The Hunters (1996 film)

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The Hunters
The Hunters (1996 film).jpg
Swedish DVD cover
Directed by Kjell Sundvall
Produced by Joakim Hansson
Björn Carlström
Written by Kjell Sundvall
Björn Carlström
Starring Rolf Lassgård
Lennart Jähkel
Helena Bergström
Jarmo Mäkinen
Music by Björn J:son Lindh
Cinematography Kjell Lagerroos
Distributed by Sonet Film AB
Release dates
  • 31 January 1996 (1996-01-31)
Running time
118 minutes
Country Sweden
Language Swedish

The Hunters (Swedish: Jägarna) is a 1996 Swedish thriller directed by Kjell Sundvall. A police officer from Stockholm moves back to his hometown Älvsbyn in Norrland in northern Sweden. He starts to work on a long-running case where reindeer have been poached and soon discovers that his brother is involved.

The film was one of the biggest Swedish box-office hits ever and received two Guldbagge Awards for Best Direction (Kjell Sundvall) and Best Supporting Actor (Lennart Jähkel). It was also nominated for Best Actor (Rolf Lassgård), Best Cinematography and Best Screenplay.

Hollywood wanted to make a remake of this film and the American producers wanted it to be about cowboys in the Nevada desert, shooting wild horses for fun. Kjell Sundvall was positive to this at first but later changed his mind.

A sequel, The Hunters 2, premiered in September 2011.


Erik (Rolf Lassgård), a Stockholm police officer reunites with his relatives upon the death of his abusive father in Norrbotten, where his brother Leif (Lennart Jähkel) resides as an adult, having been traumatized by the abuse to which level he gave up his dreams of becoming an opera singer, and instead stayed in the small community where he was convinced he belonged. This revealed-to-be tragedy is a substory to the main plot.
Being shocked after killing a man in duty, Erik has been transferred to the local field office. He soon starts to suspect his brother's friends, led by the half-Finnish Tomme (Jarmo Mäkinen) to be the culprit pursuers of massive illegal hunt of reindeer and moose. At first he is mostly distressed with the local police's unwillingness to deal with the problem, but as events unfold he discovers illegal weapons in Tomme's car outside a pub, and decides to intervene. The latter is close to assaulting Erik when he is saved by his brother, who is himself partly stigmatized by the others for the cause. It is later revealed that Leif in fact leads the illegal hunting, but out of love for his brother wants to keep him unaware and out of trouble.
The police become stressed, as the community grow more angry that the matter of the illegal hunt isn't solved. Erik continues to spy on Tomme, and after breaking into his house he discovers illegal guns and carcasses in enormous amounts, but is confronted before he has the time to alert his colleagues and is knocked unconscious. Leif decides to keep down operations until further notice, as the population has been too aware of the fact. Several members of the gang, though, have kept on a precious lifestyle, and are bound to pay loans and debts. Pursuing a big raid to recover the lost income, Tomme accidentally shoots and kills a Russian bilberry worker, and Leif pursues slits the throat of another as she witnesses them dumping the body in a lake. Unaware that the slaying of the woman has been seen by Ove, a kind but mentally retarded childhood friend of Erik, the five men decide to keep silent of the matter instead of going to the police, as Leif would face life.

Erik's situation becomes more distressed, as he suspects his brother is hiding something. He confronts him picking on his Filipina girlfriend and worker at the local pub, verbally abusing her racially, Erik pins down his brother and thereby ultimately betrays his respect. Led by Leif, the hunters goes to confront the Filipina once alone, assaulting and forcing her to sexual intercourse by violence. It is later revealed that she returned to the Philippines. Erik, meanwhile, tries to have Tomme's wife betray her husband and tell him something, but she refuses. Upon the arrival of a female attorney detective from Stockholm (Helena Bergström), the body of the Russian woman is found. With information from Ove, the police find the body of the male Russian, contaminated with the bullet. Erik tells Ove to stay inside and keep his door locked, but once discovering the source, Leif and the others arrive to Ove's house and take him out in the woods. Erik and prosecutor Anna arrive too late, as the gang has "accidentally" shot Ove, who remarkably tried to defend himself by shooting Leif in the chest upon discovering that the latter had emptied his rifle.
Though distressed by the obviousness of the crime, but seemingly unable to prove that the hunters killed Ove deliberately, Erik is forced to pursue a hunt on the rifle of which the Russian was shot. In a final stand-off he is fired at and nearly killed by Tomme, but manages to assault the latter using an iron bar, prosecuting Tomme for the murder. As he is unable (and perhaps unwilling) to have his brother convicted, Erik decides to return to Stockholm, and after having a final conversation with Leif he drives away in his car (having received his part for the inheritance from his dead father) but suddenly the house explodes ablaze, revealing that Leif had committed suicide. Erik returns to Stockholm, trying to pursue another life than that his father and his brother had attempted.

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