Dead or alive
United States: 1986
Original title: Wanted – Dead or Alive
Directed by: Gary Sherman
Screenplay: Michael Patrick Goodman, Gary Sherman, Brian Taggert
Actors: Rutger Hauer, Gene Simmons, Robert Guillaume
Publisher: Carlotta Films
Genre: Action, Thriller
Cinema release date: January 14, 1987
DVD/BR release date: August 23, 2022
Nick Randall is a former CIA agent turned bounty hunter. Malak Al Rahim is an international terrorist who plans to turn Los Angeles into a bloody battlefield. But when the CIA uses Randall as bait to ensnare the madman, the hunter becomes the prey…
The name of Gary Sherman is not unknown to moviegoers and other peloche guzzlers of the 70s and 80s: especially renowned for being the scriptwriter / director of the Subway of Death in 1972 and the formidable Reincarnations in 1981, he would also be noticed by signing the thriller Vice Squad in 1982, then with Dead or alive in 1986 and Poltergeist 3 in 1988. After the experience Poltergeist 3, he would turn on the other hand almost exclusively to television, and would therefore leave our radar screens somewhat. However, thanks to the joint efforts of several French publishers, we are now gradually rediscovering his films from the 80s; this month is Charlotte Films which allows us to rediscover Dead or alivea little badass action film carried by the hypnotic personality of Rutger Hauer.
In this big hit from the VHS era, we will follow the wanderings of Nick Randall (Rutger Hauer), a Vietnam veteran turned bounty hunter, practicing his profession in intensive ass-kicking mode, smashing the face of various thugs while remaining still very cool. Of course, the character embodied by Rutger Hauer in Dead or alive is clearly ambivalent – especially during the film’s last act, when the plot takes a turn for the worse. revenge movie – and will repeatedly show that he is not friend-friends with cops and law enforcement in general. However, it should be noted that Gary Sherman’s film is the first American film to impose the Dutch actor as the “good guy” in history. A first for the actor, who had so far interpreted the villainous terrorist of the night hawks (Bruce Malmuth, 1981), the murky replicant of blade runner (Ridley Scott, 1982), the sadistic brigand of Flesh and Blood (Paul Verhoeven, 1985) or the psychopathic hitchhiker of TheHitcher (Robert Harmon, 1986).
Dead or alive therefore allowed Rutger Hauer to become a good guy from the B series, and not the least, since the plot will reveal to us that he is the great-grandson of Josh Randall, hero of the series In the name of the law (1958-1961) – a fun way to poke fun at the fact that the film’s original title, Wanted: Dead or Alive, is the same as the TV series that launched the career of Steve McQueen. In the film, our bounty hunter is therefore contacted by a government agent (Robert Guillaume) who offers him $250,000 to find and arrest a terrorist from the Middle East named Malak Al Rahim, and played by the singer, songwriter and Israeli-American guitarist Gene Simmons, founding member of the hard rock band Kiss. The fact of seeing him evolve on the screen without make-up is a curiosity which also turns out to be an attraction for Dead or alivein the sense that the exuberant Gene Simmons did not shoot a lot of films during his career: we remember having seen him, also as a villain, opposite Tom Selleck in Runaway, the escapee from the future (Michael Crichton, 1984), then alongside Robert Englund in the completely barred Stargrove and Danja, Executive Agents (Gil Bettman, 1986).
Telling himself that with the reward money he could fix his dream boat and go to the end of the world with his new girlfriend (Mel Harris), Randall accepts, but will soon end up losing everyone he loves. : his best friend, Detective Danny Quintz (William Russ), and, of course, his girlfriend. So many events that will make Randall’s quest personal, and that will push this solitary and taciturn character to play it vigilant, in Bronson 80’s mode, but younger and more dashing. Fact, Dead or alive turns out to be clearly placed under the sign of testosterone and macho heroism. In the end, the story really functions as a “playground” to stage a duel of men, placed under the sign of these delicious excesses typical of the time and the genre. Rutger Hauer and Gene Simmons have a great time besides, willingly adding in the wicked, in the cruelty, even in the sordid. A good time, for a video club hit that we had somewhat forgotten today, to the point of sometimes confusing it with blind revenge (Phillip Noyce, 1989), another nice little action movie starring Rutger Hauer.
The years pass, and the “Midnight Collection” of Charlotte Films grows a little more every year. As you know, the strong idea of this collection is therefore to rediscover a handful of cult films from the 70s/80s that most of us had discovered through video clubs – the visuals of DVD / Blu- ray of the collection also take up the spirit of vintage VHS covers. Carlotta therefore invites us to rediscover Dead or alive in a Blu-ray offered in the format and encoded in 1080p. The image is stable, the copy satisfactory, even if spots and other white dots remain. The solid grain of the film has been preserved, with a small surplus on the night sequences or in low light. On the sound side, the VF is offered in DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0with the period dubbing, while the VO benefits from a mix DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 a lighter and more balanced coat.
In the supplements section, Dead or alive is simply accompanied by trailer.