Trish Stratus sizzles in “Bounty Hunters”

 Former WWE wrestler and seven-time Women’s Champion Trish Stratus makes her feature film debut in Bounty Hunters, the official selection of the Actionfest film festival (2011).  The low-budget Canadian film makes its worldwide debut this month (official release date February 28, 2012), showcasing and boasting an all Canadian cast and crew.  Though it would likely never be in contention for major awards or critical acclaim, Bounty Hunters exists to showcase its strikingly beautiful leading lady Trish Stratus and its intense, kick-ass and awesome action sequences.

Beginning with a nicely stylized voice-over introduction (that could honestly open a Zack Snyder movie), the film tells the story of three down on their luck bounty hunters, Jules (Trish Stratus), Ridley (Frank Zupancic), and Chase (Boomer Phillips).  The group rounds up their first criminal, who promises he can make it worth their while if they release him.  After considering his proposition, they decide to take on a bounty that could net them $100,000.  But mob boss Hal (Joe Rafla) wants their target for himself and increases the reward to $1 million.  Their luck has seemingly changed, but this is the mob and nothing is a simple transaction.

Unfortunately, but expectedly, there are shortcomings to this story, including a severe lack of character development (sorry team, five seconds of exposition for each of your three leading characters isn’t enough) and some acting ability, or inability, rather.  The profanity-laden script is disjointed and is full of gaping holes and uncertain and unbelievable moments.  None of the characters receive full development either, but they’re endearing in each of their own ways, which is why the audience will give a damn, especially about Chase, the most developed character of them all.  Worst of all though is the Hal (mob boss) character.  Actor Joe Rafla has a less than intimidating presence, which could have been partially remedied with some classic, low-angle, villainous shots?  This guy just isn’t a believable mob boss – part of which is his problem, with his on-again-off-again, poor Italian accent and part of this is the fault of the writers for the horrendous dialogue he’s given.

Jules (Stratus) vs. Ruby (Lui) in a final, exciting confrontation.

 But never fear, Bounty Hunters isn’t terrible, it’s got many comedic and entertaining moments and Trish Stratus is quite great in her role as Jules (as she should be since it’s been confirmed that the role was fashioned with her in mind), she certainly is a charismatic performer.  Despite Stratus’ charisma though, this film would have soared higher had it been purely a comedy rather than a dramatic action film with comedic moments.  The amount of clichés and stereotypes on display are quite humorous, making it, at the very least, an entertaining and enjoyable experience.  For example, following an amazingly awkward and funny scene at a diner, there’s a fight sequence in a bathroom after Ruby’s (Andrea James Lui) introduced.  She is sent to retrieve car keys and a battle ensues with Chase (Phillips), to which he ultimately replies, “What the f—!? Everybody knows Asian’s can’t drive!”  It’s these little moments of brilliance partnered with some witty and sharp dialogue, an awesome and fitting score, and amazing action sequences that create the golden lining for this film.  A golden lining that’s sure to have it added to several guilty pleasure lists (you know, movies such as The Hot Chick or The Mummy).

Speaking of action, in various interviews promoting Bounty Hunters, the film’s star (Stratus) touted the cast completed all their own stunts and when you see the action you’ll agree it’s worth two thumbs up, especially the fight scene in the back of the ambulance!  It’s interesting to think how much better the film could have been with a clearer focus, stronger script and perhaps a more sizable budget.  But you know what?  Forget-about-it, who doesn’t love a hot blonde in high heels dominating the world around her and leaving a body count behind?  Trish Stratus sizzles in this film from start to finish and that at least makes this worth a view.  Bounty Hunters runs approximately 80 minutes and is rated R for language, violence, some sexuality and nudity.

Grade:  B-


P.S. – Keep an eye on your company, you wouldn’t want it to turn into a junior hockey game would you?   (It’s a hilarious reference you’ll understand after you see this).

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