The Last Hunter (1980) – Film Review

The Last Hunter (1980) – Film Review

Director: Antonio Margheriti
Cast: David Warbeck, Tisa Farrow, Tony King
Certificate: 18

By Sarah Morgan

Ever wondered what an Italian take on the Vietnam war would look like? Well, now you’re getting the chance to find out.

The Last Hunter is a ‘macaroni combat’ movie, a subgenre of the war film so called because it was made in Italy and, like its spaghetti western counterparts, was worked on by a European crew, probably Italian or Spanish, but usually with a British or American star.

The Last Hunter (1980) – Film Review coverIn this case it’s David Warbeck who heads the cast. ‘David who?’ I hear you cry. Well, if you’re a fan of cult horror movies, you may recognise him from the Lucio Fulci movies The Black Cat and The Beyond, as well as Hammer’s Twins of Evil. He was actually a New Zealander by birth, but made his career in the UK.

“Reckless use of a hangun”

Here he plays US soldier Captain Harry Morris who, following his best friend’s suicide, accepts what turns out to be a fraught and terrifying mission behind enemy lines – his objective is to destroy a radio transmitter which is broadcasting anti-war propaganda to the already jaded American troops in an effort to undermine their morale.

Morris is joined by a couple of comrades, including jive-talking Sgt George Washington and a female news photographer. Watch out too for a cameo from Euro-thriller regular John Steiner as a Major who seems like a cross between the characters played by Robert Duvall and Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now.

The Last Hunter was actually the first macaroni combat movie to feature the Vietnam conflict; previous entries had concentrated on the Second World War. It was also made to capitalise on the success of Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter; homages can be seen not only in the title, but also the early scenes involving reckless use of a handgun (it stops short of becoming Russian roulette, but it’s not far off) and another moment in which Morris is incarcerated in a watery bamboo prison.

However, the story – one man’s pursuit of a damaging influence – is more akin to Francis Ford Coppola’s aforementioned masterpiece; it was even filmed in similar territory in the Philippines.

The Last Hunter (1980) – Film Review main


Director Antonio Margheriti, working under the pseudonym Anthony M Dawson, claimed he didn’t want to make a political movie, as Cimino and Coppola had done, but rather a Vietnam war film that was ‘fun’. I’m not sure that, due to their subject matter, such a thing is possible, but The Last Hunter is certainly less brow-beating than the two films that influenced it.

The pace is lightening-quick too, so you’re never bored. That helps cover up some of the shortcomings in the plot and the limited skills of its cast. Warbeck is a little wishy-washy to be a gung-ho GI, while Tony King as Washington (clearly added to the production in an attempt to cash in on the popularity of Blaxploitation) is just ridiculous, although some of that isn’t necessarily his fault – he’s left in a ludicrous situation by a bonkers plot. Tisa Farrow, younger sister of Mia, also pops up as a photographer, but her role is underwritten, leaving her with little to do apart from react when sex-starved men are leering at her.

Overall, the film is a good introduction to the genre for anyone unfamiliar with it, just don’t expect anything too intellectually stimulating. The raft of special features are also fascinating and educational.

The Last Hunter is released on Blu-ray by Treasured Films, £24.99

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.