Review: Jean-Paul Belmondo is Magnetic in 'The Hunter Will Get You'

by Frank J. Avella

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday September 28, 2021

French star Jean-Paul Belmondo was one of those rarities: A damn good actor who was also an action star. He would ping pong from genre to genre with ease. I honestly don't think we had, or have, an equivalent here in the U.S.

In 1976, still sexy as hell, he re-teamed with director Philippe Labro ("The Inheritor") for a crime thriller, "The Hunter Will Get You" ("L'alpagueur"), where he plays the titular character, an aloof mercenary who, in Bond fashion, can accomplish the impossible—and do it faster and better than the authorities. After breaking up a prostitution ring, he is asked to track down a ruthless bank robber, "The Hawk" (Bruno Cremer), who kills all his witnesses, save for a young thug, Costa (Patrick Fierry), who managed to get away. Belmondo teams up with this rather bumbling dude to find The Hawk.

Labro penned the script with Jacques Lanzmann, and you can feel the push-me-pull-you James Bond/"French Connection" elements, but it all weaves together for a rather splendid, if brutal, crime-drama mixed with well-placed comedic moments. It helps to have the unshakably cool Belmondo dashing through the film with an intense confidence, so we are always certain he will succeed. Fierry is also a terrific boon as his sometimes silly, but well-intentioned, sidekick. This was his first major role. And Cremer is perfectly creepy.

A fascinating homoerotic angle is introduced with The Hawk, since the accomplices he selects are all hot young guys. He's obviously interested in them (as a flashback scene with Costa makes clear), but unfortunately the film isn't daring enough to actually go there (it was 1976).

The Kino Lorber Blu ray retains the fabulous gritty look of the film (shot by Jean Penzer), and the audio is particularly superb with Michel Colombier's terrific score a highlight.

Special Features include an informative audio commentary by film historians Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell, and Nathaniel Thompson, as well as the trailer. But the best extra is a 26-minute interview with director Labro from December 2000, where he discusses all aspects of the film, including the writing process (he mentions his homage to both Bond and Peckinpah's "The Getaway"), the shooting of the film, and his relationship with Belmondo and how unpampered the actor was. He also blames himself for the film not doing better at the box office.

Belmondo was a one-of-a-kind cinema star, and "The Hunter Will Get You" provides a terrific example of his screen magnetism.

Blu-ray Extras Include:

  • New Audio Commentary by Film Historians Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson
  • Interview with Writer/Director Philippe Labro
  • Theatrical Trailer

    "The Hunter Will Get You" (a.k.a. "L'alpagueur") will be available on Blu-ray September 28.

    Frank J. Avella is a film and theatre journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He also contributes to Awards Daily and is the GALECA East Coast Rep. Frank is a recipient of a 2019 International Writers Retreat Residency at Arte Studio Ginestrelle (Assisi, Italy), a 2018 Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, a 2016 Helene Wurlitzer Residency Grant and a 2015 NJ State Arts Council Fellowship Award. He is an award-winning screenwriter and playwright (CONSENT, LURED, SCREW THE COW, FIG JAM, VATICAN FALLS) and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild.