L'Alpagueur (1976)

aka: Hunter Will Get You
Crime / Action / Thriller


L'Alpagueur photo
"L'Alpagueur" is the code name for Roger Pilard, a bounty hunter who works for the French security services on cases where "conventional" police methods have failed. Having smashed a notorious drugs ring in the Netherlands, Pilard is assigned to eliminate a ruthless crook known only as "L'Epervier", who enlists juveniles to help him in robberies before killing them. Pilard's only lead is Costa Valdez, one of L'Epervier's former accomplices who lived to tell the tale, but who is being held in a high-security prison...
© filmsdefrance.com 2012

Film Review

Film poster
Having worked successfully with Jean-Paul Belmondo on L'Heritier (1973), the journalist-turned-director Philippe Labro was keen to work with Belmondo again and proposed a hard-edged crime thriller initially entitled Les Animaux dans la jungle. Belmondo was attracted by Labro's initial script, but asked him to emphasise the solitary nature of the character he would play, L'Alpagueur, which would also become film's title. This would be the first in a series of tough guy roles which Belmondo would take on over the course of the next decade and a half, in films invariably named after the character played by the star actor - notably Le Professionnel (1981) and Le Solitaire (1987).

Although L'Alpagueur is a slick thriller with a great deal of artistic flair and some spectacular action scenes, it is slightly marred by its uneven pacing and thin characterisation. Little, if anything, is explained about the motives of any of the characters in the film and this weakens its interest value. That said, the film boasts a strong performance from Jean-Paul Belmondo, and also his co-star Bruno Cremer, who is chillingly brutal in the role of the psychopath-criminal, L'Epervier.

The film is notable for being the first which Belmondo was the sole producer. The combined pressures of being lead actor and producer took a severe toll on Belmondo's health during the making of this film. In the film's main action sequence (where L'Apagueur is running after a petrol tanker to rescue his accomplice), Belmondo is clearly in agony. A few days before, the actor had suffered a serious back injury, but he kept this to himself in order not disrupt the filming schedule.

The film is less a traditional French "polar" and much more a latterday Western, transposed to bleak locations in Northern France. The influence of Jean-Pierre Melville and Sam Peckinpah - two directors whom Labro admired greatly - are clearly noticeable throughout the film. The cold brutality of the film's main characters, the paucity of dialogue and the director's icy detachment are distinctively Melvillesque, and Labro freely admitted that one extended sequence was intended as a homage to Peckinpah's film Gateway.

Although it is now regarded as one of Belmondo's better action films, L'Alpagueur's initial release proved to be a major disappointment for its director and producer. The film was badly received by film critics and proved not to be a great commercial success, in spite of the fact that Belmondo was at the height of his popularity.
The above article was written for filmsdefrance.com and should not be reproduced in any medium without the author's permission.


The director Philippe Labro also worked with the actor Jean-Paul Belmondo on the film L'Héritier (1973).

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