Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Hard Target. So much fun.

Because I'm worth it
The mullet haircut is a much maligned one. It is ridiculous looking in fairness. But John Woo makes it look beautiful swishing around in slow motio........haha nah, i'm joking. It's the only bad thing about this film.

Hard Target is a slice of 90's action nirvana & John Woo's first American film.

Set in New Orleans. Someone is hunting homeless men for sport. Natasha Binder comes to town looking for her father who has disappeared. She has a lucky encounter with a man named Chance Boudreaux when he saves her from being robbed and assaulted. Chance is an out of work merchant seaman so she hires him in her search. They soon find themselves entangled in the darker side of The Big Easy and have to fight for their lives.

A brilliantly entertaining movie and one that cannot be taken seriously at all. It's more or less nonstop. Action scenes are John Woo's USP and the ones here are great. Clearly shot, easy to make out, no horrible shakey cam. Great characters too especially the baddies. You can't beat a real boo hiss baddy and the ones in this wouldn't be out of place in a pantomime. It's 90's through and through though. The clothes, the hair, the music, the 2 handed gunplay. It has dated but that doesn't stop it being fun. 

Nearly every actor chews the scenery like their lives depend on it. Jean Claude Van Damme as Chance is hilarious intentionally or not, His hair deserves it's own film. He appears through clouds of smoke and flocks of pigeons, moving in slow motion and as always kicking ass with serious conviction. Acting was never his strong point but who gives a shit when you can look believable diving through the air with a gun in each hand blasting baddies. Lance Henriksen and Arnold Vosloo are the baddies and they are brilliantly over the top. Henriksen is malice and hate personified and Vosloo as his South African henchman is awesome. The two drip with danger and make a pair of convincing foils for JCVD. You can't beat a South African baddie. You just love to hate them and you get a licence to kill them off horribly. Yancy Butler plays Natasha as the straight man but you actually do give a fig about her because hers is a family tale, she just wants her Da back. 

Don't ask
It certainly makes the most of it's New Orleans setting so much so that the city is like a main character in the film. Shootouts taking place on Bourbon street, chase scene in the city's famous cemeteries and the climax takes place in a storage unit in the swamps where Mardi Gras floats are kept. It gives the whole thing a superb atmosphere.

The climax of the film is immense. Pyrotechnics and bullets filling the screen. The mother of all shootouts. People getting shot 67 times and then kicked in the jaw for good measure. This guy bites the dust in amazing fashion. Grenades and arrows all over the shop. Breathless stuff that will make you laugh as much as drop your jaw.

It's a short film, under 100 minutes and I love short films but there's a 128 minute out there waiting to be released someday. And I'd love to see it. The original version was just too violent and had too much going on for American audiences of the day and had to be cut down. Someday. Fingers crossed

Don't insult the double denim
One of the things I love about these 90's action films is that when you watch them you are transported back to the time and the age you were when you first saw it. I saw this with Michael, Willem and David around 94 or so. The perfect age to enjoy this film. We loved it. The action, the one liners, the accents, I swear we spent the summer misquoting this film in awful Belgian and South African accents.Even now 23 years later if we bump into each other it's not long before someone mentions it "Why did your momma name you Chance?, Because she took one", "I'm gonna carve me a steak", "HEY PIGEON!", "Sorry about the shirt!" etc etc.

And the other reason this film holds a special place in my heart is because it introduced us to the wonders of John Woo. The Killer, Hard Boiled, Bullet In The Head, A Better Tomorrow etc and these paved the way for a love of Asian cinema that continues to this day. These films are still great now but imagine just how much they blew us away in the early 90's.

I love it. I never get bored of it. It's hilarious. A perfect beer and takeaway film. A film has to be doing something right if people still talk about it 2 decades later.

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