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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Typical of the absurd criticism comes the way of most any Van Damme film is
a reviewer I noticed below, who protractedly raves on paragraph after
paragraph about nothing more incidental than the credibility-challenging
motor cycle sequence. Jesus wept, what the hell does it matter whether such
is possible or not? Is the freeway chase in THE MATRIX or TERMINATOR 3
likely? We go to the movies primarily to be entertained....to take a step
into a world where reality takes a rain-check half the time! HARD TARGET is
right up there with Van Damme's best work, and yes he DOES work. Personally
I consider it his best film. Being Woo's first American outing, he
creatively put a lot into this. Although scaled down, I found it equally as
entertaining as FACE OFF, which like BROKEN ARROW, offered insane,
impossible but FUN action sequences.
HARD TARGET is a stylistic film that although admittedly ripped off from THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (but so too was THE RUNNING MAN and DOGBOYS) delivers some superb sequencies. Van Damme is NOT wooden, he's not one half-bad Cajun with a real bad attitude. Matter of fact, HARD TARGET succeeds because it has that one vital spark necessary to any worthwhile flick - interesting characters! Vosloo (Before THE MUMMY) is absolutely great as Henriksen's right hand man. A professional killer with no shred of decency. Er, thats what a killer is SUPPOSED to be! When he utters that line "Randall, Randall, Randall!" you just know that Randall is about to have a real bad day! Henriksen chews up the film as the soul-less Fouchon....he even goes out with class... "Oops!"
Yancy Butler is not one to ignore either. Spunky little thing who took her charisma to another level in DROP ZONE! And dear old Wilf Brimley as Chance's reliable and feisty Uncle. He almost steals the film.
If you don't like this one you're really hard to please and if you wanna complain about Van Damme's acting again? for God's sake go watch THE ENGLISH PATIENT.
Many people see "Jean-Claude Van Damme" in the lead and think this
another stupid, no-brainer action flick and guess what? It is! BUT, it
is also a very entertaining film, kind of ripoff of the old "Most
Dangerous Game" storyline....and, if you can suspend belief for 90-100
minutes, you'll be vastly entertained....and that's the name of the
Some of the action scenes are outrageous and big-time "Rambo" mentality, meaning an entire arsenal that could wipe out a small country is used against our hero and never seems to kill him! People are being shot in the streets but no is ever around in the middle of the day but the killers and victims? Usually that stuff annoys me, but I didn't seem to mind in this movie. In fact, it fits.
Despite the lack of credibility, Van Dame standing on top of a speeding motorcycle as it heads towards an onrushing car, and later dodging all kinds of pretty neat weapons as he tries to help Yancy Butler, is just fun. John Wood-directed films tend to be ridiculously exaggerated and loud, so that's what you get. I am not a fan of many of his films, but I am of this one. It's pure macho madness with a Lance Henriksen doing what he does best: be an incredibly-nasty and brutal villain. An added bonus in here - a real hoot - is old man Wilfred Brimley as Van Damme's French uncle who comes to his nephew's aid.
Add a great blues soundtrack and you have a great film to feed your male hormones with when needing to be fed some gratuitous violence.
John Woo's first u.s film is a hugely underrated hugely enjoyable action thriller beautiflly shot and bursting with style this is certainly Van Damme's best film and in my books is at the top of the action genre. It's a sort of updating of 1930's thriller The Most Dangerous Game. It centres around a women searching for her father in New Orleans who enlists the help of tough cajun chance boudreux i don't wanna say any more about the plot cos i don't wanna give to much away.this is the part of Van Damme's career when his acting wasn't too bad, the rest of the cast are mostly a solid bunch of unknowns who prove they've got what it takes to make this a tight well made thriller. Lance Henriksen is great as Fouchon and Arnold Vosloo equally as good as accomplice Van cleef. Even though in my opinion this is Woo's best u.s film it took him 2 more attempts to breakthrough into the Hollywood mainstream in which he finally struck gold with Face/Off. Hard Target comes out a dark action thriller packed with a superb blend of martial arts shootouts and explosions. I recommend this to any 1 weather your an action junkie, die hard van damme fan or just a general film buff. Up there with Die Hard this is a true action classic
Many people say that this film could be marked down as a cobweb in John
Woo's closet. It is far from this, but only if you see the full uncencored
version, which is available in the UK for people who own PAL video machines.
