When a Los Angeles mayor candidate is kidnapped from his home at gunpoint, suspicions immediately turn to the incumbent mayor in what seems cheap move to remove a rival, but the abduction is no snatch and grab for a quick buck and political advantage. All-around prevailing bad guy Tim Cavanaugh is the spiritually unhinged mastermind orchestrating the scheme behind the scenes. When the police don’t have a clue what to do next other than to wait for kidnapper demands, bounty hunter Ruger steps into the fold with a coerced hot tip about the kidnapping plan. With a score to settle in the death of her ex-partner, Ruger is hot on Cavanaugh’s tail, foiling multiple assassination attempts on a witness, the mayor candidate’s wife, by Cavanaugh’s men, and determined to put an end to Cavanaugh once and for all.
If you’re a Sybil Danning fan whose had enough of seeing the blonde genre film icon in skimpy, or even sans, clothing, then “L.A. Bounty” should be your next upcoming feature with a leather-cladded Danning, in a nearly dialogue silent performance, blasting away henchmen left-and-right with a pump action shotgun. The 1989 action thriller is penned by Michael W. Leighton (“Rush Week”), based off a story from the “Chained Heat” and “Howling II …. Your Sister is a Werewolf” cult actress and directed by “Power Ranger” franchise director Worth Keeter. Before made-for-TV round house kicks, Zordon, and Kaiju monsters and machines that has become the mega “Power Ranger” franchise, Keeter had made a modest life out of obscure indie horror with “Dogs of Hell,” worked with buxom blondes such as Pamela Anderson in the thriller “Snapdragon,” and even dabbled in the exploitation ventures of Earl Owensby productions with “Chain Gang.” Filmed in and around the Los Angeles area, “L.A. Bounty” is the ex-con gone vigilante with a vendetta from the production team of the Danny, Robert Palazzo, and S.C. Dacy founded Adventuress Productions International as well as a production of Leighton & Hilpert Productions, with Michael Leighton producing, and presented by the Noble Entertainment Group.
As one of renowned queens of scream, Sybil Danning, is a recognizable icon amongst low-budget horror fans as well as cheap thrill actioners and sexy thrillers. So much so, that her fame has granted her the opportunity to work on a passion project where she can be the Sylvester Stallone or Chuck Norris shoot’em up action hero that was a popular juggernauting ilk in the 80’s. Cladded in leather and denim, Danning plays the silent, strong type with emphasis on the silent. Her character, an ex-cop named Ruger now a bounty hunter looking to even the score with Cavanaugh who ruthlessly wasted her partner, has roughly three lines in the entire 1 hour and 25-minute runtime, but Ruger is in full blown view of being badass with a large gun and unafraid to use it on mindless grunts. Danning coldness compliments the contrary with Wings Hauser’s babbling, manic psychopath. The “Mutant” and “The Wind” actor’s sordid bad guy Tim Cavanaugh has a special relationship with God, warped by his twisted nature for organized chaos, but is unable to keep trusted entourage due to the fact he keeps killing them for not being able to nix Ruger. Hauser is fantastic to watch as the unconventional villain of unpredictability. For instance, Cavanaugh never leaves home base, a storage warehouse full of crates and containers and apparently inside those crates and containers are mechanism and gadgets to thwart off unwelcomed guests. As Hauser improves dancing through the hallways and displays erratic behavior while painting, we’re starting to realize Cavanaugh’s mindset is one we’ve seen before but without the Joker face paint and the act is entertaining and pairs well with Danning’s stoicism. While Ruger and Cavanaugh are obviously the main course, veteran TV actor Henry Darrow (“Tequila Body Shots”) and a slightly younger veteran TV actress Lenore Kasdorf (“Amityville Dollhouse”) appetize in between with sticking to the script of a routine kidnapper scenario, offering little to motivate the direction the story itself works toward itself. Robert Hanley, Van Quattro (“Agnes”), Bob Minor (“Commando”), Frank Doubleday (“Escape from New York”), Robert Quarry (“Count Yorga, Vampire”) and Maxine Wassa (“No Strings 2: Playtime is Hell”) as Cavanaugh’s nude muse for his art.
“L.A. Bounty” is about a bounty hunter tracking down an old adversary for retribution but other than a few pieces of wanted paper notices, there’s really no other indication that Ruger is like Dog Chapman the Bounty Hunter although the platinum blonde hair would suggest otherwise. Sybil Danning is definitely sexier in leather and denim than Dog and sure does talk a whole lot less but as a part of general audience pool and with a title that suggest such a profession, wouldn’t it make more sense to build up Ruger’s caseload with a few introductory chases before we’re chin deep in the Cavanaugh obsession? Also, that motivational drive that sends Ruger down a path of payback lacks substance and is sullied by a script snafu of Ruger having a flashback of Cavanaugh executed her partner despite not being present. Fortunately, “L.A. Bounty” is not a feeble farce of an action flick. Danning is a striking, statuesque presence, the squibs exhibit a bloody gun blazing firefight, and if you’re a disappointed perv in Danning keeping her clothes on this time around, there are a handful of brief nudity scenes from other actresses sprinkled throughout. One of the other highlights is the eclectic score arrangement by then “Heart” guitarist Howard Leese and John Sterling of “Revenge of the Cheerleaders.” With a Jan Hammer-esque synth-tense wave, a cop melodrama guitar riff, presumably provided by Leese, and a contemporary tribal beat, “L.A. Bounty” has immense range for every scenario with its own personal composition that’s high energy, catchy, and fits the action.
“L.A. Bounty” differs from any other role in the Sybil Danning canon that’s mostly action and barely any talk and is dead set on broadening the cult actress into the popular rogue cop role of the late 80’s-early 90’s. Scorpion Releasing presents the original MGM vault material of “L.A. Bounty” on a high definition, 1080p, AVC encoded Blu-ray release with an anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The 35mm stock has retained its blue-ribbon quality from over the years and the transfer really accentuates the near timeless picture with a brilliant, well-balanced, color palette, an even contrast for production lighting to properly illuminate around the faint and dense shadows, and no noticeable meddling against a natural grain with a pleasant texture scheme. The English DTS-HD stereo mix is mighty donkey that might be lite but packs a punch when it kicks. The release could benefit from a multi-channel surround sound output to give a tumultuous sense of melee gun battles. Dialogue is clean, clear, and ample with good depth definition and plentiful range in ambience. Optional English SDH subtitles are available. What’s essentially a bare bones release, the Blu-ray only comes with chapter selection and setup options. The physical attributes echo the supplementary material with a traditional Blu-ray snapper with outer latch and cover art based off the film’s original one sheet. The film is rated R, is region A hard coded, and has a runtime of 85 minutes. “L.A. Bounty” remains a step or two above the Andy Sidaris guns, girls, and giant explosions fare with gilt-edge performances and stylistic avenues representing the best of the originating decade in what is the most divergent film of Sybil Danning’s typically typecasted career.