Night Hunter (1996)

17% – Critics
17% – Audience

Night Hunter Storyline

Jack Cutter is the last in long line of vampire hunters. After killing few vampires in one L.A. restaurant, he is chased both by police and by other vampires. In the process he meets an attractive woman-reporter.—Dragan Antulov

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Night Hunter Movie Reviews

“We must feed so that we may breed.” Quite good fun in a dumb sort of way.

Night Hunter starts in ‘1968’ as a young Jack Cutter (Chris Aguilar) is unexpectedly handed the family tradition of becoming a Vampire hunter when a fellow Vampire hunter Sid O’Mack (Sid Haim) betrays his family & hands them over to the Vampire’s, to aid Jack on his quest he is given a book that contains the name of every Vampire alive, or dead whichever way you look at it… Jump to ‘June 1995’ & Los Angeles where the now adult Cutter (Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson, also credited as co-producer) has but four names left in the book including, Argento (Vince Murdocco) & Carmella (Sophia Crawford) together they are the last of the American Vampires. As they all dine in a restaurant Cutter crashes the party & kills them, job done right? Wrong as King of the Vampires Bruno Fischer (Nicholas Guest) calls in the last four remaining Vampires from around the world, the French Tournier (Maria Ford), the Asian Hashimoto (Ron Yuan), Ulmer (David ‘Shark Fralick) & Sangster (Vincent Klyn) to track Cutter down & kill him. Meanwhile Detective’s Hooper (Marcus Aurelius) & Browning (Cash Casey) don’t have a clue & a nosey reporter named Raimy Baker (Melanie Smith) becomes involved in the battle between Cutter & the Vampire’s on which the very fate of Earth rests!

Directed by Rick Jacobson I thought Night Hunter was quite a fun way to pass 85 odd minutes. The script by William C. Martell mixes martial arts & horror with a fair degree of success, it moves along at a nice pace & is at least never boring & thankfully doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. The character names that reference other horror film director’s/actors are a little tacky though. Some may be surprised at how closely Night Hunter resembles Blade (1998) yet was made a couple of years prior, the lone moody long coat wearing Vampire hunter who happens to be an expert in martial arts, the scene set in a nightclub & the innocent woman drawn into the world of Vampire’s. Night Hunter doesn’t really stick to traditional Vampire film law, for instance sunlight only irritates their eye’s, they can only breed on a solar eclipse (why?), stakes through the heart & garlic is no good as the way to kill a Vampire in Night Hunter is to break it’s neck. I could have done with a bit more horror & a bit more blood as it leans more towards the martial arts side of things. The dialogue is suitably cheesy & the character’s are just about likable enough in a silly way.

Director Jacobson does his best to ruin the film, the actions scenes are OK but lack a certain something & for some bizarre reason whenever an action sequence takes place he shakes his camera constantly, it’s like the camera is placed upon a washing machine full cycle! Hey Rick, mate, it’s not clever or stylish it’s irritating & annoying. The gore is disappointing with a few gory gunshot wounds & a few splashes of blood, breaking Vampire’s necks don’t involve much blood unfortunately.

With a budget that probably didn’t amount to much Night Hunter is competently made throughout. The acting was bad most of the time & what’s with ‘The Dragon’ thing in Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson’s name? Has he legally changed his name? Does he sign cheques Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson?! Does he get mail addressed to him in that name? I think I might do something like this, from now on I want to be known as Paul ‘The Killer Klown’ Andrews…

Night Hunter is one of those crap films that transcends it’s limitations & awfulness to become pure golden entertainment. If you like your films fun then Night Hunter might be for you, if your looking for big-budget thrills in a similar vein (! Vampire’s, veins & blood get it?) then Blade & it’s sequels would probably be a better choice. What the hell, I liked it so sue me.

A Different Don

Jack Cutter (The Dragon) comes from a long line of vampire hunters. When he was just a kid, vampires attacked his family farmhouse. The Cutter family has a sacred book all about vampires and how to combat them. His family tells him “don’t trust anyone”, and he is sent off to be on his own. In 1995, now an adult, Cutter has tracked and killed every vampire in existence – except an elite underground club of nine multiracial vamps, led by the sinister Brit Bruno (Guest). Cutter teams up with Raimy Baker (Smith), a reporter for the “National Inquisitor”. But can he get over his deep-seated trust issues? Can he avoid the cops and exterminate the last vampires on earth before the solar eclipse when they will gain maximum power? Will Jack live up to his nickname of “The Hunter”? Night Hunter is a Ring of Fire (1991) reunion of sorts, as Don The Dragon, Maria Ford, Ron Yuan and Vince Murdocco all return in front of the camera, and Rick Jacobson and Art Camacho behind it. However, there seems to have been a conscious effort to do something totally different and not repeat themselves. They succeeded in that, and it is a nice novelty to see Don in a different kind of role: a dark, horror-tinged storyline instead of a sunny, romantic one like Ring of Fire. Two sides of a coin I guess. Maria Ford is always welcome, and Melanie Smith will be instantly recognized by Seinfeld fans as Jerry’s girlfriend in a story arc on that show.

Don doesn’t say anything until 20 minutes into the movie, and his character and dress are very clearly influenced by The Crow (1994) and Brandon Lee. It’s also one of the better Don performances we’ve seen, as his wooden delivery is hidden well by a character that doesn’t talk much anyway. As this is a Corman production, and he is known for “borrowing” ideas popular at that time, the film also borrows the flamenco music of Desperado (1995) and some ideas from From Dusk Til Dawn (1996). Interestingly it predates Blade (1998) in the fact that it has Vampire POV and Ford’s character is similar to Traci Lords’.

As far as the fights are concerned, it seems to be a mix of gunplay and martial arts, and highlighted by Don’s punishing finishing moves and death blows. A positive for Night Hunter is that it seems to have created its own vampire rules and mythos. For example, vampires may come out during the day, especially if they wear special sunglasses. Vampires shoot guns, and there is a gunshot-cure serum. Notably, you can only kill them by breaking their neck. So that sets the stage for some violent moves. But there is a major downside…

You’ve heard of “shaky cam” but during the fight scenes, they seem to have initiated something we called “earthquake cam”. The screen violently shakes, so much so you begin to feel ill. The attempt to be stylish is somewhat appreciated, but you can’t sicken your audience by sticking the camera in one of those paint-shaking machines at the hardware store and not expect a reaction. If this was done to cover up the moves of the actors, there’s no need for that as Don’s moves are excellent. They really should have reined in the earthquake cam. And sometimes they added a strobe light on top of it! For a Don The Dragon movie with more of a professional sheen, and featuring Don in an unorthodox role, by all means try Night Hunter…but beware the earthquake cam.

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And now for something a little different from The Dragon….

….and by different, I mean that he plays what you could call an older male Buffy in this one! (Or maybe you could say a white Blade, but he came later). “Night Hunter” scores novelty points for combining vampires with martial arts: of course traditional vampire elimination methods simply won’t do, according to this mythology the only way to conclusively kill one of them is to break his (or her) neck! There are two main problems with this film: a) it is quite slow-moving, b) the camera-work employs what could be described as an “earthquake effect” during some of the fight scenes – the restaurant one in particular almost made me nauseous! But the fights themselves are tightly choreographed in a mostly grounded style by the experienced Art Kamacho, and Wilson’s fight with Ron Yuan is good by any standards. Glad to see Maria Ford and Sophia Crawford as sexy, high-kicking bisexual vampires, but they are both underused – they never even share the screen together. **1/2 out of 4.