John McTiernan (Die Hard) directs Arnold Schwarzenegger who stars as a special forces commander named Major “Dutch Schaefer” in this modern action classic that combines raw action with a sci-fi element.  Schwarzenegger’s character may not be much of a stretch for him personally, but you have to admire his acting efforts here and the physical challenges he endured for this role.  Most of the male characters had intense physical training for their roles. Schwarzenegger trained so hard, he brought himself to the brink of physical exhaustion. He also got several memorable quips and one-liners that have stood the test of time.

Alan Silversti puts together an excellent score that’s apparent from the beginning as the movie sets up the action filled plot as a military incursion develops into a simple, and violent, showdown. Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” song also enhances this film.

The ensuing results definitely don’t disappoint as the simplistic plot, written by brothers Jim and John Thomas (Executive Decision) in their screenwriting debut, gradually increases in drama and realistic emotion with the reveal of the predator creature.

The jungle plays as much as a character as any member of the mostly male cast which includes Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, Jeese Ventura in his film acting debut, Sonny Landham, Richard Chaves, and action screenwriter Shane Black (also in his film acting debut). Ventura had great dialgoue too as he totes a M134 Minigun handheld.

Beginning with Schwarzenegger, these actors (in the same order previously listed) portrayed Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer, Staff Sergeant George Dillon, Sergeant Mac Eliot, Sergeant Blain Cooper, Sergeant Billy Sole, Corporal Poncho Ramirez, and Corporal Rick Hawkins. Audiences can’t help but feel some sympathy for these characters, even after they wipe out waves of humans in their military duties, because of the systematically cold way they are dealt with by the sci-fi element in the plot.

Elpidia Carrillo (Nine Lives, Salvador) holds her own among the gents as Anna Gonsalves, a local who becomes embroiled among this military men who slowly discover they’re in a situation far more dire than they thought. This great main protagonist cast reappears in a nice “curtain call” sequence during the ending credits.

The towering Kevin Peter Hall (Harry and the Hendersons) portrays the predator creature as well as a helicopter pilot. Peter Cullen (Transformers, King Kong, 1976 version) provides the voice and related sounds of the predator creature. R.G. Armstrong (Dick Tracy) plays General Phillips.

The creature effects (courtesy of Stan Winston), sound, and technical effects add so much realism and emotional impact to the plot. The special effects, Hall’s movements, the stuntwork, sharp sound, and the cinematography from Donald McAlpine (Moulin Rouge!) make this “rumble in the jungle” truly epic.

Like any good show, the very satisfying, and virtually dialogue free, climax definitely lives up to the previous buildup the characters exhibit about this ‘independent foreign study’.  Listen carefully to the answer given to Dutch’s question at the end.

Filmed in Mexico (Puerto Vallarta and Palenque), Predator comes highly recommended (***1/2 out of four stars) and is rated R for language, adult situations and graphic violence. Followed by two sequels, comics, video games, novels, and the spin-off franchise Aliens vs. Predator.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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