I was content to let this thread die a natural death, but tonight I watched one of the most laugh-out-loud ridiculous films I've seen in a long, long time: The Hunted. I'm interested in knife/stick fighting and martial arts like Kali and I'd read that some of the knife fighting scenes in The Hunted were pretty cool.
So I thought what the hell, I'll give it a shot...
Well, the knife fighting scenes were just plain silly. The two main characters are highly trained professional killers who stab AND slash each other MULTIPLE times without doing any actual critical damage (until, that is, the director decides its finally time for the movie to end). How is this even remotely possible? If they were supposed to be super-human androids, I missed the scene where this was explained. Instead I literally laughed out loud several times during what - I imagine - were meant to be highly suspenseful, life-and-death struggles.
Okay, so the fighting scenes were really stupid. Maybe the terrific plot and dialogue made up for this? Uh, no, actually, they don't: there wasn't much of a plot and what there was was either recycled from other movies or existed solely to set up yet another ridiculous battle between our two superhuman androids.
Tommy Lee Jones plays the "good" android and we know he's good because the first scene shows him freeing a wild wolf that has been caught in a snare. Now this is a WILD wolf, remember, and one that has been injured. Nothing more dangerous than a trapped or injured wild predator. So of course the wolf peacefully allows Jones to lift up its paw and unwrap the snare. I mean, it's not like an injured wild predator would try to BITE a strange human who approached it or anything...Did I mention that Jones was the "good" android? The one with the power to communicate telepathically with injured wolves so they know he means them no harm?
Anyway, this movie was very, VERY stupid, in pretty much every conceivable way. There's even a beautiful female super model FBI agent who frowns meaningfully at Jones every few minutes but adds absolutely nothing to the plot. (How come whenever I get arrested by the FBI it's never by one of the super model agents?)
Yes, I know that some of you will no doubt respond to my criticisms of this movie by saying how much you enjoyed The Hunted, how much fun you had watching it, etc, etc. But that's not the point. The POINT was that the movie was unbelievably stupid, and just for kicks I checked to see what Mr. Ebert thought of it. I mean, he watches a LOT of movies, surely he'd recognize a REALLY stupid one when he saw it - right?
No, actually, uh, he gave The Hunted a pretty positive review. And he thought the fight scenes were "reality-orientated."
From his review:
"Consider an early hand-to-hand combat between Bonham and Hallam. We've seen so many fancy high-tech computer-assisted fight scenes in recent movies that we assume the fighters can fly. They live in a world of gravity-free speed-up. Not so Friedkin's characters. Their fight is gravity-based. Their arms and legs are heavy. Their blows land solidly, with pain on both sides. They gasp and grunt with effort. They can be awkward and desperate. They both know the techniques of hand-to-hand combat, but in real life, it isn't scripted, and you know what? It isn't so easy. We are involved in the immediate, exhausting, draining physical work of fighting.
The chase sequences--through Oregon forests and city streets, on highways and bridges--are also reality-oriented. The cinematography, by the great Caleb Deschanel ("The Right Stuff") buries itself in the reality of the locations. The forests are wet and green, muddy and detailed. The leaves are not scenery but right in front of our faces, to be brushed aside. Running, hiding, stalking, the two men get dirty and tired and gasp for breath. We feel their physical effort; this isn't one of those movies where shirts are dry again in the next scene, and the hero has the breath for long speeches."
That's right. He thought the fight scenes were realistic because the fighters didn't "fly." They were "gravity-based." And I love those "wet and green" forests. Man, that's reality for you. I can't wait for Ebert to reveal in his next review how realistic an ocean-based scene is because the sea is "deep and blue."
Ebert may or may not be a hack. I guess it depends on how you define the word "hack." But watching The Hunted, and then reading his review for The Hunted, has convinced me of one thing: as a film reviewer - he's an idiot.