Shadowhunter

  • 1993
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Crime, Horror, Thriller

The villain of this Southwestern crime thriller gets under your skin psychologically. That's the startling premise of this action drama that pits a renegade American Indian's supernatural skills against a big city policeman's crime-detecting savvy. Taken off a high profile homicide case, Lieutenant John Kane (Scott Glenn) is demoted to a routine assignment:...read more

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The villain of this Southwestern crime thriller gets under your skin psychologically. That's the startling premise of this action drama that pits a renegade American Indian's supernatural skills against a big city policeman's crime-detecting savvy.

Taken off a high profile homicide case, Lieutenant John Kane (Scott Glenn) is demoted to a routine assignment: picking up a murderer caught by local policeman on an Indian reservation. What the native sons understand--and Kane does not--is that Two Bear (Benjamin Bratt) is a sort of Boogie Man

in war paint. Despite warnings, Kane is unprepared for Two Bear's knack for psyching him out. The bad medicine man weaves an intimidating spell that causes Kane to wreck his car and that initiates Two Bear's mind-control of Kane even as he escapes. After a beloved merchant couple is butchered by

the conscienceless Two Bear, Kane hops out of his hospital bed to join in the recapture mission, despite the misgivings of the Sheriff (Robert Beltran) and the recalcitrance of native guide Ray (Angela Alvarado), the tracker who originally captured Two Bear. Plagued by visions of the baleful

killer slaying his fellow cops, Kane nonetheless pooh-poohs the killer's powers as superstition. By the time Kane falls for Ray (whose father was slain by Two Bear), the urban crime fighter realizes there may be some truth to tribal legend about spirits who feed off the psychological frailties of

others. After knocking Kane down the mountainside, Two Bear captures Ray and hangs her by a fraying rope above a horde of rattlesnakes. Confronted by the physically injured and psychologically damaged Kane, Two Bear mocks his pursuer's self-doubts and viciously beats him up. With each assault, Two

Bear gains added strength. Although Kane manages to free Ray, her rifle jams, thus enabling Two Bear to push Kane off the edge of an escarpment. However, when Kane pulls Two Bear over the side, he jabs him in the eye with a rock. After Two Bear falls to his deserved death, Ray pulls her battered

rescuer to safety.

Benefitting from breathtakingly scenic locales and a nifty premise, SHADOWHUNTER gets off to a promising start. Where it falters is in talking about, rather than expressing through characterization, the full extent of the villain's possession of the frazzled hero. Although the rugged action

scenes generate a modicum of suspense, the film keeps digressing into Indian folklore. To propel this thriller, we only need know the basics of Native American folklore. To continually stop the action cold in order to speculate on how Two Bear spreads his soul-sickness to his prey is to waste

footage better devoted to showing how the hero manages to reawaken his faltering courage. Because Glenn is such a closed-mouthed kind of actor, he lacks the skill to suggest subtle personality changes; we tend to see his decline as one big drop because Glenn can't vary the effect of the

humiliations visited upon him. Though an appealing leading man, Glenn can't bring this complex character to life, so our attention shifts totally to the witchcraft-wielding killer, an ethnic "savage" version of a traditional movie serial killer. SHADOWHUNTER succeeds in creating a study in pure

evil, but fails to fully integrate Indian mythology into the unfolding of its narrative and in not developing a heroic figure whose weaknesses compel us. (Nudity, profanity, extensive violence.)

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  • Released: 1993
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: The villain of this Southwestern crime thriller gets under your skin psychologically. That's the startling premise of this action drama that pits a renegade American Indian's supernatural skills against a big city policeman's crime-detecting savvy. Take… (more)

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