After years of apprenticeship on the stage and in television, Robert Redford finally made his feature-film debut in this odd, low-budget war film. He plays the new man, a replacement sent to a front-line platoon under Aidman's command in Korea. Under the tutelage of the other men, many
of them WW II veterans, Redford quickly loses his illusions about war and heroism. He also meets Saxon, a private who goes on solitary nocturnal patrols with his face blackened, stalking and killing North Koreans in the darkness. The other men keep their distance from Saxon, and Aidman, who finds
these prowlings a useful source of information, leaves him alone. Saxon's only companion is an 8-year-old Korean orphan, Matsuda. Worried about Saxon's influence on the boy, Redford tries to befriend the soldier, but Saxon threatens to kill him if he doesn't keep away. One night Redford spots
Saxon after Saxon has killed another unwary Korean. In the light of a flare he sees Saxon by the body first crouching as if in meditation, then dancing around it. Now it is clear that Saxon is insane. A cease-fire is declared, and the platoon celebrates that night. Saxon, though, can't stop
killing so easily and goes off again, taking Matsuda with him. Redford, Aidman, and sergeant Pollack go out after him and find the pair in a bombed-out bunker. Completely unhinged, Saxon attacks the three with his stiletto and gets killed by Aidman. Matsuda puts his hands over his ears and runs
off into no-man's land.
One of the few films to deal with the uncomfortable subject of homicidal psychopaths in war (NIGHT OF THE GENERALS, 1966, is another), WAR HUNT has intelligence and production values that belie its $250,000 budget and 15-day shooting schedule. The film, besides being rather successful financially,
also proved a major breeding ground for new talent. Francis Ford Coppola helped drive the Army trucks. Noel Black, who went on to direct PRETTY POISON (1968), helped with the lights. Sydney Pollack soon abandoned his acting career, and thanks to the friendship he formed with Redford during this
shoot, the two would work together many times on films such as JEREMIAH JOHNSON (1972), THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR (1976), THE ELECTRIC HORSEMAN (1979), and OUT OF AFRICA (1985).
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- Rating: NR
- Review: After years of apprenticeship on the stage and in television, Robert Redford finally made his feature-film debut in this odd, low-budget war film. He plays the new man, a replacement sent to a front-line platoon under Aidman's command in Korea. Under the t… (more)