Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lance Henriksen, Yancy Butler, Kasi Lemmons, Wilford Brimley, Ted Raimi
Written by: Chuck Pfarrer
Directed by: John Woo
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 97
Date: 08/20/1993
IMDB

Hard Target (1993)

3 Stars (out of 4)

The Thrill of the Chase

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

One of my greatest guilty pleasures, Hard Target provided a conundrum.It was John Woo's eagerly awaited American debut, but it was also thelatest in a series of silly Jean-Claude Van Damme films. Indeed, themovie has countless problems. Based loosely on the story "The MostDangerous Game," the movie introduces us to Emil Fouchon (LanceHenriksen), a New Orleans bad guy who charges people lots of money forthe privilege of hunting down homeless veterans. One such vet had adaughter, Natasha Binder (Yanci Butler), whom the bad guys didn't knowabout; she hires Chance Boudreaux (Van Damme) to help find her dad.Although she's very easy on the eyes, Butler "plays the entire moviewith a single expression on her face" (to quote Michael J. Weldon from"Psychotronic Video"). Van Damme has a ridiculous mullet-head haircutthat was outdated when the movie opened, not to mention Graeme Revell'sover-produced quasi-Cajun wailing guitar soundtrack. Even worse, WilfordBrimley shows up for no good reason with a fake Cajun-New Orleansaccent. But Woo makes a silk purse out of a sow's ear with hisgreat-looking, smooth, swooping action scenes. The camera moves with theaction, instead of against it, and the clean, crisp editing is superb.The shootout in the warehouse full of Mardi Gras floats is a winner, andWoo captures a palpable Louisiana atmosphere. SamRaimi and Terence Chang were among the many producers.

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