Hard Target remains one of JCVD’s finest hours and Kino’s new Blu-ray is utterly essential for fans.
Plot: Homeless men are being hunted by elite big game hunters, but when they cross paths with a vagabond named Chance, they become the hunted!
“Let me review the tactical situation for you gentlemen. Boudreaux is wounded. He’s been pursued and harried across miles of open country. Now he’s cornered and outnumbered 20 to 1. He’s an annoying little fucking insect and I want him stepped on – hard!“
Review: Chance Boudreaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme with interesting looking hair extensions) is a drifter, looking for work after his military career ended badly. He’s been hanging around New Orleans, getting to know the lesser element very well, and when a despondent young woman named Natasha (Yancy Butler) comes looking for her father, who may have been homeless, he shows her around and escorts her (for a price) as protection as they look for him. When her father turns up dead, Chance catches on pretty quickly that he was murdered, and that there is a series of deaths of vagabond Vietnam vets going around. A band of mercenary-type hunters led by the suave and dignified Emil Fouchon (a sublime Lance Henriksen) give homeless vets the chance to run for their lives with a payday dangling at the end of the race, but the hunters always find their quarry at the end of a gun, arrow, or other weapon. When Chance gets himself in the sights of the hunters, the most dangerous game is on!
Director John Woo’s first big screen crossover in America, Hard Target is still his best movie that he made stateside, even when he had much bigger budgets for movies like Broken Arrow, Face/Off, and Windtalkers. His style is all over this fun movie, and it remains one of Van Damme’s best movies. The setting is cool, Van Damme plays it easy does it, and the action is pretty fantastic without being heavy handed, which is something so many of Woo’s Hong Kong pictures have trouble with. Graeme Revell’s score for this movie is almost iconic to me. Woo directed Black Jack with Dolph Lundgren around the same time.
Kino Lorber will be releasing Hard Target in its Unrated International Cut (John Woo’s preferred cut) on December 7th, and it will be available on standard Blu-ray and in 4K. This version is 100 minutes long (versus the 97 minute USA version), and it comes packed with tons of special features, including interview with Butler, Henriksen, Woo, the stunt coordinator, and an audio commentary by Mike Leeder and Brandon Bentley. This is a must-have purchase no matter how many times you’ve added this to your collection because this is the ultimate edition. Thank you, Kino Lorber!