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Hard Target (1993)

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A woman hires a drifter as her guide through New Orleans in search of her father, who has gone missing. They discover a deadly game of cat and mouse behind his disappearance in the process.


John Woo


Chuck Pfarrer
1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Chuck Pfarrer ... Douglas Binder
Robert Apisa Robert Apisa ... Mr. Lopacki (as Bob Apisa)
Arnold Vosloo ... Pik van Cleef
Lance Henriksen ... Emil Fouchon
Douglas Rye Douglas Rye ... Frick (as Douglas Forsythe Rye)
Mike Leinert Mike Leinert ... Frack (as Michael D. Leinert)
Yancy Butler ... Natasha 'Nat' Binder
Lenore Banks ... Marie
Willie C. Carpenter ... Elijah Roper (as Willie Carpenter)
Jean-Claude Van Damme ... Chance Boudreaux
Barbara Tasker Barbara Tasker ... Waitress
Kasi Lemmons ... Det. Marie Mitchell
Randy Cheramie Randy Cheramie ... Shop Steward
Eliott Keener Eliott Keener ... Randal Poe
Robert Pavlovich ... Detective


Natasha Binder comes to New Orleans looking for her father, who has gone missing. In doing so, she meets a very hard man called Chance. He helps her find out that her father was killed by an organisation who sell the opportunity to hunt human prey. They are taking advantage of a police strike in New Orleans. Will the Muscles from Brussels win through? Written by John Hartnup <hartnupj@cs.aston.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Catch him if you can. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a great amount of strong violence, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | French

Release Date:

20 August 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hard Target See more »

Filming Locations:

White Castle, Louisiana, USA See more »


Box Office


$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,106,500, 20 August 1993

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (cut) | (unrated) | (Workprint Version)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (4 channels)| DTS



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In an interview, Lance Henriksen recalled how when he asked John Woo how to approach his character's motivation at the end of the film, Woo told him to think about what someone would be like who enjoyed taking advantage of the weak and vulnerable. Henriksen said that was the only direction he gave him, and let Henriksen decide how big or small to play the role. Henriksen has said also said that the word "no" never came out of Woo's mouth. See more »


Thug's cap changes positions during first fight. In few shots it covers his ears, in other shots not. See more »


[first lines]
Douglas Binder: [trying to open a locked door] Please...
See more »

Alternate Versions

The international version is 99 minutes long and was the final version submitted to the MPAA for an R-rating, but was rated NC-17. It contains more violent footage not seen in the censored American R-rated version. It is three minutes longer than the R-rated version. These cuts consist of:
  • Binder trying to remove an arrow from his shoulder being replaced with an intercut shot of Van Cleef walking.
  • Binder killing two enemies with a gas canister is removed.
  • As Binder runs in the pier, the second arrow that hits him in the leg is removed, creating a continuity error.
  • Binder's corpse drifting downstream in the river is removed.
  • In the sequence where Boudreaux repeatedly shoots an enemy whilst holding the pistol upside down, the amount of gunfire went from around 35 gunshots to merely 15 gunshots. The deaths of two biker enemies were also removed entirely.
  • The closeup shot of an arrow protruding through an enemy's throat is removed, resuming on him falling to the ground.
  • The scene showing Natasha shooting a bearded enemy is partially obscured using an intercut shot of pigeons flying.
  • In the scene where Boudreaux is shooting an enemy whilst hanging from a rope, the bloodier entry and exit wounds were removed. Boudreaux's somersault is also removed.
  • When Douvee is shot in the leg, a closeup shot of his wound is replaced with a less explicit wide shot in the R version.
  • Immediately afterwards, Boudreaux shoots at two enemies with dual Berettas. In the R version, the amount of gunfire in the two kills are reduced.
  • In the scene that shows an enemy falling to the ground after being shot by Boudreaux, a large blood spurt is removed.
  • When Boudreaux shoots an enemy at the top of the stairs, the shots that show the enemy being riddled with bullets, tumbling down the stairs and falling onto the camera is removed.
  • In the face off between Boudreaux and Van Cleef, the amount of gunfire towards each other is slightly reduced. The amount of gunfire on the grenade-wielding enemy is also reduced. The amount of gunfire in the stomach and groin of another enemy is reduced.
  • During Van Cleef's death scene, the amount of impact shots towards Van Cleef's torso and the time that Van Cleef takes to die are reduced, removing the instance where Van Cleef pulls a grenade from his sling as he dies.
  • In the scene where the last enemy is killed by a shotgun blast, the sight of the blood spurts are removed.
  • In the scene where Fouchon is shot with a shotgun, the closeup shot of Fouchon's exit wound is removed.
  • In the scene where Fouchon is kicked in the chest by Boudreaux, the sight of the former spitting blood is removed.
See more »


