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Studio: Wicked Pictures » Review by Don Houston » Review Date: 11/1/06

XCritic's Advice: Highly Recommended


Wicked Pictures

Genre: Feature

Director: Brad Armstrong

Cast: Luscious Lopez, Marcos Leon, Dragon Lily, Devon Lee, Nyomi Banxxx, Tyler Knight, Julian St. Jox, Devon Michaels, Lee Stone, Kirsten Price, Chris Cannon, Jessica Drake, Brad Armstrong, Sandra Romain, Jada Fire, Brian Surewood, Carmen Hart, Myles Camack, Exotica, Tommy Gunn
Non-sex roles: Mia Smiles, Charlie Check'M, Ric Hard, Tuco Ramirez, Indio, Herschel Savage, Ron Brown, Dimonico, Black Tiger, others uncredited

Length: 158 minutes

Date of Production: 6/18/2006

Extra's: Okay, it's well known in the porn industry that when Wicked Pictures decides to go all out on a movie, they provide one of the best extras packages you'll find on the market, bar none. Aside from the classy fold out case that held the three discs in place and provided a slot for the trading cards of the stars (with lots of pictures and a textured finish that felt better than mainstream offerings), the first disc was blessed largely with the director's audio commentary starring Brad Armstrong, the lovely Jessica Drake, and Carmen Hart. Much of the track detailed Brad discussing some of the finer points of the shoot with Jessica beaming with pride about various points (both of her boyfriend Brad and her fellow performers) and Carmen seeming to absorb much of what was taking place. It was well handled and the decision to include the performers is always a nice balance with the director since they see different things.

On disc two, the extras really started to shine with another wonderfully complete Mark Stone version of All Access: The Making of Manhunters lasting 29 minutes. Because there were so many other opportunities to get interviews, this freed Mark up to get lots of the little preparational moments of the movie, from the training they went through to some of the location stuff, to even showing some of the commentary being made (a first IIRC). There was some light interview material with the cast but much of that was saved for later features. There was then a 5.5 minute long montage of the ladies of Manhunters with the gals looking all fancied up and the artistic nature of the extra enhanced. There was then a 4 minute Blooper Reel, a really cool (and lengthy) 33.5 minute long Behind the Scenes Sex Reel with a lot of the deleted sex footage that I probably would have preferred be included in the scenes, a 5 minute feature starring a real life bounty hunter called Bounty Hunting 101 where the guy (Bryan Uptgraft) blathered on about his profession (thankfully including the gals having some fun too), a 10 minute feature of the gals learning about guns and training for the physical rigors of the roles they played, a 1 minute clip of Jessica eating ice cream and making a mess, a 2.5 minute rap break by Ric Hard, a 2.5 minute long rock video called You Can't Run by Charlie Check'm that used clips and the contract ladies really well, and an alternate ending lasting a couple of minutes.

As if that weren't enough, the third disc (also devoted to extras) included interviews with the contract stars lasting between 3.5 and 5 minutes each (Brad made the most coherent sense, followed by Jessica), some text information on the leads with regard to the roles they played, another of the infamous trivia games to see if you were paying attention that yielded not one but two bonus scenes deleted from the original cut (the one I liked the most starred Kaylynn and Herschel Savage but the one with Shannon Kelly, Cassie Courtland, and Marcus London was also pretty decent-totaling 25.5 minutes altogether, there were four bonus scenes from previous Wicked Pictures releases (giving each gal a scene) with Kirsten and hubby Barrett Blade in Country Style, Carmen and Evan Stone in Becoming Carmen Hart, Jessica and Brad in Women on Top, and Exotica and Brad in Lovers Lane, a whopping 16 (or was it 18) photogalleries, some star stats, a bunch of trailers to movies like Fuck, Manhunters, The Visitors, Eternity, Camp Cuddly Pines, Hook Ups, Curse Eternal, and others that haven't been released yet, two promotional reels (from 2005 and 2006), photogalleries and star galleries to enjoy, DVD ROM materials like Wicked Awards and Nominations, company profile, casino game, and desktops, a DVD catalog, and some spam. Another third disc feature was a plethora of Easter Eggs; starting with two on the interviews page: Shout Out picking on Evan Seinfeld (Tera Patrick's hubby) by Randy Spears on the upper left corner and Shattered Dreams by Brad on being stuck thanks to some keys locked in a car; three on the bonus sex scenes page on the left side; from the top: Lollipops Are Funny, with the crew goofing on Herschel, DP With Guns showing Jessica and Kirsten playing around, and It Never Gets Old with the cast playing around in the gym with fake weights; two more on the photogallery page on the right side (from the top again): Randy's Surprise with the veteran actor getting a birthday cake that had enough candles to burn the bar down, and Southern Charm with Carmen discussing her anal troubles and giving tips to future performers everywhere; one on the More extras page on the upper left side under the word "More" called Getting Along with Kirsten and Carmen; and yet another on the promo page above the 2006 promo reel called Look What The Camera Can Do showing a super imposition effect.

