02nd Aug2017

‘Boone: The Bounty Hunter’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: John Hennigan, Osric Chau, Kevin Sorbo, Spencer Grammar, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Jonathan Lipnicki, Dominque Swain, Lorenzo Lamas, Richard Tyson, Jane Park Smith | Written by John Hennigan, Josh Burnell, Franco Movsesian, Jonathan Perkins | Directed by Robert Kirbyson

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Boone, a fame-seeking reality show Bounty Hunter (think a douchier version of TV’s Dog the Bounty Hunter) gets carried away in his role and tries to bring down a drug lord and his empire. But when his quest for accolades ends with a bounty on his own head, Boone learns that serving justice is a heck of a lot more dangerous than just ratings.

Apparently conceived by star John Hennigan some five years ago, Boone: The Bounty Hunter has been a labour of love for the wrestler and actor ever since, with Hennigan eventually funding the film himself – no doubt through the money he earned wresting for the likes of Lucha Underground (where he wrestles under the name Johnny Mundo). I mention Hennigan’s wrestling career as he brings a lot of the skills he utilises in the ring to the character of Boone, parkouring, flipping and fighting his way into his bounty’s line of fire.

Reminiscent of 90s action adventure TV shows like Renegade and L.A. Heat, Boone: The Bounty Hunter is less concerned with the intricacies of plot and mor about providing a fun-filled, action-packed thrill ride – and it does this is spades. Thankfully, like the aforementioned shows, the film is held together (even in it’s most outrageous moments) by its central core of characters – Boone and his TV show creating co-stars Denny (Chau) and Kat (Grammar), whose comradery and friendship brings the film the kind of empathy missing from some genre films. This particular trio, Hennigan, Chau and Grammar, have a real chemistry together – you can see that in the outtakes in the credits – it’s almost like they’ve been working on the fictional bounty hunting TV show for years and not just for this movie!

Unfortunately fourth-billed Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson’s appearance is – like a lot of the named stars in the movie – little more than an extended cameo. Hopefully, given how this film ends, we’ll see more of Jackson and his particular brand of arse-kicking in the sequel. Speaking of cameos, Boone: The Bounty Hunter is packed with appears from a LOT of familiar faces… Opening with a chase down of Kevin Sorbo (which, when you think about Hennigan’s DTV career, is The Asylum’s Hercules chasing down Univerals’s Hercules), Boone: The Bounty Hunter also features my favourite ex-Baywatch star Erika Eleniak, a woman whose image adorned my wall as a teen; and Heroes’ James Kyson as just two of Boone’s bailbondsman takedown’s. The rest of the cast is a who’s who of genre, and in particular DTV, cinema: Richard Tyson as the films major villain; Lorenzo Lamas as a bartender who [eventually] helps Boone in his quest; former child star Jonathan Lipnicki (who’s been carving out a decent DTV career of late) as the party-hard son of Tyson’s drug-dealing bad guy; Domnique Swain as Boone’s producer; and Corbin Bernsen as the DEA Agent who offers Boone the Mexican gig.

But whilst the appearances and cameos add a sense of fun to Boone: The Bounty Hunter, what is central to this film is the action. Well-staged and making VERY good use of star John Hennigan’s wrestling background, the film mixes fight styles in a way that is both new and refreshing (especially the way Hennigan flips and spins his way through fights in the way he’d normally flip off the top rope in a wrestling match) yet at the same time there’s a real familiarity to it – probably because all the different fighting styles reminded me of the mixed fighting styles seen in the likes of Bloodsport, Lady Bloodfight, Undisputed 3 and the most recent Kickboxer movie, Kickboxer: Vengeance. A movie which also happened to feature martial artist T.J. Storm, who here teams with Lateef Crowder to form the “Milli Vanilla” of martial arts movies (Boone’s words, not mine) the Cardoza Brothers – who, if it wasn’t for Rampage Jackson, would have seriously kicked Hennigan’s ass in a display of martial arts mastery that is THE action highlight of the film.

A throwback to the classic era of DTV genre films and a new vision of the future of direct-to-market action movies, Boone: The Bounty Hunter is hopefully both the start of a new franchise and the real birth of Hennigan as a leading [action] man.
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With thanks to Vision Films.

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