By John Gholson
Had enough of high-falutin’ flicks like The Artist and Hugo this week? Then let me direct your attention to Bounty Hunters, a no frills indie beat-em-up that carries on the long-standing action movie tradition of turning pro wrestlers into movie stars. In this case, it’s not some muscle-bound brute -- it’s Trish Stratus, arguably the most talented WWE Diva of the past decade.
Jules (Stratus) is a gorgeous part-time cocktail waitress/part-time bail enforcer who’s faced with a personal, ethical dilemma when a bail jumper gives up some dirt on a high-ranking mobster turncoat. Her and her fellow bail enforcers (played by Boomer Phillips and Frank Zupancic) can deliver the man right to his own death at the hands of the mob and collect a million-dollar pay-out, or do the right thing and run him in to jail, with no real reward. Their decision gets derailed when things do not go as planned.
Stratus, who Movies.com chatted with briefly ahead of the film's release on DVD, retired from WWE in 2006, focusing her talents on her own business, Stratusphere Yoga, but still keeps an eye out for new projects that seem like a good fit. In this case it was an action script from Reese Eveneshen and director Patrick McBrearty, who wrote the part of Jules with Stratus in mind, never expecting her to agree so quickly. Impressed with the action in the script itself, Stratus was also afforded the freedom to work out some of the fight scenes on the spot with her fellow actors, including the film’s opening, where our clip comes from, which pits Stratus against a wrestler in a gym, and later a close-quarters brawl with Andrea Lui in the back of a moving ambulance.
It pays off -- what Bounty Hunters lacks in the high polish of big-budget studio blockbusters, it makes up with exciting, well-staged fights. There’s also some nice interplay between Jules and Chase (Phillips). She admits that cutting up with Phillips on-set was mostly reined in by McBrearty with a firm “Be serious!” What little bit remains are some of the best parts of the film. Stratus attributes that improvisational comedic timing, at least in part, to her time in WWE. After night after night of live television on WWE’s Raw program, Stratus learned quick, “You have to be able to think on your feet.”
Because of the subject at hand, I was set to ask her about her favorite action movies, but talk segued into Christopher Guest films instead. One angle that never panned out in WWE might have seen her and Chris Jericho partnered together with mockumentary-style backstage antics, as both are big fans of Guest’s film. Stratus admits that she’d love to work with Guest, but would also just like to get the chance to do a comedy if the right one comes her way. Already planning ahead, she's hoping to remake Wrestling Women Vs. The Aztec Mummy alongside former ring-mate Lita, AKA Amy Dumas.
A movie like Bounty Hunters might be an instant buy for a Trish Stratus fans, but she hasn’t quite reached the levels of fame as her former co-workers The Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin. I asked what she’d tell people to expect from this movie if they were unfamiliar with Trish Stratus at all; she came back right away with, “Great action, awesome chick fights, and 100% Stratusfaction.”