What do you get when you put Chuck Bronson, Lee Marvin, and Carl Weathers in a movie together? You get a badass action flick called Death Hunt.
Death Hunt is a 1981 action film set in the Canadian Yukon in 1931. American veteran war hero Albert Johnson, played by Bronson, comes to the Yukon for trapping, hunting, and what is obviously a desire to be left alone in the world.
He comes across a group of mean bastards having a dog fight. One of the dogs gets hurt, so Albert takes it by force and pays the owner. He goes off to build up his cabin and nurse his new dog back to health.
The head jerk is still smarting from the humiliation by Johnson. So he rounds up his pals and they head out looking for revenge on Bronson. We know how that is going to turn out because it’s Chuck Bronson. They shoot the dog and get into a firefight with Albert. One of the mooks is made into a good mook. So what do dirtbags do when their revenge plan fails? Well, they do what they always do. They then go to the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police and claim to be the victims.
This is where Lee Marvin steps in. Marvin is the head of the local RCMP post and, after hearing their complaints, he agrees to go and take a look even though he knows they are dirtbags and is pretty sure they are the aggressors.
Marvin and his small crew of RCMP show up at the cabin, backed up by the dirtbag trappers. He talks man to man with Bronson telling him he will get him safely into town to answer some questions and assures him he knows he is the innocent party. Before Bronson can give an answer, one of the guys takes a pot shot at Bronson, starting a firefight.
Several of the bad guys are killed by gunfire or by booby traps. Marvin isn’t happy, because now he knows they will have to take Bronson down even though he was innocent.
A standoff begins overnight with Bronson holed up in his fortified cabin. They blow it up with dynamite but Bronson escapes and this kicks off the hunt.
The rest of the film is the RCMP and the remaining trappers chasing Bronson across the Canadian wilderness in winter as he makes his way towards Alaska. There is some pretty good action in this chase. Bronson is constantly having to outrun and outwit the trackers right on his tail.
This includes jumping off a cliff into some trees to get away. There are a lot of things about the movie that will remind you of First Blood. The innocent US Army vet wrongly hunted, the jump off the cliff to escape, death fake-outs. Really, anything like First Blood is probably going to be good. Especially with Bronson and Marvin in it. Have you ever seen The Dirty Dozen for Christ’s sake?
It is well worth the watch.
It is based on the true story of the manhunt of Albert Johnson, the reputed “Mad Trapper of Rat River”. Johnson led the RCMP on a remarkable and highly publicized pursuit over several weeks. Of special note was the fact that Johnson eluded his RCMP pursuers in the dead of winter in the lower Arctic, crossing the Richardson Mountains in the process, a feat previously considered impossible.