Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Hard Target

Hard Target
Jean Claude Van Damme, Lance Henrickson, Yancy Butler and Wilfred Brimley

Rated: R for language and violence.
Reviewed by: Chris  
Release date: August 20, 1993 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.

Boy, are fans of adventure flicks in for a treat with Jean Claude Van Damme's newest - it's nonstop thrills.

Hong Kong action director John Woo (The Killer) directs his firs American film with great results.

The excitement begins with opening shots of a bearded, out-of-breath man running through swamps with a band of men riding motorcycles chasing after him. They hit him from behind, wait until he pulls himself up and the deadly pursuit continues, until he's shot in the back of the neck with a steel arrow.

The gang is a group of millionaires who pay big bucks to Fouchon (Lance Henrickson) for arranging a human hunt. They use homeless veterans for their prey, because they have no one to care if they're missing and their military training offers more sport. However, this particular vet had a daughter (Yancy Butler) who hires Chance (Van Damme), and unemployed merchant marine who knows the bayous of New Orleans, to help her find her missing father.

When Fouchon has an initial run in with Chance, he realizes that this guy could be his and his cronies most challenging hunt, and the rest of the film is on spectacular near-miss after another. By escaping by horseback, motorcycle and his knowledge of the area, Chance give these guys a run for their money.

Unfortunately, Chance is addled with the girl, who is wide-eyed and pretty, but an unbelievably bad actress. Also, to help-out, is Wilfred Brimley, Chance's uncle, who has a strange Cajun accent. He is a fun addition; and old codger with a backyard still and a deft aim with his bow and arrow.

Van Damme mixes ballet movements and acrobatics with smashes to his opponent's face, joints and whatever else gets in the way with his flying feet. Woo uses slow motion frequently, so the audience doesn't miss a blow.

Chance is hunted by helicopter, on motorcycle and horseback, narrowly escaping every conceivable weapon - hand-held or driven. He leaps over explosions and back-flips jus t before a whizzing arrow targets him. The action is fast and furious, a violent, modern Wester.

Henrickson has made a nice living out of being the bad guy (Alien and Johnny Handsome to name a couple) and only Van Damme can move so gracefully and look so deadly. Together with Woo's stylized direction, they're a match made in action heaven.

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Hard Target     A                     A 

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