The Rundown (2003) [Blu-Ray/DVD]

The fact that Dwayne Johnson became one of the biggest movie stars in the world is surprising considering he comes from a long line of wrestlers, and wrestlers don’t always translate in to big movie stars. Even people like Roddy Piper, may he rest in peace, never quite became a huge star despite his talent for playing assholes and loud mouths. We can talk all day about wrestlers that never made the big leap to acting, but Johnson earned his path, starting out in bit roles and mid-level action films like “The Rundown.” Sixteen years later, it’s an underrated gem in a large line of blockbusters from “The Rock.”

Johnson plays Beck, an imposing bounty hunter who is ready to leave the rough-and-tumble business and open his own small restaurant. To get out of the game, he needs a few more dollars and one more job. He’s asked to hunt down and return his boss’s son, Travis as played by Seann William Scott, and earn an easy quarter-million dollars. Beck descends into the Amazon in search of Travis, who himself is in search of a rare artifact known as “Gato del Diablo,” or “The Devil’s Cat.” Beck soon encounters the violent Hatcher (Christopher Walken), also after the Gato. Beck finds Travis easily enough, and the pair soon find themselves on the run from Hatcher and his goons. With the help of local bartender-by-day and rebel-leader-by-night Mariana (Rosario Dawson), the fight for survival ensues.

It says a lot that “The Rundown” is packed to the brim with charismatic and great actors like Rosario Dawson and Christopher Walken, and the film is still considered a Dwayne Johnson vehicle. “The Rundown” is supposed to have been the film where Arnold Schwarzenegger passes the torch on to Johnson (still a very cool cameo to this day), and for the most part the process symbolically comes to fruition. You can argue that Johnson is a modern Schwarzenegger, except a much better actor in the long run. “The Rundown” is a mix of a buddy comedy, a crime thriller, and an adventure much in the vein of “Indiana Jones” in where our protagonists are thrust in to the search of an ancient artifact.

Along the way, Johnson grabs some fine moments with the whole cast, including Dawson who is always fantastic, and William Scott who fulfills his role as the resident comic relief. There are some fine action and comedy sequences, including the trudging through the waters with the warning of the dreaded Candiru fish. There’s also the awesome throw down with Amazonian martial artists with Johnson that never fails to be a fun free for all. Peter Berg’s “The Rundown” holds up shockingly well, and if anything, it’s a preview of the mega star Dwayne Johnson would become. It’s also a fitting bit of proof that Rosario Dawson can play any role.

The Blu-Ray from Mill Creek comes with none of the extras from previous editions, and there aren’t any real bells or whistles.