In Vietnam he was the best... HE STILL IS!
"We don't play games here. When we train, it's for real."
It's pretty hard to add to this awesome movie more than what the DTV Connoisseur or Comeuppance Reviews have. This is solid gold bad-action entertainment, and it's criminal that there hasn't been a DVD release for it yet. When you think of all the sub-par action movies that have received DVD treatment but solid gold such as Deadly Prey remains only available on decades old VHS tapes and the thriving bootleg DVD scene... well, it's just sad.
Basically you are getting a cheap version of Hard Target and Surviving the Game (though both of those movies were made later). A team of mercenaries have stepped up their training under the leadership of Col. John Hogan (David Campbell) to now include hunting man for sport. While putting the bins out in his fashionable denim shorts and sloppy joe ensemble, Mike Danton (Ted Prior) gets hauled off the street by some guys in a van and knocked out. When he comes to he is quickly forced to run as the prey in a deadly game of hunt to kill, with the team of aforementioned mercenaries chasing him down. However what they don't realise is that Danton was originally trained by the Colonel! The hunted has become the hunter, and all that!
"Danton? Man I haven't seen you since the time you took the bullet trying to save my life."
There is just so much to love in the movie. The hilarious denim shorts (and nothing else) outfit of Ted Prior. The bad, bad acting from everyone involved (especially Danton's girlfriend; her scene dictating a number plate to her father, Cameron Mitchell, is hysterical). The over-the-top yet badly performed violence, complete with stock footage explosions. The outfit that the one female member of the mercenaries wears. The glorious power rock guitar solos and electric drums that play throughout. Ted's mullet. Ted's one liners ("Don't kill me I just joined today!", "BAD TIMING.") The fact that the film features somebody called Colonel Hogan! It's pure gold from start to finish. Hell this is better than gold, this is platinum. This is depleted uranium sold on the black market to smugglers wearing fur coats on their own personal yachts. It's that good.
Danton spends the majority of the movie setting Rambo style traps for his pursuers or punching their equally mulleted arses to the ground. They are all great traps as well, such as jumping out of a lake and pulling the bad guy in with him, or jumping out of concealed leaves and stabbing him in the stomach. The kills are the funniest things I've ever seen. Somehow Danton manages to skewer a guy through the chest with a twig he found on the ground. That's not really that surprising once you've seen Ted's muscles. People make Chuck Norris jokes about how his beard conceals another fist. Really they should joke about Ted Prior's mullet having bigger muscles than on his arms. I also love the fact that after being in the jungle for not even one night Danton resorts to catching and eating rats. Brilliant.
"How does a man go from being the highest decorated officer in the armed forces, to becoming some GOD DAMNED BLOOD SUCKING MERCENARY?!"
When the sides have turned and his girlfriend is taken hostage, Danton goes 'one man force' on the military base and blows up helicopters with missile launchers, and runs from tanks in his stone washed jeans shorts. But none of this compares to the montage scene of preparing to launch his final assault; Danton packs his bag with enough sticks of bright red dynamite to light the whole place up for days.
David Campbell is great as Colonel Hogan. He's sidelined for most of the film but after all the mercenaries have been dispatched by Danton, we finally get the one on one that we've been hoping for. Hogan and Danton's pow-wow at the half way point ("Join me, damnit!") features some beautiful dialogue as well. Cameron Mitchel doesn't have much to do in the film but when he does show up he's brilliant, shooting some guy point blank in the face! William Zipp turns up as a mercenary who used to be buddies with Danton back during the war and eventually switches sides, joining Danton in taking out the military camp.
Now the whole movie is fantastic but if I had to pick one scene from a movie to watch on repeat for the rest of my life, it would be the death of Hogan's right hand man Lt. Thornton (Fritz Matthews). SPOILER. After executing Danton's girlfriend at point blank, Danton enraged with fury and holding a machete takes a run at Thornton - who fires four direct shots at Danton and misses - and cuts off his freaking arm. Thornton looks at the stump for what seems like eternity and then finally screams, before - wait for it - Danton beats Thornton to death with the wet end. This is the highlight of cinema. Forget your Rosebud's - this is why we make movies, right here.
"Take off your shirt before I cut you out from under it!"
Since the age of the Internet, Deadly Prey has become notorious for being a brilliant slice of bad action cinema. In fact it is so notorious you may be put off by it without seeing it. Needless to say however, this is absolutely, positively mandatory viewing for all readers of this blog, and for all fans of bad action. Five stars, two thumbs up, however you want to rate Deadly Prey is up to you - just make it happen. I could watch this film on repeat and never get bored with it. I'm living in hope that Deadly Prey receives a legitimate DVD release in the near future - after all, the David and Ted Prior horror film Sledgehammer recently got released. Maybe if everybody sent an email to Intervision we could get this ball rolling.
Same as all other AIP films released on VHS; soft, under-saturated picture and dubious audio. Runtime approx. 90 minutes.
Haven't found the VHS itself so I had to do with a bootleg on DVDR like most people. Hopefully someday soon it will get a proper DVD release.
Montage of the best scenes (significant spoilers):