Antonio Margheriti (here credited as Anthony M Dawson as was the case with most of his US-aimed films) was probably the best Italian director when it came to action movies. Through the 1980's he gave us a whole host of madcap action movies with enough explosions per foot of film to rival any of Hollywood's most bombastic output. The Last Hunter is his "homage" (a word the Italians prefer over "rip-off") to Apocalypse Now, set in Vietnam with its central character, David Warbeck, taking on the role of a burnt out special forces operative heading off into the jungle for a dangerous mission behind enemy lines. Much of the action is quite small-scale especially when compared to Coppola's masterpiece; small scale firefights in small villages or in catacombs within hillsides, floating gunfights in boats on the river, nothing too spectacular in Hollywood terms, but boy does Marghetiti know how to rig explosions - they're massive, often using some great miniatures and models to make the huge balls of flame he manages to produce look even bigger. The opening sequence in what appears to be a brothel is testament to this, it starts quietly and ends five minutes later with dozens of soldiers dead and fire and brimstone literally raining down all around. Aswell as explosions, being Italian you just know Margheriti's going to have a penchant for gore too - machete's in heads, big gunshot wounds, everything you'd expect from him is here in abundance.
The plot's fairly basic - David Warbeck is sent on a mission to silence an outpost behind Viet Cong lines that's broadcasting anti American propaganda. He links up with a platoon of combat-crazy US troops who happen to have a journalist (spaghetti regular Tisa Farrow) along for the ride, and together they all set off to carry out the mission. It all goes horribly wrong, as usual, and the blood flows. Nice. It's probably my personal favourite of Margheriti's action flicks, some others being Codename Wildgeese, The Commander, Commando Leopard, and the Indio series, all of which would be more than welcome if they made an appearance on DVD.
Now, as regards the disc itself it's a mixed bag. The framing's wrong at 1.77:1 when it should be 2.35:1, and the cropping does make a difference to the composition on the screen. Having said that, it's never been available in any widescreen ratio in the UK before so anything's an improvement over the old vhs tapes from the 80's. The source print is Italian and fairly clean, if a little grainy, and the transfer isn't anamorphic, although we're talking Vipco here so anamorphic isn't something you'd expect anyway. There are compression artifacts evident, but nothing particularly distracting. It's about the best looking Vipco release I've seen but everything's relative. It goes without saying this wouldn't look good compared to a release of a modern film, but it's acceptable for what it is - a 20 year old low budget movie.
The sound's OK, nothing spectacular just a functional mono audio mix that would have benefitted from even a lowly stereo remix. Being Vipco, again, you don't really expect these films to be treated with the respect they deserve.
Extras are negligible, nothing of note at all beyond a couple of their usual trailers.
So I've split the difference - 4 for the movie, 2 for the disc giving 3 overall.