Condoms: Yes

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Audio/Video Quality: Manhunters was presented in the same 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen color if was shot in by director Brad Armstrong for Wicked Pictures. Shot on 16mm film, the usual problems with grain appeared in most of the night scenes. This is exaggerated by the transfer to DVD yet the overall look of the movie was pretty good (though not great as I'd heard through the grapevine). There were some moments with heavy grain but the composition of the scenes showed Brad's skill with directing nearly as much as his director of photography's (Francois Clousot) inherent talent. There were some compression artifacts but they really weren't a big issue for me as infrequent as they were here. The audio was presented with three choices outside of the audio commentary; the standard 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround English track, a similarly encoded track that maximized the vocals and another than maximized the music score. I liked this idea a whole lot and think that Wicked Pictures should be congratulated for offering such a choice. There was some separation between the channels but most of the time, it wasn't like a true 5.1 track so much as some 2.0 vocals and music. Still, an improvement is an improvement and all the vocals could be heard on the appropriate tracks with some well made music too. There were also Spanish subtitles and English for the hard of hearing subtitles for those who care.

Body of Review: Brad Armstrong has been one of my favorite feature directors in porn in recent years, plying his trade at Wicked Pictures in such a way that when given the budget, he can go toe to toe with anyone in the industry; usually coming out on top. His latest release is the yearly blockbuster Manhunters, a tale of female bounty hunters that take on any challenge to get the job done. It looks like Brad went for a drama with some nice comedic touches to lighten the mood; a delicate balance that few of his peers could handle without either slipping into self parody or coming off as too serious, a tribute to his skill. I admit that I like his bigger features better than his modest efforts and this was my favorite of the year (though both Eternity and Curse Eternal were really fun too). The cover said it like this: "They're Coming For You! Bail jumpers beware, there's a whole new breed of bounty hunters in town. And hell hath no fury like a woman with a badge. But don't be fooled by their soft curves, these bounty-hunting bitches are as tough as nails, and ready for anything. Follow Rachel (Jessica Drake) and her crew, Kris (Carmen Hart), Bobbi (Kristen Price), and Maria (Exotica) as they scour the city in search of fugitives. From gang-bangers, to bank robbers, to thug rappers, they're hot on the trail. And be assured, these ladies always get their man. This shot on film blockbuster is a true piece of action-erotica. With nine intense sex scenes and edge of your seat action sequences, Manhunters is sure to entertain and arouse. Award winning director Brad Armstrong blurs the line between adult movies and mainstream cinema once again. This time, with a little help from these bad-ass bounty hunters." If you're still interested, here's a brief look at the scenes by cast and action, noting that condoms were used in all the scenes with men:

Scene One: Luscious Lopez, a gal with a big sweet ass and long black hair, was up first in bed with Marcos Leon. For those who don't know her, you're really missing out since she gives some of the best performances in porn and has remained somewhat of an unsung heroine in terms of adding heat to a movie. She sucked him off with the polished skill of a champion and he went straight to the anal as he pumped away like crazy to get as deep as possible inside her fleshy cheeks. It was an active ride (as expected) and the scene seemed to fit naturally with the story portions of the movie, ending with a facial.

