Action Movie Fanatix Review: Hard Target

Hard Target banner

Don’t Hunt What You Can’t Kill.

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lance Henriksen, Yancy Butler, Wilford Brimley, Arnold Vosloo

Director: John Woo

1993  |  97 Minutes  |  Rated R

“Now take your pig-stick and your boyfriend, and find a bus to catch.” – Chance Boudreaux

Hard Target is definitely one of my favorite Van Damme films.  No surprise it also happens to be John Woo’s U.S. debut.  It’s one of those movies that I can just pop in the DVD player every so often and be completely entertained beginning to end.

Natasha Binder (Yancy Butler) arrives in New Orleans looking for her father who has recently become homeless.  She enlists Chance Boudreaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), a local who had previously come to her aid during an attempted mugging.  Together they uncover an organization that is selling the opportunity to hunt homeless men to those seeking the thrill of the hunt.

Jean-Claude Van Damme always does well.  Hard Target has some of the hardest hitting roundhouses that I have seen out of him.  The less we talk about his greasy mullet the better though.  John Woo makes sure to jam pack this movie full of awesome Van Damme moments.  From his / his mullet’s first appearance to him punching a snake out, Woo’s out to prove that this is the ultimate Van Damme.

You wouldn’t guess that Woo hadn’t directed in America prior to this.  He hits on some key patriotic themes including the opening which shows a vet who gets a crossbow dart through his back which then pierces his dog tags.  A powerful visual.  He also brings all the style that had become his signature in Hong Kong to Hard Target.  Of course the doves and dual handguns make an appearance.  Without a doubt, John Woo is one of the best action directors of all time.

Lance Henriksen and Arnold Vosloo make for a pretty killer (pun intended) bad guy pair.  Add to that the plethora of evil rich “sportsmen” who are hunting the hobos for the thrill of the hunt and you’ve got plenty of people deserving of Van Damme justice.

Last but most certainly not least is the beautiful Yancy Butler.  I always like Yancy Butler, there is just something about her that is really likable.  She is cute but not super model gorgeous or plastic looking.  It just makes her seem real.

Hard Target features some of the absolute best action set pieces.  There are so many to love but my favorite has to be when Van Damme round-house-kicks a guy right off his motorcycle.  The entire motorcycle sequence is just absolute gold.  Realistic?  No.  Awesome?  Absolutely!

Hard Target is without a doubt one of my favorite Van Damme movies of all time.  It might be #1, I can’t say for sure but that is saying something, the guy just does action right.  If for some crazy reason any of my readers has not yet seen Hard Target, it is a must that you track it down and watch it.  For those who have seen it, there are plenty of reasons I can think of to watch it again.

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