"Bad script, good opening, bad middle, bad end"
Hard Target (1993)
Director: John Woo
Producer: Terence Chang. (co-producer), Sean Daniel, Moshe Diamant (executive), James Jacks, Daryl Kass (line) Chuck Pfarrer (co-producer), Sam Raimi, Robert G. Tapert (executive), Eugene Van Varenberg (associate)
Writer: Chuck Pfarrer
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lance Henriksen, Yancy Butler, Wilford Brimley, Douglas Forsythe Rye
Running Time: UK:97 / Australia:96 / Japan:100 / Norway:95 / Spain:97
Plot: Van Damme is the target of an evil mercenary (Lance Henriksen) who recruits homeless combat veterans for the "amusement" of his clients - bored tycoons who will pay a half a million dollars to stalk and kill the most challenging prey of them all: Man.
AMERICAN NINJA'S REVIEW: Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a sailor who probes the disappearance of a homeless man, who ends up getting more than he bargained for when a group is hunting men for sport. I liked this movie and despite what many HK fanboys say, this movie is still pretty good. Hard Target delivers excellent action scenes that will excite even the most critical. The film starts at a breakneck pace with useless subplots and howlingly awful melodrama but when Hard Target hits it's stride, it doesn't quit. The action is nicely done and the style is great.Bottomline: Might disappoint a few HK fans but HT is still very much worth a look.
AMERICAN NINJA'S RATING: 7/10
YATE'S REVIEW: I'm sorry, but this movie just wasn't that good. I don't care if John Woo (one of my fave. directors) directed this movie, it still sucks. Sure it is chopped up by the studios etc., etc. The movie is utterly ridiculous. I mean, what was up with those empty streets, among other things. And, oh man was this bad, Wilmford Brimley as his Uncle. Why in the hell was he in this movie? He abso-fucking-lutely ruined it for me. The action is great, but I prefer action to have something behind it. In a Better Tomorrow, when Ho shoots Shing, there is a reason behind it. Even when directed by John Woo, American movies to often put action in just for the sake of putting action in. The action in HK films is just about always used to further the plot or establish the charactors. Just because John Woo's signature touches are present in the film dosen't make this a John Woo film. If only Woo had written the script.......
YATE'S RATING: 5/10
BENTLEY SIU-LUNG'S REVIEW: Condidering this being Woo's first time directing a US film, I thought it was great! I first saw it at the theaters in 1993 when I was only eight. (I'm allowed to watch anything! I saw Bruce Lee and Shaw Bros. movies on TV when I was like one!). At that time, I had no knowledge of John Woo/ "Heroic Bloodshed"/ Chow Yun-Fat or any of that stuff!!! Even though there wasn't much martial arts as usual in a Van-Damme flick, the action and dialouge was great. (I cannot dance, but, I can get up.) When I finally got the internet, I discovered an uncut "workprint" version. I was scratching my head when I saw "workprint". I found out that it's an early version of a film which usually contains extra footage. I got the pleasure of seeing this working print. I finally got it summer of '99 when I was 14, it was worth the wait! This version makes the theatrical version seem shitty! Any time someone gets shot, a stream of blood comes flying out like a half a mile! Also, there's "fade editing" in the last scene when Van-Damme jump kicks Henriksen which looks pretty kick-ass. There's also a new music score, (actually, it's stuff from "Dragon", "Terminator 2", and "Total Recall" and some other movies. Even though they're from other movies, it's still a better track.) slightly different editing, and undubbed voices. (the way they sounded during filming. Like the way Henriksen pronounces the name Binder.) If those who thought this movie sucked haven't seen this, they haven't seen the whole movie. Only watch the R version for the Van-Damme/Henriksen finale, which was added after the workprint was shown. Other, than that, FIND THE WORKPRINT!!!
BENTLEY SIU-LUNG'S RATINGS: 8.5/10 (R-VERSION); 10/10 (NC-17 VERSION)
S!DM'S REVIEW: Director John Woo must have felt bad for Van Damme, and maybe that's why he directed this movie. It has good direction by Woo, as usual, but what kind of actors and plot did they give him? Watching the movie is like going into a cardboard people cutouts warehouse! Horrible! Aside from that, though, Woo was forced to unnecessarily cut scenes of violence, that in my opinion, ruined the whole pacing of the movie. And let me tell you, if this movie was directed 4 years later (Face/Off), the producers would have kept the violence and it still wouldn't have gotten an NC-17 rating. Van Damme is disappointing here. He gets one good fight scene with a bunch of talentless thugs, and that's the highlight of the movie. He just walks around with the trench-coat on and talks tough. John directs him like an Anime hero, complete with rapid zooming in and out, slow motion while Jean-Claude turns around, the typical. Bad script, good opening, bad middle, bad end. Unless you like John's visual flair, watch once, shampoo, rinse. Do not repeat. Everyone cut this film to pieces. Will it help to say that even Van Damme edited it?
S!DM'S RATING: 6/10