Christopher Lambert (Highlander)
John Lone (The Shadow)
Joan Chen (On Deadly Ground)
Yoshio Harada (Azumi)
Yoko Shimada (Crying Freeman)
James Saito (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Paul Racine (Lambert), a computer chip company executive from New York, is on a business trip to Nagoya. He meets Kirina (Chen) in the hotel lounge, and they have a one-night stand. After they part ways, Kirina is approached by Kinjo (Lone) and two henchmen. Kinjo is the leader of the Makato cult, an organization of ninja assassins that was hired to kill her. He boasts that no one has seen his face and lived. Kirina shows no fear of dying, so he grants her final wish to show her his face. Racine returns, looking for his room key, and tries to defend Kirina, but he is late. Kinjo decapitates her as his men stab Racine, hit him with a poisoned shuriken and cut his throat, leaving him for dead.Racine awakens in a hospital room, but his claims of his encounter with ninjas are met with disbelief by the police. Lieutenant Wadakura (Okada) dismisses the allegation and suspects that the murder is the work of a yakuza syndicate. Racine is approached by Ijuro Takeda (Harada), an expert on the cult and on Kinjo. Takeda claims Racine’s life is in danger as he has seen Kinjo’s face. Racine also finds out that Takeda is the last in a samurai line and has a feud with Kinjo. The ninjas attempt to finish Racine off at the hospital, killing several hospital staff and police officers, including Wadakura, but he escapes. Takeda and his wife Mieko (Shimada) subsequently take him to their family’s stronghold, located on an island several hundred miles away. Leaving the city, Takeda secretly uses Racine as bait to draw Kinjo out, leading to a battle on the train where several passenger cars of innocent people are slaughtered by the ninjas. Takeda and Mieko kill the attackers, but discover that Kinjo did not take part in the assault. The ninjas’ leader was Junko (Natsuki), Kinjo’s lover; this increases Kinjo’s motivation to kill Racine and Takeda.During the boat ride to the island, Mieko explains the history of the conflict between the two clans and the samurai concepts of courage and honor to Racine. On the island, Racine spends time with the drunken bladesmith Oshima (Kubota), who is constructing a katana for Takeda. Despite the language barrier, the old man teaches him about smithing and swordsmanship. Meanwhile, Kinjo decides to find out who hired his clan to murder Kirina. The man he finds, Nemura (Saito), is a powerful yakuza figure who bought Kirina from her pimp uncle, then ordered her death when she left him after years of servitude. Disgusted that he killed an innocent woman over such a petty grievance, Kinjo kills the man.Three weeks after Kirina’s death, Takeda’s new sword is ready, and Racine’s injuries have healed. Takeda arrives at the island and is dismayed to find that Oshima has been training Racine. He humiliates Racine in a friendly duel. When Racine announces that he wants to leave the island and return home to New York, Takeda has him imprisoned and alerts Kinjo of his whereabouts. Hordes of ninjas arrive, overwhelming Takeda’s inexperienced samurai, but Takeda gets the duel with Kinjo he wanted. Kinjo is victorious, stabbing Takeda through the torso; Takeda in turn stabs Kinjo in the leg, but soon dies. As Kinjo is about to kill a helpless Mieko he is caught off-guard by Racine, whom Oshima had released on Mieko’s instructions. Racine stabs Kinjo in the right shoulder, hurting his dominant arm. However, he is armed with only a sword he barely knows how to use. With his newfound skills and assistance from Mieko, Racine manages to decapitate Kinjo. Oshima then arrives in battle gear, and is annoyed to find all the ninjas dead. Racine, Mieko, and Oshima walk up the hill toward the family castle.The Hunted is surprisingly high in production values, acting and story. It also provides a nice inside look into Japanese culture and society. Blood and Gore of course, are a plenty. Christopher Lambert played his role very well and kept his naiveté and innocence very well portrayed, while finding himself in the middle of a war. The sword-fight choreography is decent and very realistic. The Japanese actors put on a splendid show. This a gripping, colorful and highly satisfying film that will never have you bored at any point. I find it quite under-rated because it is quite well developed despite its obscurity. This is something I would recommend to any viewer.