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Hard Target
Film poster with a gradient background fading from black to blue. In the middle is the head of an arrow with the character Chance's reflection in it. At the top of the poster is the name "Van Damme" in capital letters. At the bottom left corner is the film's title, production staff and cast and catch slogan stating "Don't Hurt What You Can't Kill".
Theatrical Release Poster
Directed by John Woo
Produced by James Jacks
Sean Daniel
Daryl Kass
Sam Raimi
Written by Chuck Pfarrer
Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme
Lance Henriksen
Yancy Butler
Arnold Vosloo
Wilford Brimley
Music by Graeme Revell
Cinematography Russell Carpenter
Editing by Bob Murawski
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) United States:
August 20, 1993 (1993-08-20)
United Kingdom:
October 1993 (1993-10)[1]
Running time 97 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $19.5 million[2]
Gross revenue $74,189,677

Hard Target is a 1993 American action film directed by Chinese director John Woo. The film stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as Chance Boudreaux, an out-of-work Cajun merchant seaman who saves a young woman, Natasha Binder (Yancy Butler), from a gang of thugs in New Orleans. Chance learns that Binder is searching for her missing father (Chuck Pfarrer), and agrees to aid Binder in her search. Boudreaux and Binder soon learn that Binder's father has died at the hands of wealthy sportsman Emil Fouchon who hunts homeless men as a form of recreation.

Hard Target was John Woo's first American film and was also the first major Hollywood film made by a Chinese director. Universal Pictures was nervous on having Woo direct a feature, and sent in director Sam Raimi to look over the film's production and to take Woo's place as director if he were to fail. Woo went through several scripts finding mostly martial arts films which he wasn't interested in. After deciding on Chuck Pfarrer's script for Hard Target, Woo wanted to have actor Kurt Russell in the lead role, but found Russell too busy with other projects. Woo then went with Universal's initial choice of having Jean-Claude Van Damme star. Woo got along with Van Damme during filming and raised the amount of action in the film as he knew that Van Damme was up for it.

After 65 days of filming in New Orleans, Woo had trouble with the Motion Picture Association of America to secure the R rating that Universal wanted. Woo made dozens of cuts to the film until the MPAA allowed it an R rating. On its initial release, Hard Target was a financial success but received mixed reviews from film critics. Critics found Hard Target to have good action scenes but noted the weak script and poor quality acting from Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Contents

Plot

In New Orleans, a homeless veteran named Douglas Binder (Chuck Pfarrer) is pursued and killed by mercenaries Stephan (Sven-Ole Thorsen) and Peterson (Jules Sylvester), led by Emil Fouchon (Lance Henriksen), and a businessman named Mr. Lopaki (Bob Apisa) who has paid $500,000 for the opportunity to hunt a human. Fouchon's lieutenant Pik van Cleaf (Arnold Vosloo) retrieves the dead man's belt, containing the money he would have won if he eluded the hunters. The next day, Binder's long-estranged daughter Natasha (Yancy Butler) is attacked by a group of thugs while searching for her father, but is saved by a homeless man named Chance Boudreaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) with considerable martial arts prowess. Chance is initially hesitant to involve himself, but as his merchant seaman union dues are in arrears he reluctantly allows Natasha to hire him as her guide and bodyguard during her search. Meanwhile, Chance's homeless friend Elijah Roper is also killed by Fouchon's hunting party after trying to get help from a pedestrian (Ted Raimi) to no avail.

Natasha discovers that her father distributed fliers for a seedy recruiter named Randal (Eliott Keener), who has been secretly supplying Fouchon with homeless men with war experience and no family ties to hunt. Van Cleaf watches as Natasha questions Randal in his office, and Fouchon is upset that Randal didn't follow his orders. New Orleans police officer Mitchell (Kasi Lemmons) is reluctant to investigate since Binder was homeless, until his charred body is discovered in a derelict house that went up in flames. Although the death is ruled accidental, Chance searches the ruins and finds Binder's dog tag that has been pierced by a crossbow projectile. Van Cleaf's thugs ambush Chance and beat him unconscious; when he recovers, he tells the police about the dog tag, prompting Mitchell to order a new autopsy. Unfortunately, the medical examiner is on Fouchon's payroll and tips him off about the investigation.

