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Demon Hunter
cast: Sean Patrick Flanery, Colleen Porch, William Bassett, Nancy Yoon, and Billy Drago

director: Scott Ziehl

78 minutes (18) 2005 widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Anchor Bay UK DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Christopher Geary
From the director of millennial TV-movie remake of Earth Vs The Spider comes this low-budget mix 'n' match Constantine knockoff, which attempts to bolt that film's exorcist-detective module onto the chassis of kung fu super-heroism from the likes of Blade and TV series Angel. However, the resulting contraption is so unwieldy that something just had to break...

Jacob Greyman (Sean Patrick Flanery) is a saviour of souls. He's a half-breed of human and demon, a violent maverick in the service of the church. Yet, much like the antihero of John Carpenter's Vampires, the cursed Jake rarely sees eye to eye with his scheming catholic masters. A horned and horny demon-chick, a winged succubus played by model Tania Deighton, visits our brooding hero - but she fails to arouse his interest, or anything else. For his next assignment, handed down to him from the overly pious Cardinal White (William Bassett), Jake gets lumbered with a female sidekick in the shapely form of undercover nun Sarah. A 'sister' in tight skirts and high heels (Colleen Porch, from Starship Troopers 2), she hides a soul-dark secret not revealed until the story's final twist.

The villain of this contemporary fantasy-horror is B-movie repeat-offender Billy Drago, as Asmodeus. As usual, Mr Drago makes for a great world-weary baddie. Here, he plays a demonic womaniser, toying with the trim starlets, including hot widow Angela (Nancy Yoon), who's seduced by evil in a mausoleum shortly after her husband's funeral. Drago's supernaturally powered character is simply too damned to care about the possibility of salvation, while Drago himself (a once-promising actor, evidenced by De Palma's classic The Untouchables) seems none too careful about his choice of genre scripts, nowadays, either. Although Drago effortlessly projects diabolical sleaze, even he cannot salvage this derivative mess. British action-starlet Sophia Crawford (stunt double for Sarah Michelle Gellar on Buffy) appears very briefly as a nameless hooker, one of Asmodeus' victims.

What sinks Demon Hunter is not the routine production or exploitation movie standards, it's the frequently clunky dialogue, shackled to witless clichés. Shallow heroics in a desperately hackneyed plot means that even the most charitable fans of this weird adventure stuff are likely to feel dissatisfied with the goods offered. Ghastly heavy metal songs, and the overuse of cellos during the incidental score, do not help matters. When all a film has going for it is some candlelit fetishism, and a couple of un-ironic quips, you might be forgiven for switching off the DVD, halfway through, without regret, and wondering... what on earth possessed you?

DVD extras: behind-the-scenes documentary, Demons Among Us (43 minutes), the stunt work is revealed in a featurette on the final fight sequence, and a there's a trailer.

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