• Tiger Hunter, The



    Released By: Shout Select
    Released On: January 9, 2018
    Director: Lena Khan
    Cast: Danny Pudi, Karen David, Jon Heder, Rizwan Manji
    Year: 2016
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    The Movie:

    Young Indian lad Sami Malik (Danny Pudi) feels the pressures of growing up in the shadow of his father, regarded in awe by the villagers as a legendary tiger hunter. He takes the various tidbits of advice that the elder Malik passes on, mostly snippets about tiger hunting that translate to being successful in real life, and spends the rest of his time chasing after the beautiful Ruby (Karen David). Wisdom isn't the only thing that Danny's father passes on to the youngster, and shortly before the patriarch's death, he sells off his prized rifle and hunting gear so that his son may attend the finest British university in the country.

    Emerging with a degree in Engineering from his schooling, Sami is driven by the need to be a success so that he may convince Ruby's strict father that he is worthy of her hand in marriage; but he finds himself instead repairing the various radios and other electronic components that the people in his village bring him. A steady flow of work, to be sure, but the villagers also lack the funds to pay Sami in full. Convinced that the key to success lies across the ocean in America, Sami sends letter after letter to corporations across the United States, finally rewarded with an answer to his prayers in the form of an engineering job in Chicago, Illinois. The villagers scrape what little funds they have together, and with his mother's reluctant blessing and promises of a successful future to Ruby, Sami boards a plane for Illinois.

    The promise of the American Dream in the Land of the Free, however, proves to be Sami's first letdown, when he arrives at his new place of employment to find that there is no permanent engineering job, which will allow him to meet the requirements of his visa, but instead, a lowly draftsman job in the basement workspace of the corporation. Sami, recognizing that his schooling qualifies him for better work but being too naive to realize the reality of the situation, heads out to pound the pavement, but is promptly mugged of all of his clothes and money. Fortune shines on the young man in the form of Babu (Rizwan Manji) a helpful Pakistani who takes Sami into a communal apartment literally jam-packed with immigrants from a number of countries (and one Black dude who just can't get a break), and the group quickly hip him to job fairs and a shared suit that can be scheduled for interviews.

    When he realizes that he's destined for nothing but menial jobs, Sami contemplates returning to India, but it's a phone call from Ruby that sets him back on track. Traveling to the United States to check out potential suitors, Ruby and her Father plan to stop in on the young engineer, sending him back to his original prospect to accept the draftsman position. He meets up with Alex (Jon Heder) a lowly employee who seems to know the ropes that will get Sami into the clique of engineers; and who also happens to be the CEO's offspring. With the corporation scrambling to develop new technology relating to microwave ovens to secure a monstrous contract, Sami enlists Alex, Babu, and his other friends to formulate a plan to buy time with Ruby's dad, and maybe outshine those nasty microwave designers.

    Funded by a Kickstarter project, Lena Khan's The Tiger Hunter was the result of her effort to tell the story of immigrants to the United States, utilizing actual stories passed on to her and the other film makers by friends and relatives. And it definitely succeeds in that aspect, with multiple facets of the perils and comedy of traveling to a strange country placed on display, often with amusing and touching results. Pudi, Manji, and Karen David do a fine job of carrying the film, each of them charming and likeable enough to allow the viewer to commit fully to the events unfolding in their lives. An unfortunate casting choice, however, is made in the form of Jon Heder, who brings half of his Napoleon Dynamite schtick to the project, unconvincingly portraying whatever kind of character he's supposed to be playing. Scenes with Heder are the weakest scenes in the film, and his lack of ability sullies the other players sharing screen time with him.

    Heder aside, the film still works for the most part, with The Tiger Hunter's most memorable scenes containing subtle, quirky humour, such as Babu's infatuation with orange 1969 Dodge Chargers, made famous by the Dukes of Hazzard, or a hilarious group sleeping scene loaded with an abundance of body hair. The script sometimes goes for the laughs a little too hard, though, and there it fails, with similar steps back in progression when the film falls into the usual comedic tropes to unnecessarily fill out the story. Overall, though, Khan and Co. can look on this one with a sense of pride, as the young Director/Writer's first feature-length picture pulls off some impressive debut laughs, a well-rounded and mostly competent cast, and a deeper look into a culture that doesn't always hit the North American film radar.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Tiger Hunter comes to Blu-ray (with accompanying DVD) in an AVC-encoded 2.35:1 transfer that looks as good as it should, being that it's a rarely new film. Blacks are nicely rendered and the film makes good use of the colourful Indian landscape in the early stages of the film, with artifacts non-existent outside of a tiny moire effect on a staircase. Although the digital photography used in some darker scenes exhibits a smoothness that ventures into unnatural-looking, this can't be blamed on the transfer.

    Two audio tracks are included, both English, with optional English Subtitles. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is the one that I chose, which adds punch to the score and ambience, with dialogue remaining crystal clear and nicely balanced. The lossless DTS-HD stereo track is also an option for those without surround sound systems, as it also does a keen job of presenting the audio with no issues to be found.

    The main extra presented here is Not Just An Immigrant Story: The Making Of The Tiger Hunter (1:11:54, HD), a thorough look at the thought process, filming, and every other thing you can think of documentary. Rounding up all of the major cast as well as Director, and Producers, this supplement looks at the writers using stories from their families as the basis for the script, talks about highly skilled people coming to America and starting over in menial jobs, the inspiration for the characters, the cast reaction to the script, as well as working with Khan, and life on the set as well as the release of the film. It's a long one, but the enthusiasm that the participants exude makes it an enjoyable watch.

    A Trailer for the film is also included.

    The Final Word:


    The Tiger Hunter definitely qualifies as a "nice" film that brings out some solid acting talent and shows some real promise for Khan. When the film is relaxed, a natural charm and humour carries the film well, but when it ventures into formulaic, the laughs seem forced and the film suffers as a result. The Shout Blu-ray offers a nice transfer and great audio, as well as a comprehensive making-of documentary worth seeing.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!




















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