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Hunter Will Get You (aka L'Alpagueur), The
Directed by Philippe Labro in 1976, The Hunter Will Get You (L'alpagueur in its native France), stars Jean-Paul Belmondo as Roger Pilard (a.k.a. L'Alpagueur). When the film begins, he's cruising on a boat heading and looking tough. After a bit if that over the opening credits, the story begins and we see him promptly put a stop to a drug shipment in Rotterdam. He's a tough guy, and a smart guy, and a crafty guy and also a bit of a master of disguise, frequently using fake moustaches, makeup and latex appliances to (not so convincingly) hide his appearance.
From here we meet L'Epervier (Bruno Cremer), a villainous crook and killer who hires a young man to go into a jewelry store and rob it. When he does this, L'Epervier shows up a few minutes later dressed as a policeman. He kills the old man behind the counter and the young man he hired to rob the place, and when two more cops show up, he kills them too. L'Epervier is clearly not above killing anyone who gets in his way.
At this point, you can kind of see where the movie is going. L'Alpagueur is tasked with bringing L'Epervier to justice. This involves tracking him down and trying to keep up with him, but L'Epervier is as quick as he is dangerous. When one of L'Epervier's hired goons (Patrick Fierry) winds up in prison, L'Alpagueur, in disguise of course, goes into the big house with him to drill him for information. It works, and he leaves with the information he needs to really step up his efforts to catch up with L'Epervier, but it won't be easy…
Set to an absolutely killer score from Michel Colombier, The Hunter Will Get You is predictable and riddled with action movie clichés but it still manages to make for a very entertaining watch thanks mainly to the presence of a very stern-faced Jean-Paul Belmondo and a wild-eyed Bruno Cremer (who frequently steals the show from his top-billed co-star). Belmondo has a knack for action and he uses that her in quite a few impressive scenes. We don't get the over the top stunt work that some of his other, earlier action films have featured but he's still in very fine form here as the no-nonsense asskicker for hire. You could describe his performance here as Eastwood-esque, he's the strong silent type out to get the job done, rather than the wisecracking character he's played in other films. It works. Bruno Cremer, however, delivers the more impressive turn. As L'Epervier, he's fantastically sinister. He might come close to chewing the scenery now and then but we don't mind, he's just really fun to watch here. His character doesn't give a damn who gets in his way and shows no mercy whatsoever to anyone who crosses him. He's out only for himself and Cremer gets this, playing the part as just as much of a serial killer as a high stakes thief. These two actors are the main reason you'll want to check this out, even if the gorgeous Laura Antonelli has a cameo in the film.
As to the production values, again, the score is fantastic and the main theme will stick with you long after the movie has finished. Philippe Labro's direction is pretty decent. He stages the action films well and while the pacing could maybe have been improved a little bit here and there, for the most part the film moves pretty quickly. The script could have used more character development and more originality, the movie borrows from the James Bond movies a little more than it should, but overall, if this isn't the most unique action picture to have ever hit the silver screen, it's a solid slice of seventies suspense and action sure to entertain.
The Hunter Will Get You arrives on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.66.1 widescreen taking up 32.7GBs of space on a 50GB disc. Taken from a transfer provided by Studio Canal, the picture quality here isn't great. While this is certainly better than what DVD would have provided, there appears to be some mild noise reduction applied throughout. On top of that, the image can look a little smeary at times, and the colors look too yellowish throughout. There aren't any compression artifact or edge enhancement problems to not and the elements used where in great shape, but this looks to have been taken from an older master and leaves a good bit of room for improvement.
The only audio option for the feature is a French language 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono but it sounds just fine. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. Dialogue stays clean and clear throughout and the track is nicely balanced. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note, nor is there any audible sibilance. It would have been nice if the English dub had been included here, even if it isn't nearly as good as the French language option, but that didn't happen.
Extras start off with a new audio commentary from film historians Howard S. Berger, Steve Thompson and Nathanial Thompson. These guys have done a few commentary tracks for Kino's recent French releases and they're always engaging and well-informed, this track being no different. They talk about how the film is underseen among English speaking audiences, how the movie feels like it could be a Italian cop thriller, the quality of the score, the film's similarities to 48 Hours, how the film is interesting in that it's between Belmondo's sixties leading man period and his goofier eighties period and the quality of his acting in the film (as well as his wardrobe), how this and other Belmondo films compare to the crime films that Alain Delon was making around the same time, thoughts on the main characters in the film, the gay subtext present around Cremer's character, how at the time Belmondo's name on the marquee meant outrageous action the same way that Jackie Chan's name meant the same thing in his prime, how Belmondo's career changed after he had a stroke and got older, how accessible Belmondo's action films from this period are and lots, lots more. It's a good talk, maybe a bit more introspective in some ways than some of the trio's other talks, but well worth your time.
The disc also includes an interview with director Philippe Labro that runs for twenty-seven minutes. Here he talks about following up his earlier film, The Inheritor, with this picture, working on the script, bringing Belmondo onboard the film, working with his producer to finance the picture and how the film is meant to 'show animals in the jungle.' He talks about working with Jacques Lanzmann on the script, how Belmondo and Cremer were friends before working on this film, the differences and similarities between the two main characters, shooting the film in and around Paris, staging some of the stunts, how the film performed at the box office and more.
Aside from that, we get a trailer for the feature as well as bonus trailers for Le Doulos, Le Magnifique, Le Professionnel and The Outsider (all fine entries in Belmondo's filmography), menus and chapter selection options.
The Hunter Will Get You isn't the most original action film you're ever going to see but it is a really entertaining film regardless, thanks mainly to Belmondo and Cremer as the hero and villain respectively. Kino's Blu-ray release features a good commentary and an interesting interview, but the transfer isn't where it should be in terms of quality. Regardless, the package is still strong enough to recommend for Belmondo fans or those with an affection from seventies French action and crime movies.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.