The Hunted (1995 film)

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The Hunted
Theatrical release poster
Directed by J. F. Lawton
Produced by John Davis
Gary W. Goldstein
William Fay
Written by J. F. Lawton
Starring Christopher Lambert
John Lone
Joan Chen
Yoshio Harada
Yoko Shimada
Music by Leonard Eto
Motofumi Yamaguchi
Cinematography Jack Conroy
Edited by Robert A. Ferretti
Eric Strand
Bregman/Baer Productions, Inc.
Davis Entertainment
Distributed by Universal Studios
Release dates
February 25, 1995 (1995-02-25)
Running time
111 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million
Box office $6,609,661

The Hunted is a 1995 film written and directed by J. F. Lawton, starring Christopher Lambert, John Lone, and Joan Chen. The score features music by the Japanese taiko troupe Kodō.[1]


Paul Racine (Christopher Lambert), a computer-chip executive from New York, is on one of his many business trips to Nagoya. He meets a beautiful woman named Kirina (Joan Chen) in the hotel lounge, and ends up having a one-night stand with her. When he attempts to further the relationship, Kirina implies that she has no future and thanks him for a wonderful night of pleasure and love. Dejected and somewhat confused, Paul reluctantly leaves her to be alone as she requests.

Soon after he leaves her suite, however, she is approached by Kinjo (John Lone) and two other men dressed as ninja. Kirina shows no fear and explains that she has accepted her fate. Kinjo, the leader of a cult of ninja assassins, is impressed by the woman's courage and grants her final wish by showing her his face. Paul, who had left with the wrong room key, returns and, upon seeing the situation, hides in the foyer while calling the police. When Kinjo decapitates Kirina (after telling her that she's the first person outside of the cult ever to see his face), Paul first tries to come to her defense—alerting the three ninjas to his presence—and then tries to flee. Enraged that someone else has seen his face, Kinjo's men stab Paul, hit him with a poisoned shuriken, and slash his throat, leaving him for dead.

Paul awakes in a hospital room, where he is told that the wound will heal, but his claims of seeing Kinjo are met with disbelief by the police. Lieutenant Wadakura (Masumi Okada) dismisses the allegation and suspects that the murder is the work of a Yakuza syndicate. While recuperating, Paul is soon approached by a man named Ichirou Takeda (Yoshio Harada), who is an expert on the cult, and Kinjo in particular. Paul later discovers that Takeda is the last in a long line of samurai and has his own score to settle with Kinjo. The ninja then attempt to murder Paul at the hospital, killing several hospital staff and police officers in the process, including Wadakura, Paul barely escaping. Takeda and his wife Mieko (Yoko Shimada) subsequently decide to take Paul to their family's stronghold, located on an island several hundred miles away. In leaving the city, however, Takeda uses Paul as bait to draw Kinjo out. This leads to a battle on a bullet train in which several passenger cars worth of innocent people are slaughtered by the ninja. Takeda and Mieko defeat the attackers, only to learn that Kinjo was not among them. The ninja leading the attack was Junko, Kinjo's lover, giving the ninja master personal motivation to kill Paul and Takeda.

While on the island, Paul spends much time with the drunken blacksmith Oshima, who is constructing a new sword for Takeda (he had furiously broken his own sword following the train fight when police confiscated it as evidence), and the old man teaches him about both smithing and swordsmanship. Mieko explains to him the history of the two clans' conflict as well as the samurai concepts of courage and honor. Mieko is sympathetic toward the gentle and compassionate Paul, the polar opposite of her moody and somewhat-deranged husband, although she remains fiercely loyal to Takeda.

Meanwhile, Kinjo decides to find out who hired his clan to murder Kirina. The man he finds, Nemura, (James Saito) is a powerful Yakuza figure who bought Kirina from her father, then ordered her death when she left him after years of servitude. Kinjo, disgusted that he killed an innocent woman over such a petty grievance, kills the man.

Three weeks later, Takeda's new sword is ready, and Paul's injuries have healed considerably. When Paul announces that he wants to leave the island and return home to New York, Takeda has him imprisoned and sends a message to Kinjo telling him Paul's whereabouts. Takeda's inexperienced samurai are overwhelmed by the hordes of ninja who arrive on the island, but Takeda finally gets the duel with Kinjo that he has wanted all along. Kinjo stabs Takeda through the torso; Takeda in turn manages to stab Kinjo in the leg, but soon dies.

As Kinjo is about to kill a helpless Mieko he is caught off-guard by Paul, whom Oshima had released on Mieko's instructions. Paul stabs Kinjo in the arm, but now finds himself face-to-face with his would-be killer, armed with only a sword he barely knows how to use. With his newfound skills, a lot of luck (the injuries to Kinjo's leg and especially to his arm), and the assistance of a wounded Mieko, Paul manages to decapitate Kinjo, as he had done to Kirina.

The film ends with Paul, Mieko, and Oshima starting to head up the hill toward the castle in the distance.


  • Christopher Lambert as Paul Racine
    A computer-chip executive from New York who meets a mysterious woman in Nagoya and becomes the sole witness to her murder. He is then targeted by a ninja clan and their leader.
  • Joan Chen as Kirina
    A beautiful and mysterious Japanese woman with a price on her head. After a one-night stand with Paul she is murdered by Kinjo.
  • John Lone as Kinjo
    A master ninja and leader of a cult of assassins. His identity and face are a closely guarded secret - one that he will kill to protect.
  • Yoshio Harada as Ichirou Takeda
    A modern-day samurai and respected expert on ninja in general, and Kinjo in particular. He uses Paul to get to Kinjo, but in the end he is defeated by the ninja master.
  • Yoko Shimada as Mieko Takeda
    The quiet and kind wife of Takeda. She teaches Paul the ways of her people and often acts as intermediary between him and her husband while nursing the American back to health at their family's mountain stronghold.
  • Takayuki Kubota as Oshima
    A wizened old blacksmith who lives at the Takeda family stronghold. He teaches Paul the art of swordsmith and swordsmanship, as well as a little Japanese along the way.
  • Mari Natsuki as Junko
    A female ninja, one of Kinjo's lieutenants, and also Kinjo's lover. She is a formidable fighter and every bit as vicious as Kinjo. Takeda kills her and eight other ninjas after luring them into attacking Paul on a high-speed bullet train. As she dies, she mutilates her face so that no one will be able to see it in death.
  • Tatsuya Irie as Hiryu
    One of the ninja in Kinjo's cult.
  • Masumi Okada as Lieutenant Wadakura
    The detective initially in charge of Paul's protection at the hospital. Somewhat disbelieving the American's "ninja story", he assures a nervous Paul that the hospital is surrounded by police and that he has nothing to fear from the ninja. He is soon proven wrong when he and numerous other police officers are killed during the ninja attack on the hospital.
  • Seth Sakai as Doctor Otozo Yamura
    A Doctor at Nagoya City Hospital and a friend of the Takeda's. He informs the Takeda's of the attempted assassination on Paul Racine and is later killed trying to warn police as ninjas attack the hospital.


  1. ^ Trailer is available here

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