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Jake Van Dorn is a businessman from the American heartland who shares strong Calvinist convictions with most of his countrymen. His teenage daughter is missing from her church youth convention trip to California and Van Dorn hires a private investigator to find her. The result of the investigation is his daughter is spotted in a cheap X-rated movie. Van Dorn decides to bring her back personally and during the quest he becomes familiar with the pornographic underworld. Written by
Dragan Antulov <email@example.com>
The movie is about pornography but is not a pornographic movie. The film features no actual "hardcore sex" footage but rather such scenes are only ever discreetly implied or suggested and never indiscreetly nor shockingly depicted. See more »
Panties suddenly appear on Niki's fully nude body in the peep booth. This goof is seen on old video and cable un-matted versions. (On DVD, the portion showing that Nikki has panties is properly cropped out and doesn't show.) See more »
So I guess we're both fucked, huh? Least you get to go to heaven. I don't get shit.
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In the end, it really is just a piece of exploitation.
Writer/Director Paul Schrader struck gold more than once in the 1970s; Taxi Driver being his best work as writer. Maybe if Scorcese had directed Hardcore, then it might have turned out better. Hardcore is the story of an honest and God-fearing businessman from Michigan whose teenage daughter inexplicably runs away from a church field trip to California and joins the porn industry. George C. Scott plays Jake Van Dorn, the businessman who now finds himself in the middle of the seediest parts of L.A. desperately trying to rescue his daughter from the new world she has either chosen or been pulled into against her will. Jake Van Dorn is hopelessly out of touch with how the porn industry works, and with the help of a sleazy private detective (Boyle) and an "industry girl" (Hubley), he plows ahead through the sea of sludge to hopefully track his daughter down.
One would think that The Searchers would be the motivation for this story to some degree. Scott, who did not get along with Schrader during filming, gives as much dignity to the project as he can muster. But the seedy locations, and ridiculous characters ultimately win out as Hardcore becomes a study in exploitation. There are gobs of nudity at every turn. This film probably was very close to getting an X rating back when it came out. There are parts of this script that try to bridge the gap between porn and religion, but this is just too big of a gap to overcome.
Some scenes are unintentionally hilarious. In one, Scott is posing as a porn producer and he brings several potential actors into his hotel room in a fake casting call. One of them calls himself "Jism Jim"!!! He apparently was in a film with Scott's daughter, and Scott beats the heck out of him once he recognizes the guy. But not until after the creep describes how bad Scott's daughter was at giving oral sex! Another potential actor is played by Hal Williams who you may recognize as the Sgt from Private Benjamin. He is known as "Big Dick Blaque"!! HA HA!! He goes on for almost a full minute describing his sexual prowess in explicit detail... the whole time, Scott is wearing a sleazy wig and fake mustache for his disguise! The scene is just a micro chasm of the film. It's just too sleazy to be taken seriously. Another major problem deals with the daughter's motivation for joining the porn industry. It is never convincingly explained, and her lack of screen time only adds to the mystery. Her scene with her father toward the conclusion really isn't as compelling as it should have been.
Overall, the film is worth a look for curiosity purposes only. Scott is as watchable as ever, but even his best scenes border on overacting. Schrader's mind has produced many, many better things than this. 5 of 10 stars.
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