We’re not hunting him, he’s hunting us!
If Rambo: First Blood Part II mated with The Most Dangerous Game and was then lobotomized, the result would be Deadly Prey, a ludicrous, ham-fisted 80s action flick that’s as entertaining as it is inept.
In a forest somewhere just outside of Los Angeles, a large group of mercenaries are training under the tutelage of Vietnam vet Colonel Hogan to “be the best.” Of course, this being peacetime, as a training exercise the mercs (each interchangeable, each without a lick of muscle tone) naturally kidnap average joes off the street and chase them through the forests of L.A. before killing them. When the last portly “runner” proves little challenge, Hogan orders them to get someone nasty this time. Big Mistake (best read in your finest Stallonesque growl)!
Enter Mike Danton, your average former military killing machine now living a peaceful, domesticated life out in the ‘burbs. Danton, who is played by Ted Prior and looks a bit like wrestler Terry “The Red Rooster” Taylor, is taking out the trash in a pair of exceedingly short shorts when the mercenaries pull up and abduct him to be their next runner, unaware that they’re picking up deadly prey. Ha!
The mercenaries strip the jacked Danton down to just his shorts but also see fit to oil him up before they turn him lose. Almost immediately Mike springs into action, taking out the mercenaries like a one man army corp. He grabs one unfortunate recruit and this awesome exchange follows:
Danton: How long has this been going on?
Recruit: I don’t know! I just joined today!
Danton: BAD TIMING!
Meanwhile, Danton’s wife, who looks and acts like a wide-eyed fourth-grader, calls her retired policeman father for assistance in finding her husband. Pops, played by Hollywood journeyman Cameron Mitchell, goes off on a one-man crusade to find his son-in-law. Why he didn’t call any of his cop buddies for backup remains a mystery, but to his credit, the old guy fights pretty well for someone who looks like he should be playing shuffleboard in Del Boca Vista with Frank Costanza.
Upon seeing the corpses of his mercenaries, Hogan – a poor man’s Martin Kove if there ever was one – exclaims “I know his style, it’s my style…Know him, I TRAINED him!”Danton then reaches out of the bush, grabs Hogan, turns him around and growls:
You trained me to be the best. Well, I still am…I STILL AM!!!!
Later, Danton, who has pretty much been fighting with his bare hands and picked-up weapons of his fallen foes, finds a weapon’s cache and shit gets super serious and super ridiculous. Danton levels up huge. He emerges armed to the gills and looking like someone dressed for Halloween as a thrift-store Rambo. He booby-traps the entire forest to take out each remaining mercenary, save the John Travolta-looking one whom he saved in ‘Nam and who now is Danton’s ally.
At this point, many questions arise. For instance, why when Danton throws one knife, two people fall down and die? Was there some sort of ricochet? And just how does a machine gun act like a bazooka, causing a helicopter to explode as if a nuclear missile hit it? Furthermore, we know that Danton is good but is he from Krypton? The man has grenades thrown at him and is shot point black and emerges literally without a scratch! And why is that when a man shoots a machine gun in an action film, he makes the same face Eddie Van Halen does when ripping out a guitar solo?
It’s impossible not to love Deadly Prey. The film is uber-goofy and ridiculous but the entertainment factor is off the charts. Compounding the lunacy in a film that features so much carnage is the complete lack of plasma. Shit, they saved big-time on Danton’s wardrobe budget: Couldn’t they have at least afforded a squib or two?
By the time Danton bludgeons one of the few remaining mercenaries to death with the merc’s own severed arm, you too will be bellowing “DANTON!!!!!!!”
So much fun!
**** (out of five)