Major Alan 'Dutch' Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and a band of mercenaries head into the Central American jungle to rescue some Americans from guerillas. However, there is an additional evil force at work in the jungle, something not human. The mercenaries are picked off one by one and soon Schaefer must face the alien predator alone.
Although it was only made in 1987, Predator
is already the kind of film that has action fans sighing, "They don't make 'em like that any more". Few later films can equal its testosterone-fuelled scenario, its graphic violence or its genuinely unnerving sense of danger. An alien big-game hunter comes to Earth to hunt the meanest, most dangerous creatures on the planet. Naturally, Arnold Schwarzenegger and his astonishingly muscle-bound team of marines are prime targets. The premise has a compelling Zen-like simplicity and the correspondingly minimalist script consists, for the most part, of the statuesque soldiers snarling one-liners at each other ("I ain't got time to bleed", "If it bleeds we can kill it") in between firing unfeasibly large weapons.
Director John McTiernan emphasises the claustrophobic confines of the jungle setting, allowing tension to build for the film's first two thirds by keeping the titular hunter concealed from both its prey and the audience. Composer Alan Silvestri's nerve-jangling percussive score racks up the tension yet further. When the creature does show its handiwork the results are horrifically gory, and, thanks to the film's insistently realistic tone, all the more terrifying. By the final act, a memorably mud-caked Arnie must discard all his high-tech weaponry and fight hand-to-hand against creature effects wizard Stan Winston's classic monster; McTiernan's action choreography ensures that the outcome of this hard-fought duel is never a foregone conclusion.
On the DVD: Predator at last gets the DVD release it deserves. Its previous incarnations used the bowdlerised TV edit; but this two-disc set restores the full theatrical cut, with skinned corpses aplenty and Carl Weathers' lopped-off arm among other messy delights. Not only that, but the sound options are now ultra-vivid Dolby 5.1 or DTS 5.1, though the anamorphic picture is still grainy in some of the darker scenes. John McTiernan provides a decent director's commentary, but much more fascinating information can be had from a text commentary option.
On the generously filled second disc there are seven short behind-the-scenes featurettes (including one dedicated to "Old Painless" the Gatling gun) plus a retrospective documentary, "If It Bleeds We Can Kill It", which includes both old and new interviews with many of the cast and crew. There are also outtakes and a deleted scene, special effects segments, camouflage tests and a text profile of the creature and its weaponry, plus a photo gallery. --Mark Walker
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.