pinned to the ground.
If you think the next thing that happened was that the daughter ran away while Gil Bellows mourned his fallen comrade and STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN made his way down the cliff for the Final Confrontation then you obviously haven’t been paying attention to the way these people behave.
The Rattlesnake’s genius fucking daughter ran over to Blondie to check on her and see if she was okay after being impaled by a giant stick. Gil Bellows did the “NOOOOOOOOO!” thing and our hero? He ran away. Right past the temporarily grief-stricken villain and his hostage daughter and towards a cliff. Gil Bellows was so confused by this tactic that he stood up and shot STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN three more times, causing the Bionic Redneck to fall off the cliff.
By now Mr. Bellows has finally figured out that his opponent is indestructible, so he brings the girl with him as an insurance policy until he can make it to the Canadian border. Which he does in, like, five minutes. They come upon a Mountie where three unfortunate Mounties just happen to be pulling up on ATVs. Rather than wait all of two minutes for them to go inside, Gil Bellows shoots all three of them, shoves his hostage down on the ground and speeds off down the trail. Doesn’t shoot the girl or anything.
Shortly after that STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN pops out of the woods to find his little girl safe and sound. There’s finally kind of a, “I guess I love you, Daddy” moment, which the Bionic Redneck rewards by hopping on an ATV and pursuing the fleeing remaining Bad Guy.
Why? He’s got his daughter back. She’s fine. That really should have been the end of the movie. Shouldn’t his priority be getting her to safety? But no, he just leaves her there with the dead Mounties and takes off. Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad he did; it just didn’t make any sense.
Meanwhile, Gil Bellows has pulled his ATV over because he’s caught a glimpse of civilization – a small town lies just through the trees. A smile crosses his weary face and he prepares to mount his ATV and ride to glory. But then he hears another ATV approaching! If you are Gil Bellows, do you:
  1. Just lie down in the road and hope this unstoppable madman runs you over so you don’t have to deal with this shit anymore.
  2. Hop on your ATV and hope you can make it to town and steal a car or something.
  3. Take off through even more woods and hide in a boarded up mine.
Obviously our next setting is an abandoned mine.
Which somehow leads into a factory that somehow leads into an underground tunnel, but we’ll get to that.
STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN easily follows Gil and they have a big fight with shovels and pickaxes and stuff. The Rattlesnake wins handily and takes a breather, but Gil Bellows shall not be so easily conquered! More fighting ensues and our hero once again puts Bellows down for the count. Rather than smack him in the head with a shovel fifty times or just drive the head into his chest or something, STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN goes and leans on the railing overlooking the factory floor; basically saying, “Gee, I sure wish somebody would tackle me and send us both through the railing and onto that stack of pallets on the floor below.” Which, of course, Gil Bellows is more than happy to do.
The Bionic Redneck lands on top, Bellows looks dead and our hero gets his watch back and walks out of an underground tunnel to find his daughter riding up on the third ATV.
I couldn’t just leave you! I guess I get that from you.”
Whatever. What matters is that a crazy Gil Bellows is stumbling out of the tunnel, covered in blood and laughing about how STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN can’t get the job done.
STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN tells his daughter to stand back, hops on the ATV, does a donut, does a wheelie and in mid-wheelie says – I shit you not – 
“When I hunt, I Hunt To Kill!” and wheelies the ATV all the way across the parking lot directly into Gil Bellows, pinning the laughing maniac against the tunnel wall. Bellows points out that he still isn’t dead, so the daughter hands Daddy a flare gun and tells him to go ahead and kill this dick, already. So the Rattlesnake shoots the ATV with the flare gun and what ensues is the biggest fucking explosion you’ve seen since the one at the end of Die Hard.
And then STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN and his newly-respectful daughter walk off into the proverbial sunset talking about getting her a new car.
That movie fucking ruled.
I might actually be exaggerating about the explosion because I was laying on my side with tears running out of my eyes and honestly couldn’t see all that well. I lost it when Austin hopped on the ATV and did the donut and I really thought I might die after he dropped the movie’s signature line. I seriously couldn’t breathe for a minute.
I highly recommend you check this movie out. I wasn’t even drunk when I saw it and I laughed my as off.

BIZAARO 3 OUT OF 5
Until next time, stay creepy
-Phantom

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