Could Benicio del Toro and Tommy Lee Jones be savvy enough to take on Rambo?
So in this the week of Rambo, I would like to introduce you to two characters I think could go head to head with him in the forrest. They are Special Forces soldier Aaron Hallam, played by Benicio del Toro and his mentor L.T. Bonham, played by Tommy Lee Jones, in 2003’s The Hunted.
Seeing it was directed by William Friedkin of The Exorcist, Sorcerer, The French Connection, Cruising and To Live and Die in LA fame, you know you’re not getting a run of the mill action movie with this one.
The Hunted (2003)
The movie opens in the Pacific Northwest with two rich hunters tracking deer with rather complicated equipment that indicated more money then skills. A shadowy figure then turns the tables and hunts the hunters before slaying them in a particularly gruesome fashion.
Because the slaying occurred in federal land, it leads to the involvement of the FBI and certain intelligence services who recognize the handiwork. When the manhunt proves unfruitful, the authorities decide to bring in the man who trained the feral killer, one L.T Bonham, played be Tommy Lee Jones.
The L.T as he’s known is leading a quiet life working for a conservation group. But once upon a time, he was the man tasked with training elite military personal to track and hunt as well as kill quickly , silently and deadly using a knife. And his prized pupil was once Aaron, whose now gone completely off the reservation.
L.T. reluctantly agrees to join the hunt out of fear of what Aaron will do to the hapless law enforcement perusing him. Armed with just the clothes on his back, it doesn’t take L.T. long to track down his former student turned killer’s hideout in the wilderness. Their hand to hand combat reunion is cut short when Aaron is shot with a tranquilizer and taken into federal custody.
Rambo vs Rambo
Turns out you can be paranoid as hell but sometimes they are out to get you. Aaron is a decorated soldier from his actions in the Bosnian War. So much so, he was tasked out to the CIA. When an OP goes wrong, Aaron is made the scapegoat which is why he went AWOL and is now living off the grid stateside.
He is then remanded into the custody of No Such Agency who are there to tie up loose ends. Aaron declines their offer of assisted suicide, overpowers his captives and escapes into the city with L.T. In hot pursuit.
An exciting foot case trough the city leads to the death of anybody who crosses Aaron’s path before he floats down river to escape into the wilderness with L.T not far behind. So our two protagonists who are all about the purity of the hunt and the sanctity of the blade enter the forest where it is clear that only one man will leave alive. So dedicated to their craft, they each take time to each craft their own blade- Aaron by smelting his own blade over a fire and L.T. by using flint rock to forge his – before meeting on the field of battle one last time.
Sayoc Kali at its Best
You are about to be treated to the most realistic knife fight ever put to film. Both the actors trained extensively in the Filipino martial art of Sayoc Kali. You get to see two evenly matched, trained killers circle each other. You feel every cut and slice as they maneuver for advantage.
At one point, one throws blood into the face of the other to gain the upper hand. Killing with the blade is best described as a slaughter and it was one said by Grandmaster Fred Degerberg that in a knife fight, winners bleed but losers gush. That is on full display here.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Rambo didn’t come trough one of the L.T.’s training programs at some point and didn’t have Aaron as a sparing partner. So Let me know who you think the deadliest man to ever walk the planet is or was. Aside from Chuck Norris, that is.
Rediscover this action classic with Oscar caliber performances by those who were eventually nominated!