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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Tiger Hunter (Blu-ray)
The Tiger Hunter (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory // Unrated // January 9, 2018 // Region A
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Tyler Foster | posted February 13, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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As a young boy, there was nobody Sami Malik (Danny Pudi) idolized more than his father, Azeem (Kay Kay Menon). He has a vivid recollection of the way the townspeople loved him, throwing a parade as he rode into town with the body of a tiger that had been terrorizing and mauling the locals. As an adult, Azeem has long since passed on, and Sami is about ready to leave his mother, Huma (Shalini Vatsa) and his home behind for America, the great land of opportunity, where he hopes to put his skills as an engineer to great use at a tech company that sent a letter inquiring about his services. Sami hopes that success in the USA will not only help him live up to the standard set by his father's memory, but also provide a means to wow both the girl of his dreams, Ruby (Karen David), and her hard-nosed father, General Iqbal (Iqbal Theba). However, making it in Chicago turns out to be harder than he anticipated.

The Tiger Hunter is a conflicting but ultimately nice movie. The film's intentions are positive, telling a story that shines a light on a certain cultural experience (that of Indian immigrants to the United States) in a certain time period (the 1970s) that most audiences are probably not familiar with. The only flaw is the way this unique story has been grafted to a framework about finding inner success that is especially formulaic, resulting in a film that is simultaneously original and extremely predictable at the same time. It'd be easy to walk away feeling as if the film is so slight as to not make an impression, but the movie's sweetness and warmth win out.

The script, co-written by Sameer Gardezi and director Lena Khan, is the biggest culprit when it comes to the movie's featherweight flimsiness. Early on, they set up a structure they hardly utilize, cutting from flashbacks of individual nuggets of Azeem's advice to the decisions that Sami is making in the present. Although The Tiger Hunter is ultimately about Sami letting go of his initial impressions of his father and his father's advice (including their build to an unexpected resolution), Azeem ends up making less of an impression overall than the character seems like he ought to, given the story is named after him. Khan and Gardezi also tend toward a style of humor that reads more silly and cutesy than than true-to-life (even when those details were drawn from Khan's own friends).

On the other hand, The Tiger Hunter shines when it comes to character. Although Danny Pudi's screen presence tends toward the same featherweight pleasantness that makes the movie feel insubstantial, his charm keeps Sami sympathetic and likable even when he's making the wrong choices. When settling in the city, Sami moves in with thirteen other roommates, all fellow Indian expats (and one black man) who came to America with dreams of engineering and who have settled for service jobs. He has an especially fun relationship with the perpetually optimistic Babu (Rizwan Manji), who loves all American television, ranging from "The Dukes of Hazzard" (even buying a busted up orange Dodge Charger) to "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (he has a cardboard cutout of his "fiancee" that he makes eyes at). At work, Sami befriends Alex Womack (Jon Heder), a cheery and wise photographer who also works in the drafting department that Sami accepts as a temporary alternative to engineering. Along with Karen David as Ruby, who has strong chemistry with Pudi, the brightest scenes of The Tiger Hunter are just watching these characters interact.

As a filmmaker, Khan's style is fairly unintrusive, allowing character moments to play out in a way that helps them feel real even when the script feels like a sitcom. The extended sequence of the characters trying to fool General Iqbal ultimately turns out okay because the tone never turns outright wacky, even when the scenario feels contrived to put a roadblock between Sami and Ruby and give Sami another major crisis of confidence to overcome. In particular, it's nice that even when the film is cracking jokes about its characters, it never ends up feeling snide or as if it's painting an ironic picture -- there's a general kindness and good-natured vibe to the movie that gives it that final boost of charm that puts it up over the top. The Tiger Hunter may not quite be as resourceful or plucky as its protagonist, but it comes close enough.

The Blu-ray
The Tiger Hunter arrives with colorful, eye-catching key art that nonetheless doesn't exactly say very much about what the film's about (I'm not even sure there's enough information in there, despite some visual clues, to clearly show that the film is a period piece). The Blu-ray and DVD copy are packaged in a Viva Elite Blu-ray case with no insert, and the rest of the design follows the standardized design of Shout's Select line.

The Video and Audio
No problems with either the 2.39:1 1080p AVC video or DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio for The Tiger Hunter. The film is a pretty straightforward modern digital production, with no fancy color correction or significant visual effects, resulting in a clean, crisp image with nice depth and a clean appearance (no film grain simulation here). Occasionally, interlacing effects are visible during quick motion, but these appear to be inherent to the original photography and not an issue with the disc. The real pleasure is not so much in the disc's technical representation of the image, but the design of the image itself, which is constantly rich with a wide array of colors, from baby blue to eye-popping, distinctly 1970s shades of orange and yellow. The sound is generally dialogue-heavy and a fairly nuts-and-bolts mix of music and very light or occasional atmospheric effects, and there is both a subtitle track for the non-English dialogue, and a full English caption track for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The Extras
The disc's sole bonus feature is "Not Just an Immigrant Story: The Making of The Tiger Hunter" (1:11:54). This is an extremely lengthy four-part documentary with the Lena Khan, Danny Pudi, Rizwan Manji, Karen David, Jon Heder, producers Nazia Khan, Megha Kadakia, and more that dives into the entire production. Everyone talks at length about how the story allowed them to connect with their own parents, how the story developed based on input from others, bringing the cast together and balancing them in the edit, the complicated challenge of producing the film, up through to the premiere, festival run, and release of the movie. To be quite honest, it could probably have been trimmed a bit to get to the meat of the story and streamline things a bit, but the passion of the entire cast and crew and their familial relationship comes through watching the piece.

An original theatrical trailer for The Tiger Hunter is also included.

As long as viewers expect to be charmed more than wowed, The Tiger Hunter is a nice little movie with enough insight and wit to overcome the predictability of its structure. Shout! Factory's Blu-ray is decent across the board -- consider this one lightly recommended.

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