Why this film is still so obscure and unknown goes beyond my admittedly limited comprehension. It has a good plot, albeit obviously a response to "The Wild Bunch" and basically just another (western) interpretation of the legendary classic "The Most Dangerous Game", the cast is excellent with both Gene Hackman and Oliver Reed in great shape and there's plenty of rough and gritty violence. The filming locations are exquisite and possibly to further cash in on the success of Italian Spaghetti westerns the producers even hired and Italian composer. Riz Ortolani's music is definitely one of the best elements about the film. Gene Hackman was never as vicious as here in this movie, portraying Brandt Ruger; a rich, obnoxious and egocentric bank owner who enjoys throwing hunting parties for his selected circle of equally depraved and wealthy friends. When a posse of bandits, led by the ever handsome Oliver Reed, kidnaps his wife, Brandt alters the route of their planned hunting trip and goes after them. Not so much because he loves his wife (played by the ravishing Candice Bergen), as he actually neglects and abuses her all the time, but because he's Brandt Ruger and nobody is supposed to touch what belongs to him. Ruger gets crazier and more determined to raise a bloodbath with each minute that passes, whilst his wife and her abductor fall in love. Hackman's character is truly the nastiest and most hateful type of villain there is: relentless, mad and unpredictable, but also cowardly as he continuously avoids confrontation with his opponents and shoots them from a safe distance with his technically advanced riffle. "The Hunting Party" is slightly overlong and contains a handful of tedious sequences, notably the romantic parts and the whole sub plot revolving on Melissa learning her kidnapper how to read. Still, there's always some type of ominous atmosphere, since you expect Gene and his docile accomplices to pop up out of nowhere at any given moment. The climax is very powerful, haunting and even quite depressing. The action is of course rather monotonous, since we exclusively witness people getting shot, but the images of cowboys dying in slow motion (and bathing in blood) are gritty and exploitative. The three leads are amazing and "The Hunting Party" comes with my highest possible recommendation if it were only for witnessing the final showdown between Reed and Hackman, two of the greatest actors that ever lived.