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Leaving the Multiplex Behind

Movie Review: HUNTED BY NIGHT (2012)

Posted by Jonathan Sullivan on January 31, 2012

Starring: Jencarlos Canela, Juan C. Bofill, Al Galvez, Seth Gordon, Sonya Smith

Written and Directed by: Juan C. Bofill

Distributed by: MTI Home Video

Buy Hunted by Night on DVD

Never steal bags of cocaine that fall from the sky. No good can come of it. Unless, you know, you’re a coke head.

Hunted by Night stars Jencarlos Canela as Brandon, a family man of high moral fiber (and many abs) who heads out into the Florida Everglades for the weekend to hunt along with his friends Jose (Al Galvez) and Peter (Seth Gordon). What was supposed to be a simple hunting trip becomes complicated when Jose stumbles onto a large shipment of cocaine and instead of leaving it alone like any sane person would, he ropes Peter into helping him smuggle it back to Miami with the intent to sell behind Brandon’s back. You would think stealing large amounts of drugs would be without consequence, but soon enough the cartel the shipment was meant for shows up on the scene to retrieve their goods only to find out most of it is gone. This angers their leader Paco (Juan C. Bofill, pulling triple duty on this film as writer/director/actor) and once they discover that Brandon, Jose, and Peter have the drugs he and his cartel begin to chase after them. And so begins the deadly game of cat and mouse that one would expect in a situation like this.

Being an action movie, it’s easy to expect that the characters of Hunted by Night would be paper thin but I’m here to tell you that your instincts are…absolutely right. Simple traits for each person are given with little to no complexity among all of them; Peter is your dim bulb expendable one, Jose is your “act irrationally because the plot needs it” one, Paco’s the “I wear black because I’m eeeeevil” one, and Brandon is your typical action movie badass who not only is perfect with a bow and arrow but also can become an excellent fighter when the situation calls for it (and it does). With nothing to really work with, the acting suffers with dialogue being delivered in an unnatural shotgun pace at times, like they needed to finish the scene quickly before they ran out of film. The only two real stand-outs are Canela, who plays the generic role rather well and could have a future in the movie business should he get bored guesting on Pitbull tracks (which he should!) and Sonya Smith who plays Paco’s second in command Tania and should have been the actual main villain since she was far more badass and intimidating than Paco.

But hey, paper thin characters aren’t a big deal right? This is an action movie and you want action. Luckily, Hunted by Night has this in spades both hand to hand and weapon-oriented. Writer/director Bofill has cut his teeth in the movie industry doing stunt work for Hollywood so it’s no surprise that the action sequences are staged far better than most direct to DVD movies. But at the same time you can tell they’re staged, the hand to hand combat in particular; it moves like a ballet which kills the realism but is still fun to watch. It definitely doesn’t slouch in this department by any stretch of the imagination.

Unfortunately Hunted by Night does slouch enough in other areas to drag the movie down despite some fun action set pieces. Production value is pretty low; there isn’t a lot of CGI or anything, but when there’s a fight scene going on in the rain despite the fact it’s sunny outside you can’t help but zero in on it. It becomes even more glaring when about two minutes later, everyone is driving around in the blazing sun in completely dry clothes. There’s also a later scene that was obviously shot in the daylight but tinted to make it seem like it was shot at night, giving it a blue hue that looks out of place edited into scenes that were actually shot at night. These shoddy production moments got really distracting.

The overuse of slow motion, a sad staple in newer action movies, also gets a bit distracting because unlike other movies of the genre Hunted by Night uses it for everything. I mean everything, from the fights themselves to just characters simply walking. There’s even a moment where Brandon yells “JOSE!” in slow motion, which is unintentionally hilarious but supremely out of place in a movie that is supposed to be deadly serious. Mundane situations, like talking on the phone or looking for missing cocaine, are dragged out to obscene lengths in order to I guess pad out the story; Jose literally calls THREE different people in a scene and we hear his entire conversation with each one (it also leads into a plot point that gets abandoned but I digress).

Hunted by Night has some cool fight scenes and a good performance from Canela, but the good is dragged down by overly long scenes, inane dialogue and acting, superfluous plot points (something to do with guardian angels and religion), and a low production value that results in continuity issues and scenes that feel out of place or awkward. It’s an okay effort from a first time writer/director, but Hunted by Night isn’t necessarily required viewing even if you are an action movie aficionado.

Grade: C-

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2 Responses to “Movie Review: HUNTED BY NIGHT (2012)”

  1. mh said

    I am a terminal movie watcher, now that my life has been severely shortened by this insult to the film industry.

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