Night Hunter (1996)

Ah, the 1990s, when the mullets and male ponytails of the 1980s had transitioned to the bad guys, along with designer suits featuring shoulder pads. Now all the villains are massive body builders with leather do-rags, and they run in pricey restaurants and upscale hotels. It was truly a magical time, where you could spot a villain by his bad taste. Admittedly you could also spot a hero by the black trenchcoat he was wearing in the L.A. heat too, so I suppose it goes both ways. Also, we got martial arts movies with vampires.

What’s that you say? Martial arts and vampires? I know, it seems like a strange combo, but the action/horror mix has actually been a staple for many of the big names. Arnold Schwarzenegger took on Satan in End of Days. Wesley Snipes battled his own vampires in Blade. While not supernatural, Sylvester Stallone still duked it out with a serial killer in D-Tox. Steven Seagal fought his own vampires in Against the Dark, and by that I mean he walked around a lot while other people actually dealt with the vampires. We’re lucky he didn’t run since he’s no Tom Cruise. Most importantly, Chuck Norris took on an indestructible man in Silent Rage and then later took on Satan’s emissary in Hellbound. So it makes total sense that Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson would get his own shot against vampires.

Don Wilson plays Jack Cutter, a boy from a long line of super-powered hunters whose family is killed by the vampire king. Two decades later, it’s the 1990s, Wilson is rocking some long hair and stylish all-black threads, and he’s using a double-barrelled shotgun to take down the last of the US vampire family in a classy restaurant, where nobody notices a guy sneaking through with a shotgun until he opens fire. It’s too bad the king vampire is a French dude, because Don doesn’t know about him. A journalist then tracks down Don, and he has to kick the vampire king’s butt while combating awkward reimaginings of vampire lore, awkward muscle hunks and hot lesbian vampires, and the origins of shaky cam. Truly, this movie is something special.

Yeah, there’s some stuff in this movie that hurts, but one thing that it plays with is that vampires aren’t really like what we think. Yes, they sleep in coffins, have better night vision, and drink blood. But they can walk around at day and only die from neck breaks due to their super fast regenerative blood. Hey, guess who’s good at neck breaks? If you said Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson, you win a prize! Also, why is it some kind of requirement that vampires be beautiful, and that female vampires be at the very least bisexual? Ever since Carmilla came out, we’ve been seeing homosexuality get demonized like this. Hell, probably even before. It’s a socially awkward trait of these kinds of horrors that we’re still adhering to.

Also, shaky cam. This movie has got it. This movie has got loads of it. You see it in every fight, which is unfortunate, because it was obviously being used as a crutch to make up for limited choreography. Look, Don Wilson was a professional bad ass who knows how to fight, but it mostly gets wasted here for spinning kicks and back fists that only look worse because the camera jolts like it’s from a Sam Raimi production on a caffeine binge. Jump cuts then make the fight sequences even worse as suddenly action appears to reset with fighters in different positions. Wilson deserves a better class of film, and I say this knowing full well he gave us CyberTracker.

To make matters worse, there’s a single cop who pretends to listen, then discovers that vampires are real, so he very quickly decides to head back to help out Don Wilson by quickly going home to change. When he and Wilson end up in the vampire lair, he loudly declares, “I’m scared. We should split up.” Guess who’s gonna get shot? Yeah, it’s that guy. Of course, the LAPD are more than overzealous in how they police in this film, so…yeah, I guess it’s realistic.

One great aspect of this movie? The soundtrack is mainly Spanish guitar. Classy.

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