New On Blu-Ray: Hard Target (1993)
August 10, 2013
Jean Claude Van Dammestars as Chance Boudreaux, a man who is hired by a woman (Yancy Butler) to find her missing father. He soon finds himself in a war with a local businessman (Lance Henriksen) who allow rich guys to hunt the most dangerous game. Director John Woo's Hollywood debut.
Full disclosure: Legendary Chinese direction John Woo’s underrated 1993 endeavor Hard Target is one of my all-time favorite action flicks. Woo’s blend of Hong Kong action and cheesy Van Dammage is as entertaining as it is violent, a rarity in this day and age. My love of this movie could explain my current obsession with over-the-top action cinema. I could watch it on a loop.
If you didn’t enjoy the movie the first time around, then the recently-released Blu-ray probably won’t change your mind about it. Although Woo’s Hollywood debut hasn’t aged poorly, it definitely feels like something crafted during the 90s. However, one shouldn’t take that statement as criticism.
Jean-Claude Van Damme gives one of his most memorable performances in Hard Target. The guy’s sleepy expression and terrible Cajun accent are weirdly charming, making for some great moments where Van Damme appears oblivious to the dialogue he’s spewing. The mullet exists in a world all its own.
The Blu-ray presentation is quite good. The image is sharp, vibrant, and colorful while the sound is crisp and very clear. Those who have invested in a good sound system are in for a treatment. My setup is definitely less than impressive, but it gets the job done. This is probably for the best since I doubt my neighbors wouldn’t appreciate the endless gunfire and dodgy one-liners.
The region-free Blu-ray release contains the unedited version of John Woo’s English-language debut. It’s not the longer director’s cut or the two-hour extended edition, but it features a lot more violence throughout. I’m happy with the presentation; this cut sits proudly next to my unrated copy of Robocop.
Simply put: Hard Target is a wonderful action movie. It may not be on-par with Woo’s early Chinese output, but the film is entertaining in its own weird way. And while it probably won’t change your mind about the movie or Jean-Claude Van Damme, the Blu-ray will make old fans fall in love all over again. If you still collect packaged media, then it’s definitely worth picking it up.
Jean-Claude Van Damme