By Jay Betsill
“Hunter” was one of the more popular series of the 80s starring former Los Angeles Rams Pro Bowl defensive end Fred Dryer as a Dirty Harry-esque L.A. police detective. Due to its acclaim and loyal fan base, it was inevitable that the character of Rick Hunter would be revisited and 1995’s “The Return of Hunter” is that film.
Things open with Hunter having been promoted to lieutenant and if it seems that he is a little more easy going now, that’s because he is in love. The lucky lady is Vicki Sherry (Beth Toussaint) and he pops the question during a Valentine’s Day dinner to which she glady accepts.
Sherry’s jealous ex-husband, legendary basketball coach Matt Sherry (Barry Bostwick) doesn’t take too kindly to the news and after having a few drinks, he pays Vicki a visit. Part of the reason they had split up was a domestic violence charge against Matt that was subsequently sealed in no small part to his celebrity status and he greets her with more of the same.
Hunter had been out at his captain’s (Charles Hallahan) retirement party and he arrives to discover his fiancee has been murdered.
Hunter and all of the L.A. tabloid-style media instantly believes Matt to be the killer and what follows is very similar to the salacious O.J. Simpson coverage with TV crews camped out in Bel Air at the gates of Matt’s mansion while Hunter lectures the swarms of press who surround constantly surround him about how “Everyone Walks in L.A.” since the system fails to get many convictions in high-profile cases.
Hunter’s partner in this movie is not McCall from the TV show, but rather Det. Sgt. Harry McBride (John C. McGinley) and while everyone, including the power hungry D.A. (Denis Arndt from Basic Instinct) and the lead TV reporter Sally Vogel (Lisa Eilbacher from Beverly Hills Cop) have rushed to judgement for their own personal benefit to ride the Matt Sherry prime suspect angle, Hunter receives a call from the actual killer, an attention-starved Jack Valko (Miguel Ferrer).
Apart from a chase scene, the movie differs from the TV show in that it is more of a cat-and-mouse thriller than an action movie.
The cast is solid, including Brian Keith as Vicki’s father mourning the death of his daughter and especially Ferrer as the serial killer who wants his 15 minutes of fame.
While the movie is dated (it was released in 1995), it still delivers for fans of 80s and 90s cop movies and those who are nostalgic for the iconic “Hunter” TV series.
“The Return of Hunter” is available to stream on Amazon Prime and tubi.
THE RETURN OF HUNTER (TV-PG)
Scale of 1-10 – 6 1/2