Here’s a look at a movie knife classic, First Blood, and a movie that tried to rip off Rambo. Spoiler alert: ripping off Rambo is never a good idea.

Knife Use in First Blood: Rambo-esque, but Not Ridiculous

After I saw First Blood, the first Rambo movie, some buddies and I started to look at it with a critical, knife-centric eye.

Nothing that Rambo does in the movie is impossible. Some of the feats require a very well-trained man who’s in excellent physical condition, not to mention one who’s stubborn as hell. The feats also require a great deal of luck.

I’ve always been critical of fight sequences where the hero beats up 10-15 opponents all at one time. You can see the bad guys hanging back, each waiting his turn. That doesn’t happen in real life.

However, in First Blood, each person Rambo fights is physically isolated, so Rambo can take each one on one-on-one. It could work that way. The movie was very well thought out choreographically.

At one point Rambo leaps from a cliff and falls through a pine tree, breaking tree limbs on the way down, and survives. Tricky and tough—and yet possible. I once fell out of a pine tree, breaking pine limbs on the way down, and wasn’t hurt at all except for my 18-year-old ego. It was about a 20-foot drop, not anywhere near what Rambo fell, but long enough to convince me that it was possible to survive it.

Rambo’s use of the knife in First Blood is excellent. He knows what he’s doing. One of the first things he does is use the knife to make a spear, which is a good idea because a spear is a better hunting tool and a much better weapon than a knife. For one thing, a spear has reach and speed over a knife alone.

First Blood is an exciting movie. If you haven’t seen it, rent it. It’s worth it.

Knife Use in The Hunted: Ridiculous

Several of my friends saw The Hunted and told me that it was the MOAB (Mother Of All Bombs). However, having seen The Musketeer, I didn’t believe them. While The Hunted isn’t the MOAB, I would put it in the 2,000-pound category.

The Hunted isn’t a remake of First Blood but copies it—and does a lousy job at that.

The movie opens with a hellish scene in Kosovo, with Serbs killing Albanians right and left, especially women and children. I think the viewer is supposed to get the impression that all the Kosovo violence has driven the villain, Aaron Hallam— played by Benicio Del Toro—crazy.

I realized that I was in a fantasy movie very quickly. Tommy Lee Jones, who portrays L.T. Bonham, is running through a forest that’s deep in snow when he sees a wolf caught in a snare. He catches the injured animal, frees it from the snare and then dresses its paw. The animal doesn’t bite Bonham or, for that matter, make any threatening moves whatsoever. Heck, my wife rescued a four-week-old puppy a few months ago and was bitten!

the hunted movie knife
(image via imdb.com)

The plot is that Hallam is a real killing machine whom Bonham has trained. The main action takes place in the dense rain forest of Oregon—sound familiar?—and starts with a scene of two deer hunters. The hunters are equipped with bolt-action rifles sporting monstrous telescopic sights. Stupid is such a harsh word, so let me just say that it makes no sense to use telescopic sights in underbrush so thick you can’t see 10 yards in front of you!

Anyway, Hallam threatens the hunters, telling them they have no reverence for life, and they have to match their guns against his knife. Needless to say, he kills the hunters, and subsequent photos show that he chopped them up like butchered deer. Meanwhile, it turns out that he also has killed a couple more hunters. Since the movie never offers any other reason for Hallam’s behavior, I guess he must have joined a radical arm of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

Bonham is an amazing tracker and expert knife fighter who’s called in to capture the killer. He starts out after Hallam and, of course, doesn’t take a weapon. Hallam immediately finds Bonham, they have a brief fight and the chase begins.

I can’t begin to tell you how incredibly stupid this movie is. For one, in one scene a thrown knife goes all the way through a tree trunk that looks to be about 3 inches in diameter! Bonham knaps a flint blade to use as a weapon, never thinking to simply buy a knife instead.

One of the most startling scenes is when Hallam breaks off chunks of leaf spring. He starts a small fire and then forges a knife using the chunks of leaf spring for steel, and another chunk as a hammer. After he rough forges the blade, he hardens it and then files it! I have no idea where he gets the file, let alone how an open fire that size develops the heat necessary to forge steel.

In certain segments, The Hunted is a direct steal of First Blood, right down to Bonham repeating a quote from the Stallone movie about how many body bags will be filled in the quest to nab Hallam.

The knife fighting and the scenes showing the training aren’t so much stupid as just silly. Some guy stands still as someone pretends to cut his throat, chest, stomach, brachial artery, and then moves down to cut both femoral arteries! I mean, what’s the point? How many times does your opponent need to bleed out? It’s like blowing up a rabbit with a stick of dynamite—the furry little critter can only die so much!

The final fight sequence between the two principals is very poorly choreographed. It bears no resemblance to a real fight. For those who have read my reviews about movie knives before, you know that I feel a fight must follow the flow of the film. In other words, it need not necessarily be a “real” fight but one that must be consistent with the plot. In that respect, the final fight does follow the plot—both are total and complete nonsense.

Don’t waste your time or your money on The Hunted. This time I did the suffering for you.

 

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