In 1965 this edgy Italian film (aka La decima vittima) inspired by Hugo and Nebula nominated American "science fiction" writer Robert Sheckley's 1953 short story in Galaxy Magazine, "The Seventh Victim" (that title having already been taken in films by a successful 1943 thriller, the ante was upped for this version), seemed outrageous and challenging in its assertion of our desensitization to death and passing reference to age issues (more fully developed in 1965's LOGAN'S RUN (in turn based on William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson's 1957 science fiction novel). So successful was the stylish film of his short story that Sheckley himself published a full novelization of THE 10TH VICTIM in 1966.
Most "stylish" examinations of a future "strangely like our own only cooler" date faster than yesterday's fish, but with the long overdue 2009 DVD release of the film, it's amazing how still up to date and modern this violent romantic comedy (from some angles it is a thriller, but a thriller raised to new levels because of a wicked sense of humor) actually seems - although in 1965 the film makers could not imagine an Italy that allowed divorce or an economy so bad that a million dollars would seem like a million lire.
The Piero Piccioni jazz score still dazzles - if an adapter could find a "live" equivalent for the cinematic finale to the movie (the film's weakest point) this could be the basis for a great modern musical. Cinematographer Gianni Di Venanzo's use of New York (the ruins of the old Penn Station and the World Trade Center construction site) and Rome (the Colosseum, Temple of Venus among other sites) ground the story while setting up its eroticism for the performances Director Elio Petri gets from a uniformly wonderful cast.
It isn't just the iconic first murder Ursula Andress pulls off during the credits (as Jacques Herlin recites "The Rules" of The Big Hunt) with her killer brassiere, it's the shrewd juxtaposition of the "computer matched" hunter and victims and social issues that are a constant undercurrent and overlay in the film as we watch Andress and Marcello Mastroianni perform their particular humorously over-planned dance of death. We're not long into this delicious film before we realize how it set up and surpassed all the so called "reality shows" polluting television today. "Voting someone off the island" or "out of the house" or "off a "talent" competition" is just another form of The Big Hunt" with all of us guiltily salivating at the vicarious "thrill of victory and agony of defeat."
As well as the film itself holds up, there's a second layer of interest on the film for those willing to go beyond the usually preferable UNdubbed version (the performances in the original Italian are wonderful). If you turn on the fine English language subtitles AND the unusually well done English language DUBBED soundtrack on the DVD, it's fascinating to note that they don't match! Sometimes the literal translation of the subtitles is dramatically better, but surprising frequency, the dubbing script - geared to fit as tightly as possible to the movement of the actor's lips - is superior. Taking both in enjoying the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) differences actually improves an already wonderfully layered film.
This is a must see for discerning fans of classic science fiction, romantic comedy or just plain intelligent film making and story telling willing to go beyond the "usual.".
Review by eschetic-2 from the Internet Movie Database.