Bounty Hunters (1996) from Tuna

Bounty Hunters (1996) and Bounty Hunters 2: Hardball (1997)

After reading Scoop's review of Hardball, I decided I might as well get these two, which I had already purchased, out of the way. I was really dreading it from what he said, and was sure I would be disappointed with Bounty Hunters. During the opening credits, Michael Dudikoff as bounty hunter Jersey Bellini is getting into his work gear at the back of his van. He selects a sawed off shotgun with a pistol grip, an Italian stogie and a pair of binoculars from there foam storage spots, then dumps a box of rifle cartridges into his pocket. At this point, I had my confirmation that I was watching a turkey. Then something happened. I began to like the characters, I became interested in the story, and I loved the over-the-top action.
This had to be a pilot, as they go way out of their way to develop characters that are also found in Hardball. Jersey's on again/off again love interest, Lisa Howard, AKA B B or Ball Buster is also an expert bounty hunter working for the same bail bondsman as Jersey. Whereas Jersey is broke, gentle talking, and focused on bringing in the wanted men, BB is tougher talking and acting, but cares more about what happens to people. The Bail Bondsman is all about money, but obviously has a certain  fondness for both of them. A female police sergeant has to pretend to be opposed to the way the two are constantly blowing away or beating up bad guys, but is actually on their side. 


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 Jersey is hungry, and asks his boss for another assignment. He is sent to give BB help she absolutely doesn't want. BB stakes out a chop shop figuring that the car thief they are to bring in will show up to sell a stolen car. Jersey stakes out BB. The car thief does show up in a Rolls that he didn't realize belonged to a Mafia bigwig. Jersey grabs him, but BB forces him to pull over. They argue about who gets the money, and the car thief escapes. When they return to the chop shop, they discover a hooker in the trunk of the Rolls. Seems she witnessed the Mafia boss committing a murder, and was being brought in to be fitted for concrete sneakers when the thief grabbed the car.

Jersey and BB become targets. The mob also kidnaps a teenage black kid who lives next door to Jersey and has become a friend. The kid was great, but didn't make it into Hardball. Scoop mentioned that Hardball didn't take itself seriously for one moment, and that the exposure was gratuitous. The same was true in Bounty Hunters, but that didn't bother me. The hooker, Erin Fitzgerald, is seen topless in a flashback, and another hooker turned porn star, Shona Baxter, also shows her breasts. It didn't make me think, but it did entertain me. It is rough and tumble fun with quirky but invincible heroes. I give it a solid C.

After enjoying Bounty Hunters, I was prepared to give Hardball a chance. Had I not watched Bounty Hunters first, much of Hardball would not have made much sense. That was not, however, the only problem with this sequel. There were many dead spots, and the action stuff was very much like what I had just watched in Bounty Hunters. We even had exactly two women showing their breasts. April Telek is seen through binoculars in a window, and then later modeling lingerie in the shop she works in. Jane Ferguson plays a masseuse seen through a two way mirror.

It is easy to see why nobody picked this up as a series. The premise didn't allow enough variety of plot to sustain even a single season. In fact, it wore pretty thin by the end of the sequel, Hardball. It is, for me, a shame, as I liked several of the characters. I give Hardball a C-. 

DVD info from Amazon.

bare bones

Scoop's comment in yellow: 

I haven't seen the first one, but I found the same things to like in Hardball. The action scenes were amusing and I liked the bickering between BB and Jersey. They seemed like familiar characters. I thought the movie was poor, but that the characters might be worth a series or something. 

I suppose the filmmakers hoped to get a cable series, because these films sure play out like TV shows with a few extra boobs thrown in.

The Critics Vote

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The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.0
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C.

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