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An Underrated Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Just Arrived On Netflix

Looking for a little action, a little comedy, and a little Arnie? Have we got a movie for you.

The unheralded 2017 flick Killing Gunther has landed on Netflix, and if you missed it upon its initial release (you'd be far from alone), now is your chance to catch up on a heck of a funny movie.

Killing Gunther takes the idea of competing hitmen at war with each other to bizarre and hilarious extremes, and if you've never had occasion to see Schwarzenegger hamming it up in one of his many comedies — like Twins, Jingle All the Way, or Kindergarten Cop — then it might be helpful to know that the big guy is a natural. He has such a complete understanding of his onscreen persona and quirks that sending them up is just second nature for him, and fans know that Arnie has an excellent sense of humor.

The flick is the directorial debut of Saturday Night Live alum Taran Killam, who also wrote the screenplay. Killam brought over fellow ex-SNL cast member Bobby Moynihan in a supporting role, and the rest of the cast includes ringers like Hannah Simone (New Girl), Cobie Smulders (Agent Maria Hill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), and Allison Tolman (Fargo). They all bring their unique comedic gifts to the party, but of course, the real star of the show is Schwarzenegger. He's obviously having a blast playing at once a distillation and a caricature of some of his most iconic uber-badass roles.

So, what will you be in for when sitting down to crack open Killing Gunther? Well, for one thing, don't necessarily expect the flick to live up to the promise of its title. 

What is Killing Gunther about?

Killam (whose name, we must say, is oddly appropriate for his character) stars as Blake, a middle-of-the-road hired killer who's lost his girlfriend Lisa (Smulders) to Robert "Gunther" Bendik (Schwarzenegger), a legend among hit-people. Blake gets it into his head to kill Gunther, employing a crack team of crooks and fellow hired killers, while a documentary video team follows them around and charts their progress (the movie is presented as a faux-documentary). Unfortunately, the team he assembles isn't quite as crack as most such teams you see in more straight-faced pictures of this type; in a sendup of flicks like Ocean's Eleven, Blake's team includes the likes of a technology expert (Paul Brittain) who doesn't know squat about technology, an Islamic extremist (Amir Talai) with a Winter Soldier-style metal arm, and an elderly mentor figure (Aubrey Sixto) who keeps having heart attacks.

The first time the gang assembles, one of their number is immediately picked off with a sniper rifle by Gunther, who then vanishes... and this will become a recurring theme throughout the movie. At every turn, they encounter bombs, tons of deadly snakes, and all sorts of other hazards where they expected to find Gunther. The dude is just perpetually one step ahead of them, and after losing one accomplice too many, Blake decides to call off his team.

However, he decides to take the fight to Gunther all by his lonesome, with only the documentary crew in tow — leading to a final confrontation that ranks among the most hilarious of such scenarios we've ever seen. We won't spoil the reveal, but suffice to say that there is, of course, a reason why Gunther has been so keyed-in to the gang's activities.

Why have I never heard of Killing Gunther?

Killing Gunther was announced at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, with production company MadRiver Pictures attempting to secure international distribution there. There were no takers at Cannes, but with that stellar cast in place, MadRiver felt comfortable going into production that summer. Eventually, the distribution rights were acquired by Saban Films, for which genre films targeted at niche audiences are something of a specialty. Other notable recent flicks distributed by company include The Haunting of Sharon Tate, 3 From Hell, and Guns Akimbo.

Saban, as is its wont, chose a weird release strategy for the film. It actually received its release on digital video on-demand platforms first, in September 2017. This was followed by an extremely limited theatrical release the next month. The flick received mixed reviews, and somehow failed to set the world on fire playing in only a few theaters. In the end, it came and went with barely anybody noticing.

This is a crying shame, because while Killing Gunther certainly isn't high art, it's an absolute ton of fun. Killam is the perfect straight man playing against his team of oddballs, Moynihan is hilarious as the jovial demolition man, and Schwarzenegger has never been funnier. Action comedies are tough to pull off, but we've got to hand it to Killam — Killing Gunther is a blast. Sometimes, literally.

What other Arnold Schwarzenegger movies are on Netflix?

Already watched Killing Gunther from opening to closing credits and are now keen on an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie marathon? As the king of streaming, Netflix unsurprisingly has a few Schwarzenegger flicks on its shelves. 

Selections include Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the third installment in the Terminator film series that sees Schwarzenegger reprising his role as the T-800 "Model 101" Terminator. Sadly, the original Terminator from 1984 and its acclaimed 1991 follow-up Terminator 2: Judgment Day aren't currently available to stream on Netflix in the U.S. 

To make up for that, Netflix has in its library a more recent Schwarzenegger film: Aftermath, the Elliott Lester-directed thriller based on the people and events surrounding the 2002 tragedy in which a passenger airliner (Bashkirian Airlines Flight 2937) collided in mid-air with a cargo jet (DHL Flight 611) over the German town of Überlingen. In Aftermath, Schwarzenegger plays Roman Melnyk (based on Vitaly Kaloyev, a man who killed an air traffic controller after his family died in the Überlingen collision).

Netflix also has a documentary featuring Schwarzenegger: The Game Changers, which explores the positive effects athletes have experienced from eating a plant-based diet