Scene Two: Dragon Lily, Devon Lee, Nyomi Banxxx, Tyler Knight, and Julian St. Jox were up next in the recording studio with the two men getting blowjobs from the ladies. Devon bounced around a bit to assist, showing yet again that sharing is caring, but it seemed that all of the ladies were under utilized since it was strictly a hummer scene. In terms of the movie it worked better than the sex but it was nicely placed as this type of scene tends to be shied away from too often (a balance between the sex and story elements is one of the most difficult to achieve).

Scene Three: Devon Michaels, a gal with major curves that shows sex doesn't end when you turn 25 (or so), was up next with the massive Lee Stone in the home gym. She was looking very tight and lean, enhancing the effect as she slobbed his knob with the kind of skill few in the cast could have done (he's so well endowed that most of them wouldn't be able to handle him). Once completely hard, he bent her over and let his rod take over to give her a bone of his own (complete with some PTM). She was athletic and active in riding him, providing a solid ride on his cock as the two got very hot and very sweaty. It ended when she jerked him off to her mouth, making it another very good scene (the two seem to have a sense of chemistry together whenever they work in a scene with each other).

Scene Four: Kirsten Price, the attractive contract star was up next in the dojo as she turned the tables on instructor Chris Cannon on the mat. The oral and straight sex seemed kind of limited and I sort of wished they had been able to get Barrett Blade for the scene since she really didn't seem to have any chemistry with the award winning Chris at all. The positions were short and while it was technically decent work, their lack of spark weakened the scene to make it one of the low points in the movie for me.

Scene Five: Jessica Drake, the very hot lead contract star of the movie was up next in a red dress after she picked up studly Brad Armstrong and ended up in bed with him. They are currently together as a couple and the chemistry was the best of the movie as the two shared more than a moment together. They gave each other the kind of oral that said they wanted to get one another off repeatedly, taking their time to savor the moment rather then quickly collect a paycheck as so many feature scenes these days appear to offer. Jessica has long been a skilled lady and her looks only made the scene better with her moaning elevating the heat more than a little bit too. The penetrative sex included both vaginal and anal, with the couple showing that they cared for one another more than just bumping uglies. It ended with a facial though I would have preferred they take the couples angle one step further and provide something more natural, but I have long appreciated real life couples flaring up on the small screen more than some of the critics that prefer mechanical acts of depravity more.

Scene Six: Sandra Romain, Jada Fire, and Brian Surewood, were the twisted trio of the movie; having their scene in a small bed. The scene was notable for how wild they all were and how much pure enthusiasm they seemed to have, Sandra long having been established as a top anal queen and Jada proving her skills repeatedly of late. For his part, Brian is almost always over the top but it worked well here and I almost forgot his pirate role from last year as he fit the role here so very well (and I want to thank him for the Canadian headache medicine he provided a few of us at the show this year). The gals almost appeared as if they were in a contest to see who could be the most extreme or show the most energy with the viewer being the winner no matter how many points you'd give them. This was the polar opposite of the last scene but each worked on their own merits (unlike gonzo, a feature can mix and match all sorts of sexual dynamics and the better such movies do this more often than not with the lamer companies using cookie cutter formulas as taking the easy route out). The large toys, Sandra's anal and the messy oral they all seemed to engage in made this one of the movie's highlights for me even if I like a couple of the contract gals more. It ended when he unleashed his seed all over Sandra and Jada cleaned it off. Whew!

Scene Seven: Carmen Hart, one of the hottest contract hotties Wicked Pictures (or any other company) has ever employed, was up next in the shower with a newcomer named Myles Camack. They were in the shower and the non structured manner of the scene made her seem even more "cute and adorable" than her accent usually makes her. The blowjob was very well done with tremendous replay value for me and she actively rode his rod as they screwed heatedly in the room. It ended with the pop shot to her face as expected and I could've watched her going at it forever (in a sense, the sexual portion of the movie was led for me by her and Jessica as far as the contract gals go).

