Thrill Level Runs High In Bounty Killer (Film Review)



Vivacious, vixen and vicious the film Bounty Killer takes pages from Grindhouse, Mad Max and Machete Kills coming up with a winning post-apocalyptic thriller.  The nicely choreographed, directed and acted film reaches out to those who are not timed and like a full course of violence and gore.  If you are comfortable with bloody hostility like Kill Bill or Death Race and want a tune up for your favorite Halloween Horror Night, then seek out Bounty Killer for some relentless hack, shoot and kick-butt thrills.

The world has gone mad and there’s not much left of it since its collapse except for a new law and order committee called the Council of Nine.  With big capitalists running the new world the underground Council issues wanted posters for the death of those who have become rich from profits based on greed, tax evasion, insider trading and the like. The Council offers huge rewards for bringing those capitalists back dead. The film opens with Drifter (Matthew Marsden) taking down a corporate big wig with the help of Mary Death (Christian Pitre) in a very violent altercation at a bar.

Drifter (Matthew Marsden)  in Bounty Killer

Drifter (Matthew Marsden) in Bounty Killer

Drifter takes his bounty to a way station where he gets paid.  He’s about to leave and the manager shows him a wanted poster of one of his close friends.  His first stop is a brothel run by Lucile (Beverly D’Angelo) who sets him up with a room, women and bath.  When Mary Death tracks him down and shows him a wanted poster with his picture on it, he convinces her to help him get to the Council of Nine so he can plead his case before he gets killed by a bounty killer or even her.

Mary and Drifter along with Jack, their gun caddy, start a long trek across the wasteland to the Council of Nine headquarters.  Along the way they have to deal with the Gypsies a band of slayers who seek bounties, the Coyote a gun dealer and deadly elements caused by the apocalyptic calamity. Screenwriter/Director Henry Saine moves the story along with a lot of action and chases (think Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome).  He uses some excellent camerawork to bring the film up close and then pulls back so his audience can see all the fighting and gun play.  In one scene he makes use of a real sandstorm in the distance to add realism to their trip across the desert.

Drifter steals a vehicle from the Gypsies

Drifter steals a vehicle from the Gypsies

The major players are exciting to watch as they take on different antagonists throughout the film.  I especially enjoyed the performance by Christian Pitre as Mary Death who shows some awesome choreographed moves while slicing and dicing her challengers. Pulling guns and knives from her hidden pockets she jumps into the fray taking down men twice her size and slashing away at some wicked women.  She’s the hero in this story and she wears the honor well.

Mary Death (Christian Pitre) takes aim in Bounty Killer

Mary Death (Christian Pitre) takes aim in Bounty Killer

But, whenever her back is against the wall, Drifter’s there to give her a hand or leg or arm or whatever limb he has available and Matthew Marsden plays the role perfectly.  The opening scene in my book goes down as a classic fight with Mary Death saving Drifter in a battle reminiscent of Grindhouse ‘Death Proof’’.  Adding a little comedy we find the two recovering from the violent battle with Drifter hanging on to Mary who’s dangling from the edge of a tall building.

Speaking of comedy, the film does have some nicely placed laughs to ease the tension and rampant aggressive combat.  Most of the fun stuff comes with Jack, Drifters gun caddy, who finds himself in some very precarious situations. Barak Hardley handles the character extremely well with his quirky banter, wrong decision making and clumsy handling of Drifter’s tools of his trade.  Following one scene with a wild shot hitting Mary and now in the arms of Drifter, Jack delivers the line “You guys gonna keep smooching or do you wanna go shoot more people” and in this sappy moment it’s priceless.

Gary Busey shows up in the film as a messenger for the greedy corporation Second Sun who adds comedy only he can deliver.  Looking serious and trying to be tough just doesn’t fit the actor in this film and his out of place character actually steals the show with a few laughs at that point.  The everl beautiful Beverly D’Angelo (National Lampoon’s Vacation) plays Lucile a highly respected madam who provides girls for rich gentlemen.  She works her girls making sure they are entertaining their guests all the while helping Mary Death and Drifter in some tight situations.

Bounty Killer is based on a graphic novel called “The Kickstart” that was written by Jason Dodson and illustrated by director Henry Saine.  The two first made the novel into a short film called Bounty Killer then collaborated on the feature bringing it to life.  I like their handling of this genre very much for the campy excitement that only films of this ilk can provide.  It’s as good as or even better than most filmmaker attempts to mix extreme violence with comic relief and for that Saine’s a winner.

Bounty Killer has been rated R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity.  A lot of heads roll and there must have been barrels of fake blood mixed to show the effects of the countless stabbings, chopping, slashing and dismemberment.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A terror film that nestles in nicely with the best of ‘grindhouse’ (B)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Matthew Marsden, Christian Pitre, Barak Hardley, Eve, Gary Busey, Beverly D’Angelo, Alexa Vega
Directed by: Henry Saine
WRITERS:  Jason Dodson, Colin Ebeling, Henry Saine
Genre: Grindhouse, Action, Adventure
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity    
Running Time: 1 hr 32 min
Opening Date: September 6, 2013
Distributed by: ARC Entertainment

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