Release Date(s)1976 (September 28, 2021)
Studio(s)Cerito Films (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: B
After director Philippe Labro’s film Le hasard et la violence didn’t find much of an audience, he returned to the American-style detective genre with which he had previously found success. More importantly, he returned to Jean-Paul Belmondo, the star of his earlier film The Inheritor, and the result was The Hunter Will Get You (aka L'alpagueur), a film which played to both of their strengths. L'Alpagueur (Belmondo) is a freelance fixer who works for the government off the books so that he can achieve his goals by any means necessary. Under the alias Roger Pilard, he ends up being put on the trail of L'Epervier (Bruno Cremer), a deadly robber who leaves no traces because he kills any and all witnesses to his crimes. But even a man as meticulous as L'Epervier is at risk when his hunter will go to any lengths to track him down.
Labro co-wrote the screenplay with Jacques Lanzmann, and it happily wears its American influences on its sleeve. The film is pure euro-thriller, but one which falls squarely into the post-French Connection world, where the American elements freely intermix with the European ones. The action is sparing but unusually brutal, with Cremer’s natural intensity working perfectly to make L'Epervier truly frightening. There’s a bit less stunt work from Belmondo than was usual for this period of his career, but that’s understandable since he was suffering from severe back pain while shooting the film. (Watch his face closely while he is running to chase down the truck in which he has been hiding—he’s clearly uncomfortable.)
The Hunter Will Get You closes with a slightly bastardized quote from Oscar Wilde: “No man is rich enough to buy back his past.” The actual quote comes from An Ideal Husband, and reads: “Even you are not rich enough, Sir Robert, to buy back your past. No man is.” But the sentiment is the same, and it applies equally to the hunter and the hunted in the film. All the money earned by L'Alpagueur or stolen by L'Epervier cannot change who they are or what they have done to get it. Ultimately, they’re two sides of the same coin, so the finale gives them an appropriate showdown straight out of a Sergio Leone Western. Good, bad, or ugly, they both come from the same ancient race.
Cinematographer Jean Penzer shot The Hunter Will Get You in 35 mm using Panavision cameras and lenses, framed at 1.66:1 for its theatrical release. StudioCanal supplied the master to Kino Lorber for this Blu-ray version, and while there isn’t any specific information about the elements that they used, it’s a solid transfer. The opening titles display the expected softness from the optical work, but there’s a decent amount of detail in the rest of the film, with infrequent signs of damage, and very light grain throughout. Penzer’s color scheme is muted by design, so the timing here is appropriately muted as well. The contrast and black levels are good, though there’s a bit of banding around some of the light sources such as the streetlights in the backgrounds of night shots.
Audio is offered in French 2.0 Mono DTS-HD Master Audio with removable English subtitles. The entire soundtrack is driven by Michel Colombier’s classic score, and it’s served well here even in mono. The rest of the sound effects and dialogue are well-balanced and clear.
Extras include the following:
- Audio Commentary with Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell, and Nathaniel Thompson
- Interview with Philippe Labro (Upscaled HD – 26:40)
- Trailer (SD – 2:28)
- Le doulos Trailer (HD – 2:25)
- Le magnifique Trailer (SD – 2:26)
- Le professionnel Trailer (SD – 2:12)
- The Outsider Trailer (HD – 2:43)
Film historians Berger, Mitchell, and Thompson happily admit that they’re in comfortable territory dealing with another Belmondo film, which Thompson jokes must be at least their 900th as a group. They do cover Belmondo’s career at length, examining how The Hunter Will Get You fits into his filmography. They also analyze Belmondo’s star appeal, and discuss how he worked his way into being his own producer. They also spend time looking at Bruno Cremer’s career, and talk about the disturbing subtext to his character in the film. They cover Philippe Labro as well, noting his obsession with American culture and American genre films. Even Colombier’s score gets some love from the trio, noting that it sounds a bit like James Horner’s later action scores such as 48 Hours. This particular track is a bit less focused than others that they’ve done, but it’s still filled with plenty of fascinating information about the film.
The interview with Labro was recorded in December of 2000, and he covers the entire production: writing the script, showing it to Belmondo, hiring other actors like Cremer, and shooting the action scenes. He also points out his deliberate nods to director Jean-Pierre Melville. He’s definitely self-deprecating when discussing his own work, and notes that while The Hunter Will Get You was more successful than his previous film, he still wasn’t completely satisfied with some of its rhythms.
Watching The Hunter Will Get You the day that the news broke about Belmondo’s passing was a truly bittersweet experience. He’s one of the few actors in the history of cinema who effectively functioned as his own brand. He did a wide variety of films throughout his career, from popular entertainment to arthouse classics, but he’s always unmistakably Belmondo. There will never again be anyone else quite like him, but at least his films continue to be released on home video, and hopefully they will find new fans in the process.
- Stephen Bjork
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