Scene Eight: Jessica Drake, Exotica, Carmen Hart, and Kirsten Price, were up next in the movie's big lesbian contract gal orgy. Such scenes are incredibly tough to get right since balancing the types of sex with the performers; something I have long thought only directors Jim Holliday and Joone could handle consistently well. Thankfully, Brad did a fine job here as well and given the level of quality of the quartet, it worked better than I thought possible. The ladies liked one another without the cattiness some companies have fostered in the past, elevating the strokability and replay value as a result. There were 8 fingers in Kirsten (her first on camera anal, even if with a woman, too). The use of toys and a rapid tempo added to the fun here with the scene worthy of award consideration even if they didn't try to jump the shark as most gonzo scenes would have done (some confuse doing more tricks with doing better scenes, something I've discussed with numerous directors in the past at conventions). I agreed with the commentary comments about how wet the ladies looked too. Yum! (I only wish the picture had been shot on video since it took on a dull, grainy, look with muted colors.)

Scene Nine: Exotica, the curvy brunette with the powerful legs and fine ass, was up last in bed with studly Tommy Gunn; both looking like the perfect porn couple. I haven't seen enough of her in the past to really comment on her in great depth but she seems to offer a lot of potential (and the tight shorts she wore in the previous basketball scene gave her ass the perfect look). This was another scene that went for the erotic display of heat over the circus act style of gonzo, largely working as a result of their apparent chemistry together. It was slow and sultry like Jessica and Brad's scene previously in the movie, though admittedly not quite as full of chemistry as that one was, but she was an active lay and that made it a fine scene to enjoy too. The slow hummer and paced vaginal work led to the largest pop shot of the movie and if this is indicative of her work with him, I hope she gets a showcase movie that uses him a few times.

Bonus Scene 1: Becoming Carmen Hart: Carmen Hart, again looking much like a younger, hotter, Devinn Lane, advanced her career as a last minute replacement in a scene with Evan Stone. If anything, she looked better here than in the previous scenes, as he diddled her to her great delight. While I'd like the contract cuties to have lengthier scenes, I can't deny their physical appeal in their scenes either so the balance always depends on how much they like working with a particular partner as to the level of heat. If anything, I'd say that she was turned on by Evan more than anyone she's worked with in a while and that added in enough heat to elevate the movie as a whole to the next level. Her oral was as active as ever, ball sucking included, and she aggressively rode his cock very well here too. It wasn't as active as Tiffany's ride but she displayed the gold here and the hip grinded was splendid. It ended with a larger facial and some post coital sucking, marking it as another solid scene.

Bonus Scene 2: Country Style: Kirsten Price, the hotty on the front DVD cover, in her debut starring role for Wicked Pictures, played a grease monkey flunky at a little place in the sticks. The blue jean overalls, cap, and dirt didn't detract from her appealing, all natural, physical attributes to real life hubby Barrett Blade. He went back into the office with him and the two kissed passionately as they pulled each other's clothes of slowly. She dropped to her knees and blew him with some measured skill, jerking him off in between her inhalation techniques. He seemed to enjoy the act and was soon plugging away at her pussy with an obvious condom on the counter. Why he didn't sample her tasty pussy is outside my understanding but it was a decent bout of boning to enjoy, especially when she got on top for the most active part of the scene. Seeing her breasts bounce in the reverse cowgirl was hot and the way she took the facial was a step above the usual cum dodgers porn is full of.

Summary: Manhunters was a classic feature by director Brad Armstrong for Wicked Pictures that used almost all of their contract gals to best advantage. It truly managed to combine the better elements of a mainstream movie and a high end feature porno with plenty of fuck for the buck, an incredible package of extras, and a diverse selection of scenes that refused to follow the usual cookie cutter approach most feature producers seem to rely on these days. Jessica and Carmen were incredible and the other ladies all added something special to the movie so you can see why Manhunters is one of my top features of the year. The acting was above average, the script well written with the audience in mind, and this became a clear contender for a number of awards for more reasons than I care to go into. There were some rough edges with the picture and the decision to use film instead of video or digital caused problems for me (ultimately lowering the rating a notch) but as far as features go, you'll be hard pressed to find more than a handful even coming close to this one in terms of entertainment value, strokability, and replay value so I rated it as Highly Recommended. Great job!

You can email me with questions at Houstondon @ hotmail.com if you have any constructive criticism of the review too. :) Also you can follow me on twitter @HoustonDon

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