Referenced in The Hunt for the House on Cuckoo Lane (2011) See more »


Walkin' Blues
Written by Son House (uncredited)
Performed by Eric Clapton
(Only in workprint version)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Potentially good
17 December 2010 | by crybabystinkypooSee all my reviews

HARD TARGET is a stylish, B-grade action/thriller directed by Hong Kong director John Woo (his first U.S. film).

Hard Target stars Jean Claude Van Damme as an ex-military loner named 'Chance' whose ordinary life as a merchant sailor is interrupted by 'Natasha' an attractive innocent (Yancy Butler) who's come to New Orleans to look for her father.

Unbeknownst to Natasha, her father (played by Hard Target's scriptwriter) became homeless and was enlisted by a group of ruthless entrepreneurs that organise human 'hunts' for the pleasure of privileged individuals.

Hard Target's first half has a certain amount of depth and social conscience (for an action film).

For instance, a homeless man 'Roper' (Willie C. Carpenter) is gunned down in public after no one will help him.

But Hard Target's second half (where it moves from the city to the swamps) degenerates, at times into downright silliness and has a rushed feel.

The finale in the abandoned warehouse filled with old Mardi Gras paraphernalia was meant to be somehow meaningful, but it's not; it's just a finale in an abandoned warehouse filled with old Mardi Gras paraphernalia.

Hard Target is a reworking of a much earlier film 'The Most Dangerous Game' (1932) about humans who kill humans for sport.

However, I believe Hard Target got ideas from the James Bond film 'Moonraker' (1979); check out the scene where Jaws chases Bond's contact through the streets of Rio de Janeiro.

Hard Target's scriptwriter (Chuck Pfarrer) probably thought no one would notice.

Although it doesn't excuse Hard Target's failings, Woo was reportedly forced to edit Hard Target because of the violence (and it was edited again by Universal Studios).

Hard Target was later released on DVD with most of the action and violence restored.

Hard Target's still not as violent as some of Woo's earlier Hong Kong efforts e.g. 'The Killer' (1989), 'Bullet in the Head' (1990) and 'Hardboiled' (1992).

And since Woo's action films rely on shoot'em ups which would be too violent for a mainstream U.S. film, Hard Target suffers accordingly.

Although Woo's vision may have been compromised and even with most of the action and violence restored, Hard Target's still at times pretty silly e.g. Chance swinging from ropes in the finale and Chance's hillbilly 'Uncle Douvey' (Wilford Brimley) doesn't help the situation either.

And the way some of the less important baddies wear black baseball hats as if they're there just there to be shot, beaten or blown up.

Also, there's this flimsy plot device about the New Orleans police department going on strike which head baddie 'Mr Fouchon' (Lance Henriksen) and his team use as their opportunity to conduct a hunt in New Orleans.

In Robocop (1987) the police strike was plausible because in that film the police had been taken over by a private corporation.

But in Hard Target, the police strike doesn't ring true.

Hard Target makes attempts at being topical e.g. Mr Fouchon refers to the war in Bosnia as an opportunity that allowed him and his men to conduct some previous hunts; therefore it would've been better if Hard Target had been more even toned and not allowed itself to mix violence with attempted humour.

Woo's next U.S. cinema release was the disappointing 'Broken Arrow' (1996) and then the overrated 'Face Off' (1997) followed by the box office flop 'Windtalkers' (2002) and the forgettable 'Paycheck' (2003) then back to China to make the epic 'Red Cliff' (2008).

Woo also continued his U.S. career directing a made for TV action flick 'Blackjack' (1998) starring Dolph Lundgren and a two hour pilot movie for the Canadian TV series 'Once a Thief' (1996) which was a reworking and Woo's same titled 1991 Hong Kong movie as well as producing 'The Replacement Killers' (1998) and 'The Big Hit' (1998).

Although Hard Target is marred by silliness and implausibility, it's first half has a certain depth.

That, coupled with it's polished look; it's style and some of it's action scenes, could lead you to believe you're watching something more than a B-grade action film.

If Hard Target had more thought put in and stayed within the confines of the city, it could have stood out as a solid memorable and hard-hitting action film.

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