Friday Fisticuffs: Hard Target (1993)

One of the problems I run into with Friday Fisticuffs isn’t finding a movie to watch–Netflix is filled with flicks of dudes punching and kicking each other–but actually finding the time to write about said movies on their designated day. I do a lot of blog writing at night, but I’m getting a little tired of being on the computer all day, every day, so I’m cutting back a little. Plus, on Fridays, after getting work done, the last thing I want to do is write about anything on my laptop. But, I figure, the intent is still there, so this will be a Monday installment of Friday Fisticuffs.

Last Friday I checked out Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Hard Target–directed by John Woo, his first American picture–for the second time. The first was a few years back when I was living with my pal Rickey and we would watch all kinds of JCVD movies. I had seen a few here and there, mostly on TV, but he was a longtime fan and watching them with him was a treat, like getting second nostalgia. I actually wish he had been around last week when I viewed this movie again because it’s not so good and another set of eyes and jokes would have been fun.

In the movie, Yancy Butler, who was at one time poised to be the next big lady action star, is looking for her dad and wants JCVD to help her find him. As these things go, they run afoul of some pretty bad dudes, lead by the always enjoyable Lance Henriksen. Arnold Vosloo and Wilfred Brimley also show up for various parts.

So, the cast is mostly good or at the very least fun to watch and action is okay. You’ve got a lot of Woo’s obvious fallbacks on display here from doves to bullets blowing everything up. In fact, while watching I realized that this movie could spawn a two hour Mythbusters special, which is something I would have absolutely no problem with. Can a guy really kick another guy off of a moving motorcycle like that? Can you punch a snake unconscious? Do all those things really blow up like that? You get the idea.

The action scenes themselves are alright, but not great. Woo’s style sometimes gets in the way of things feeling and looking real. if I’m wondering if doves or pigeons really live in barns in the bayou, I’m distracted from a guy about to get a foot to the face. I almost called this post Friday Footsticuffs, but thought that sounded a little to clunky. Most of JCVD’s fighting is of the round house variety with lots of gunplay as well, which isn’t really what I’m looking for when it comes to FF. There were enough scenes of just straight up ass and face kicking that I allowed it as an entry.

At the end of the day, Hard Target‘s what you’d expect from an early 90s action movie starring Van Damme and directed by John Woo. There aren’t a lot of surprises to be discovered or revelations to be witnessed, but it’s a fun, campy flick that probably didn’t intend to be either of those things in the making.

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2 thoughts on “Friday Fisticuffs: Hard Target (1993)

  1. Hard target reviews are popping up everywhere just now – feel like I’m missing out not seeing it.
    I’d recommend ‘Flashpoint’ starring Donnie Yen if you’ve not seen it already. Probably my favourite action scenes in any movie.

    1. Flashpoint’s pretty good, I’ve seen it a couple times. In the past few years I’ve become a really big fan of Thai martial arts flicks. That seems to be where it’s at as far as fast-paced, impressive, real looking fight scenes go.

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