I think that this is John Woo's best American made work. Better than Face /
Off, which was well filmed but lacked the Woo stylised violence to keep your
interest up. But Hard Target has plenty. Certain people believe that the end
gunfight in the Mardi Gras graveyard is among Woo's best visually. The
flurry of quick bloody violence is overwhelmingly adrenaline pumping, Van
Damme pumps the bad guys with more bullets in 15 minutes than Desperado did
in two hours! The American Version is quite mediocre compared to the UK
version, the US version contains less violence and if you look in the goofs
section most of the stuff ups are due to the violence being edited out. I do
know where you can get your hands on a rough cut of the 116 minute version
but it is a bit of a waste of time, due to the fact that there is no colour
(except a greeny tone) and most of the 20 minutes extra are just talking.
If you think Van Damme is a bit of a let down, he isn't really. He may not be able to act, but Woo has made him look as cool as ever, seing Van Damme run around with two hand guns is cool, This movie runs on Van Dammes precence.
Give this film a chance, get the UK version for a better time.
I give this 5 outta 5.
John Woo rules the earth.
Now I'm a fan of all Woo films; even the worst of his works, such as "Broken
Arrow", are at least 'standard fare' in Hollywood-terms; this, however, does
not apply to the few sad TV-attempts he made (The "Once a thief"-cable flick
is just dreadful...).
"Face/Off" and even the 'funny' "M:I-2" are both action-packed showdowns
which demonstrate well what Woo can do. But his first Hollywood-attempt
still remains the best of them- at least, to date!
"Hard target" was shoot with very little time and then re-edited 7 times
(count'em- seven!) to finally pass the censorship (yes, I'd call it that!)
and STILL, after assumably at least half (?) the flavour taken out, it's
still one tough cookie!
Maybe frustrated at the censorship, Woo has later on stayed on the safe
R-rated waters in Hollywood, not even trying to top himself (And again,
STILL remaining the best bet when it comes to directing some serious
"Hard Target" puts Jean-Claude Van 'Damage' against one of the always trustworthy screen villains, Lance Henriksen, and his pack of urban-commando (all black outfits, combat vests and MP5's) goons, and that's all you need to know! IF you think the going gets a little boring on the way, wait for the final 20 minutes, which will give you an adrenaline rush worth your while!
BTW, if anyone knows where I could get my hands on the 116-minutes (any shorter will not do!) uncut "Director's cut", I'd be happy to buy a copy, preferably DVD (but also VHS will do; we're talking cult classic here!)
This is basically raw John Woo: bullets flying, fire blazing, good guys, bad
guys, this movie has the whole ball of wax! In Woo's 1st American flick,
Jean Claude Van Damme high-kicks and shoots as many baddies as he can trying
to find the killers of the father of Yancer Butler's character right in the
heart of the deep South.
Van Damme is as physically fit as ever. He sports a Kurt Russel-style hairdo in this movie, but his voice is as incoherent as always! His Belgium accent was really "hard" to understand, and it got to my nerves throughout the whole film!!
But, he busts up the good guys with real finesse. Arnold Vosloo and Lance Henrikson also light up the screen with their sleazy yet very believeable villain performances. The fight and shootout scenes in this film are amazing. Watching "Hard Target" was really a great experience, and it was worth the $2.10 rental! Watch the gunfight behind the wall between Van Damme and Vosloo. It might remind you of a good "Face/Off"!!
Right here and now I'll say this is Van Damme best movie and he picked the right director for it. It an action adventure about a team of killers are who paid to hunt by rich people. The movie is not action filled as the video box may tell you. But it does have enough to make your mouth water. If you know John Woo than you know that his films spread out the action and put space of acting between them. The acting is not top notch but it is believable. But what makes this movie is the action sequences. They have remnants of Woo's other movies like Broken Arrow, Hard Boiled, The Killer and the final scene looks like it was plucked straight out of Face/Off. You have to see it to believe it. Van Damme does his normal tough guy not talking much thing but it is great to see him with two pistols in his hands. It's a 7 for total movie but gets a 10 for action. Action movie junkies will love Hard Target. John Woo and Van Damme makes for great action.
John Woo, after striking gold in action cinema in Hong Kong, came to
Hollywood in the early 1990s in search of success here. His first film, Hard
Target, came out in 1993, to minimal critical and popular success. Many
criticized Woo, and it took him over 3 years to put out another movie,
Broken Arrow (1996). It wasn't all Woo's fault. For one, during filming,
Jean Claude Van Damme wouldn't listen to his directing. Yancy Butler once
said: "John would tell him to use the guns, but Jean would just go back to
kicking." Woo found interesting ways to counteract this, and invented a
awesome combo of martial arts and gunplay. Woo finished principle
photography, then the movie was edited and submitted to MPAA for rating. The
movie was issued a NC-17. Woo wasn't happy, but agreed to trim down some of
the violence, and that he did. The movie was reissued, but still not
refused. Universal Studios then took the film, cut it themselves, not trying
to fight the MPAA, and released it. Some violence was trimmed (more arrow
hits in Binder's death and some people being shot more than shown), and a
sex scene was removed as well. The movie is still Jean Claude's best and one
of Woo's best. The martial arts scenes are excellent, as is the gunplay.
