Thursday, July 7, 2005

WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE

It was great seeing Rutger Hauer again recently in BATMAN BEGINS and SIN CITY, and it brought back memories of when the Rut was first making his mark on American B-Movies, back in the 80's. Sure, Rut started out strong, in A-list productions like BLADE RUNNER and LADYHAWKE, but it didn't take long for him to slide down to the exploitation studios. Sure, the movies were cheaper and goofier, but they sure kept him working, and I remember many of those flicks fondly.

So not long ago I ordered a copy of 1986's WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE, the B-movie sequel to the 50's TV Western of the same name. Found it online for $5.99, and man, it was a bargain.

Directed by Gary Sherman and starring Hauer (with a huge platinum blond mullet) as Nick Randall, great-grandson of Steve McQueen's TV bounty hunter character, Josh Randall. Nick is an ex-CIA agent turned bounty hunter (guess it runs in the family) in Los Angeles. When a Middle Eastern terrorist bomber (quite effectively played by KISS front man Gene Simmons) hits L.A., Nick's hired by one of his Agency buddies (Robert Guillaume, BENSON) to bring the bomber in.

A better-than-average late-Eighties actioner with a bit of extra effort spent on giving the characters a little depth, WANTED features great performances by Hauer, Simmons, Guillaume and THE X-FILES'S Jerry Hardin, and is capped off with a delightful B-movie punchline ("Fuck the bonus."). One cool bit is that Simmons' first target is a packed Los Angeles movie theater showing RAMBO!

The pace falters here and there, and there's not a lot of the big stunt sequences we expect in today's "action" films, but I just plain like these old 80's action flicks from studios like New World and Cannon. Your mileage may vary, but I dug it.

Anchor Bay provides another flawless, pristine transfer from the New World library, and the otherwise bare-bones disc includes the theatrical trailer and the teaser trailer.

BUY: Wanted Dead or Alive