Released in August of 1980, The Hunter is largely remembered because star Steve McQueen died just three months later, as a result of cancer surgery. McQueen plays a modern day, down and out bounty hunter Ralph “Papa” Thorson (whose real story. Served as the basis of the film), forced to take whatever jobs he can to make ends meet. Born a century to late, he’s not a fan of new technology. He’s a very bad driver, a fact that is used for comic effect throughout the film.

Directed by television veteran Buzz Kulik (though McQueen reportedly ghost directed much of the film) there’s no real flow to the film. episodic in nature (not surprising, given director Buzz Kulik’s vast television experience), The Hunter thinly ties a series of Thorson’s cases together. Thorson collars a bail-jumper who is also an electronics whiz (LeVar Burton); hunts down a lunatic pair of brothers; confronts a double-crossing cop about to take the fall; gets stuck on top of a fast-moving elevated train in Chicago while hunting another crook. Personally, he’s trying to come to terms with impending fatherhood as his girlfriend, Dotty (Kathryn Harrold) nears her due date. If that’s not stressful enough, one of the men Papa brought in, would like to see him and his girlfriend dead. All of this would have made for a decent 1980’s television series

Saddled with a mediocre script, maintains that cool swagger that made him a legend. Granted, he looks tired, likely a sign of the cancer that would soon kill him. There are a few decent action sequences and a supporting cast that includes Ben Johnson, Eli Wallach, and Richard Venture help to elevate what otherwise would have been an unwatchable film.

Presented in a reframed 1.78:1 aspect ratio, this release is sourced from a 2022 4K Scan of the Original Camera Negative. The results are a very good transfer. While a bit soft in places, delineation and clarity are good throughout. Color balance is good, if not as vibrant as one might expect. Blacks are deep and inky. In a couple of the darker scenes, crush is momentarily evident. Still, this is a pleasing transfer of an older film.

The English LPCM 2.0. audio track is solid. Center focused, dialogue is clean, clear and concise throughout. Effects and environmental sounds are well balanced. There are no technical issues.

English SDH subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • NEW! Audio Commentary by Film Historians Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • 2 TV Spots
  • VHS Trailer