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Why Van Damme’s ‘Hard Target’ is a Cheesy, But Great Movie

It’s a 90s action packed cheesy thrill-fest

After our recent post of the 10 Greatest Mullets in Pop Culture it made me feel all nostalgic for the Van-Damme/John Woo collaboration ‘Hard Target.’

I was thrilled to see it was on TV the other night so I decided to give the movie another go. I hadn’t seen the film for quite a while and was very surprised at how 90’s this film is. That is not necessarily a bad thing!

The first thing you notice in the film is obviously Van-Damme’s mullet and the fact that he is wearing all denim too. If you have seen the Coors Light commercials that feature Van-Damme then you will instantly recognise the character he is parodying.

What’s the film about?

Chance Boudreaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), plays a sailor who is skilled in martial arts (obviously). He is employed to guard Natasha Binder (Yancy Butler) while she is trying to track down her father, an itinerant Vietnam veteran living in New Orleans named Douglas (Chuck Pfarrer). They soon uncover a sinister group of wealthy men who like to hunt homeless people for sport, paying them $10,000 if they can survive a crosstown journey to the river. When Chance discovers that Natasha’s father was one of their victims, he decides to destroy the asshole hunters Van Damme style, yeah! The screenplay was actually written by Chuck Pfarrer, who also stars in the film and is based on the 1932 film adaptation of Richard Connell’s 1924 short story “The Most Dangerous Game”.

Who’s in it?

The film was directed by John Woo who is known for his slow-motion action sequences made famous in Chinese action movies Hard Boiled and A Better Tomorrow. Hard Target was Woo’s first American film and was also the first major Hollywood film made by a Chinese director. The film Also stars ‘Aliens’ star Lance Henrikson, Yancy ‘Drop Zone’ Butler, Arnold ‘The Mummy’ Vosloo and Wilfred Brimley from the Cocoon movies.

Here is a list of things I noted about this movie…

The Slow-Motion

I don’t know if it is just me, but the action scenes start to get annoying after a while because they go into slow-motion repeat all the time. These scenes may have looked great back in the 90s with this style of action scene peaking with The Matrix, but now it looks really dated. They probably also add 5 minutes to the films overall running time too!

The Mullet

Okay, I know the movie is set in 1993 in the deep south, but come on!

The Natasha and Her Dad

Natasha (Yancy Butler) decided to go visit her dad out of the blue after 20 years of not seeing him and just happens to turn up a day after he was murdered. This is the father who had just lost his job, but was so desperate after just a couple of weeks that he decided to play the human hunting game with a bunch of rich gun-toting assholes, rather than find another job!

Lack of Police or Authority

There only seems to be one cop in the whole of New Orleans and even she can’t be arsed to investigate at the start. When she does get her ass in gear she gets shot and killed straight away.

Pik Van Cleef

Pik Van Cleef (Arnold Vosloo) brings a bit of cool to the role and is actually the standout character in the film. He’s pretty sadistic and cold-hearted, especially when he’s cutting off people’s ear lobes. His reaction when he sticks that rifle in that car and blows Randall Poe’s head off is brutal. But that South African accent starts to grate after a while and sound like somebody trying to speak British backwards and then playing it forward. I can see why he doesn’t speak much if at all in The Mummy films!

Crime Scene

Boudreaux seems to just be able to walk straight into the crime scene where Binder’s body was burned and happens to find the most valuable piece of evidence there is, which the inept police seemed to have not found at all.

Bike Scene

This is one of the best scenes in the movie. It has to be seen to be believed, but Van Damme rides straight at an SUV packed with gun-toting bad guys, stands straight up on the seat like he’s surfing and then jumps over the vehicle when it hits his bike. He lands, rolls over and then shoots back at the SUV and it blows up. It’s pure OTT bollocks, but it makes me smile.

Going back to the Lack of Police again, this scene goes on for miles and miles throughout New Orleans without any more police presence. Even after they have killed a cop earlier in broad daylight.

Uncle Douvee and his Moonshine

Douvee (Wilfred Brimley) is Boudreaux’s uncle who happens to live way out in the bayou. When we first see Douvee he is outside in the open making moonshine. Yes, making moonshine outside in the open for everybody to see, he really must give zero f**ks!

The Snake Scene

In this scene Boudreaux knocks-out a rattle snake by punching it in the face. Yes, he punches a Goddamn snake out. He then sets up the snake as some kind of clever hunting trap, which actually works perfectly!

$750,000 a Go

After all the chaos and carnage they have caused in the city you’d think that Fouchon (Lance Henrikson) and his men would want to get the hell out of there. Instead like the relentless safari hunter from Jumanji, he decides to have one final hunt with Boudreaux as the target. Fouchon sets the price at $750,000 a head to hunt and kill Boudreaux, but the hunters appear to be a bunch of slack-jawed yokels. Where the hell do they get that kind of money from to waste on a hunt?

Inept Henchmen

Throughout the film Fouchon is always shouting and moaning at his inept henchmen. In one of the scenes he trips one up and then throws him because he is so pissed off at their incapability to kill Boudreaux.

Even though the henchmen besides Pik are shit at their jobs, one of them does utter the memorable line of “Tell your girlfriend to point her tits north and get the hell out-of-town”. It’s like something straight out of Shakespeare!

That Guys Shirt

Holy F**k where did he get that shirt from? TK Maxx?

Helicopter Scene

Pik Van Cleef is riding in the bad guy company helicopter when he is chasing Boudreaux who’s now on horseback. For some reason Van Cleef and the other henchmen cannot shoot for shit, but Boudreaux manages to shoot them successfully on horseback with a shotgun!

Petrol Can Bike Scene

While we arrive at the Mardi Gras graveyard, one of Fouchon’s motorbike morons gets distracted by a pigeon shitting on his head. We then pan down to Boudreaux who quotes the words “Hey Pigeon”, kicks a petrol can into the air towards the biker and shoots it with his shot-gun, which blows the guy and his bike smashing through the windows!

The Pigeon

There is a scene where there’s a pigeon on Boudreaux’s shoulder, it’s just so random!

Face Wobble

There’s a memorable scene where Boudreaux kicks a guy in the head and we see in slow motion his fat little face wobble.

Are Fouchon and Van Cleef lovers?

We will never know!

Fouchon’s Gun

Fouchon carries around some small barreled antique rifle, which he seems to rest on his non-dominant arm whenever he fires it looking like a total douchebag in the process. Just fire the Goddamn gun!

When Fouchon Gets Shot

When Boudreaux finally shoots Fouchon with his shotgun he literally flies backwards at huge force and should be really quite dead, but instead seems to get straight back up and run off.

Burning Wood

Holding a piece of wood that is in engulfed in flames usually equals a lot of pain, but for some reason Boudreaux doesn’t feel anything, but does a really great over the head round house kick to smash it.

Forgets How To Punch

In this scene Fouchon literally forgets how is arms work and thumbles around while Boudreaux is holding him.

The Grenade

Boudreaux throws the grenade he acquired from Van Cleef earlier down Fouchon’s trousers, and then headbutts him away. Fouchon then grabs the grenade out and for some reason tries to dismantle it instead of just throwing it away. He obviously gets blown up and it’s game over!

Final word…

A double-thumbs up!

  • It’s cheesy and over the top, but in a good way!
  • Van Damme’s martial arts skills never fail to impress.
  • It’s got Van Damme with a pigeon on his shoulder!

Written by Jay

A caffeine based life form. Current Editor-in-Chief here at Joyenergizer.

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