Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: R18
Jean-Claude Van Damme as Chance Boudreaux
Lance Henriksen as Emil Fouchon,
Arnold Vosloo as Pik Van Cleef
Yancy Butler as Natasha Binder
Wilford Brimley as Uncle Clarence Douvee
Director: John Woo
Chance, a destitute merchant seaman, agrees to aid Natasha in her search for her missing father. However, this puts him on the deadly trail of a killer whose victims are homeless men.
I knew of Hard Target with it being a John Woo movie, his first American movie in fact. It also starred Jean-Claude Van Damme, and I hadn’t seen many of his movies outside of Universal Soldier and The Expendables 2, so I was curious about it, and I had a lot of fun with it.
Hard Target is firmly a B movie, very over the top and is enjoyable as such. It has a lot of humour, cheesy one liners, and goofy moments like Van Damme punching a snake. The story is decent enough, with an interesting concept being about rich people paying to hunt people. In execution though, it’s a serviceable action plot. The story begins relatively slow but picks up the pace as it continues, culminating in a highly entertaining third act action climax.
Jean Claude Van Damme doesn’t give the best performance, but is still working at the right level for this movie. He’s charismatic and entertaining, especially with his stunts and action scenes. However, it’s the villains who stand out the most. Lance Henriksen is great as the main villain; he’s wonderfully over the top and is clearly having a blast here. Arnold Vosloo is also an effective henchman, and gets a lot out of his screentime.
John Woo definitely brings the over stylised visual flair that you’d expect from him, and you can immediately tell that it’s one of his movies. There’s some great and well shot action from the explosions, slow motion, to the shootouts and fighting scenes, and Van Damme’s martial art skills are spectacular to watch. The stunts are pretty impressive and the movie even uses a lot of practical elements. Despite being an American Woo movie, it doesn’t hold back on the violence. The third act is particularly an absolute blast.
Hard Target is a very fun and over the top B-movie, with some entertaining action, enjoyable cheesiness, solid villains in Lance Henriksen and Arnold Vosloo, and really good direction from John Woo. I definitely wouldn’t put it among his best movies (it’s no Hard Boiled or even Face/Off), but it’s nonetheless a fun movie.