Jean Claude has one of the greatest stunts in history involving a truck, a
motorcycle, and a flip. As for the plot, nothing special, just a new version
of "The Most Dangerous Game." Good acting from Van Damme (!), Butler, and
Lance H. make it easier to swallow as well. All in all, it gets
Seven outta Ten.
P.S. Here's to hoping they release a director's cut DVD!
I believe at this point in time that John Woo, should either change his
Asian-dance number in every movie he makes and every single fight
sequence!! Today! Take on a new and different approach. If you don't
know what that means, John studied Dance, the flowing Asian style
dancing and has used it, (I guess like football players study Ballet)
using it in the shoot-outs and fighting scenes to add an element of
grace and flowing movement to the stories's scene.
Thank God, that he didn't do the camera-shot over kill thing with the story and the shoot-out confrontation scenes in this. But as for this action story, I was all for this one! I truly enjoyed all the characters right down to the 'crooked' medical examiner, with the stress related nervous cough. The sleaze-bag o peddler, getting homeless to distribute his business sleazoid 900 number pamphlets, door to door no less.
It won and award and was nominated 5 more times! I liked Chance Boudreaux (Jean-Claude) in this New Oleans feature, he really came through. Next to the movie that a late friend of mine wrote (TIMECOP 1994) this has got to be the most powerfully enjoyable bang-up Van Damme movie, that exists, I say.
The area is questionable and dirty, some of it's residents are seedy in operation, yet there is a certain beauty that surrounds them in Oleans.
Bravo for the cast of outstanding players, Henrikson as the primary villain, I loved that about this movie, he plays the piano in the movie beautifully, for real, on reel. Mr. Vasloo before 'Titanic' he is a great villain partner, who is agile and deadly. The chase is on and they are all scrambling to stay alive and out of destruction's pathway. The accent from Van Damme, which is always with him, was an irreplaceable addition, to the taste and the culture of the country there. The music, yeah, it was the right music for the job! Playin' C.C.R how ya not gonna love that, when you're all the way down there? Jean Claude had just come into his-'own'acting craft style but, did not seem to go on above it too far after 'Hard Target' was made. His career seemed to settle down not too many years after as well. Although he is still making movies, some aren't bad either. He is a decent action hero, that can do different roles, with a good but limited ability.
But for this Woo film, I am applauding his best efforts, he stayed on a strong course with it, fine, fine actors and a good and gritty dirt in your teeth type of story, that brought Wilford Brimley as the wilderness 'Uncle' . The uncle with the explosives! Where was he when I was growing up? I could have really used em'. I rated this one highly, and recommend it as a great kicker of a fast paced manic action movie! Four kicks!!!! (****)
Jean Claude Van Damme has many, many and many action films all in all...but
none of them comes close to the art, fast-pace, intensity and entertainment
of Hard Target. And the factor behind these? John Woo! John Woo has proven
himself the answer on providing greatness to Van Damme, and it's obvious
that Van Damme's films that followed, simply lacked goodness.
With Woo on the helm, we get to see Van Damme doing those Woo signature-action like double-gun firing, action slow-mo, dangerous stunts, revealing views, and the back-to-back 2 side camera view...you name it. Van Damme himself said that this was the most creative action film he's ever done, and you'll see why.
Regarding the story, the plot seemed simple on paper but John Woo added twists and gimmicks to transform the simplicity into interest. The cast is highlighted by Lance Henriksen's role as the bad boss, and he adds quality acting and voice to this film. Yancy Butler however, does not make a good lead lady here, and I always thought of other actresses replacing her.
John Woo's action scenes are very defined here, and thanks to those slow-mo scenes, you get to see Van Damme REALLY HIT HIS ENEMIES...as opposed to seeing him move too fast in other films, which made you wonder if his kicks were real or not. In addition, he did some dangerous stunts on his own, which adds authencity to his action figurre.
Van Damme needs to team up again with Woo. The films that followed this were simply lacking of quality (The Quest) or lousy (Double Team). It's easy to realize that Hard Target is more of a John Woo-film than a Van Damme-film. Van Damme, in my opinion, is better-off with Woo as director simply because his best is brought out. Since this film is Woo's US debut, this film is like a preview of things to come...meaning Broken Arrow, Face/Off and the ongoing blockbuster Mission Impossible II! You'll really see how far Woo went from this debut.
Definitely worth watching! Hard Target is not John Woo's best, but it's Van Damme's best film ever! This is where you see Van Damme in his greatest action, and thank Woo for that!
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