Saturday, October 31, 2015

Hard Target

This movie has Jean-Claude Van Damme punching a snake and Wilford Brimley, while sporting a Cajun accent, shooting arrows into people. More than 20 years after its release Hard Target feels every bit the B-movie early 1990s action flick it is. Notable for teaming up action star Van Damme (as an out-of-work Cajun soldier in Louisiana) and director John Woo (in his first American film) the film delivers audiences stunts, action sequences, and the large number of wide-eyed reaction shots from co-star Yancy Butler looking directly into the camera.

The story brings Natasha (Butler) to New Orleans in search of her missing father, a homeless veteran who was recrutied by a group of demented sprotsmen (Lance Henriksen, Arnold Vosloo, and others) who enjoy hunting humans for sport. A chance meeting, so to speak, with Chance Boudreaux (Van Damme), who is in need of some quick cash to get back to sea, leads the pair to team-up to investigate what really happened to the woman's father and track down those responsible.

Hard Target a passable Van Damme action flick but, like several of Woo's films from the same period, it hasn't aged all that well in 22 years. I know some believe it's Van Damme's best but I'd rank it behind Timecop and the equally ridiculous, but inherently more fun, Double Impact. The simple script provides plenty of action but there are head-scratching inconsistencies throughout (such as the streets of New Orleans being completely abandoned in every shot except those where extras are explicitly required to interact with the film's stars and the complete absence of any of police when armed men shoot up Bourbon Street in broad daylight). Released on its own for the first time on Blu-ray, the film includes no extras except for the original trailer and a UV digital copy of the movie.

[Universal Studios, $19.98]

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