Van Cleaf and Fouchon decide to relocate their hunting business and begin eliminating "loose ends", including the medical examiner and Randal, who they murder outside his office. Mitchell, Natasha and Chance arrive moments later and are ambushed by Van Cleaf and several of his men. During the shootout Mitchell is shot and killed, while Chance and Natasha narrowly escape. As Fouchon and Van Cleaf assemble their mercenary team, Chance leads Natasha to his uncle Douvee's (Wilford Brimley) house deep in the bayou. Chance kills the mercenary gunman one by one, including Van Cleaf. In the end, only Fouchon is left, but he holds Chance at bay by taking Natasha hostage. Chance charges and attacks him with a flurry of blows and then detonates a grenade, killing him.

Cast

  • Jean-Claude Van Damme as Chance Boudreaux: An out of work Cajun merchant marine. After Boudreaux saves Natasha Binder, he is hired by her to help search for her missing father.
  • Lance Henriksen as Emil Fouchon: A wealthy sportsman who hunts homeless men as a form of recreation. After finding that he is being investigated by Chance and Natasha, Fouchon sends out his gang led by Pick Van Cleaf to ambush them.
  • Arnold Vosloo as Pik Van Cleaf: Van Cleaf is a collaborator of Fouchon who takes part in his sport of hunting men. He leads the crew of men who are sent out to murder Chance and Natasha. Van Cleaf's surname is a reference to actor Lee Van Cleef.[3]
  • Yancy Butler as Natasha "Nat" Binder: A young women who comes to New Orleans to search for her father who she hasn't seen since she was seven years old. When Natasha is attacked by thugs, she is saved by Chance Boudreaux who agrees to help her find him.
  • Kasi Lemmons as Carmine Mitchell: A detective at the police station who works in the office while the police are on strike. Mitchell helps Natasha by ordering another autopsy when they show her the pierced dog tags that her father had.
  • Chuck Pfarrer as Douglas Binder: The father of Natasha who has moved to New Orleans. After Natasha finds that three weeks have passed since she has heard from her father, she goes to New Orleans to find that he has been homeless and has been murdered by Emil Fouchon's crew.
  • Wilford Brimley as Uncle Douvee: Uncle Douvee is Chance Boudreaux's uncle who lives deep in the Bayou. Chance and Natasha take shelter at his home as well as have him help during the film's final shoot out.

Production

Development

After making Hard Boiled in Hong Kong, director John Woo decided to take an offer to work in the United States, where he would find himself happier as a filmmaker with a preferable work pace and working with more reasonable hours.[4] Woo was first offered this job in the United States from Universal Pictures chairman Tom Pollock after he had seen Woo's film The Killer.[5][6] Universal was not eager to have Woo direct an entire feature and only agreed after what producer James Jacks called a "difficult period of convincing".[6][7] Universal was worried about having an Asian director on set who had limited command of English on a large scale project. They hired American director Sam Raimi to oversee the film's production and to have him on standby if Woo was not able to fulfill his role as a director.[8] Raimi was very excited to work with Woo as he was fan of his Hong Kong films. Raimi was also confident in Woo's directorial skills, stating that "Woo at 70% is still going to blow away most American action directors working at 100%."[8]

On his arrival in the United States, Woo went through several scripts before deciding on Hard Target.[4] Describing the scripts he received, Woo stated that "Some of them were good - some of them were very good - but the rest were simply martial-arts movies and I told producers that I had no interest in doing those kinds of films anymore. I'd done a lot of them already".[9] One of the scripts offered to Woo at this period was for Face/Off, which he turned down at the time as Woo was turned off by the science fiction setting the script had.[9][10] Woo read Chuck Pfarrer's script for Hard Target appreciating that it was a "simple but powerful story, with a lot of feeling underneath. For a good action film you need a solid structure. Chuck gave me that".[11] Woo also stated that the story is "less John Woo" but the visual aspect would be "very John Woo".[12] Pfarrer's script is an uncredited variation of the short story The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell.[13]

Pre-production

Universal Pictures saw Hard Target as a potential vehicle for actor Jean-Claude Van Damme.[6] Van Damme had already been a huge fan of Woo's films and arranged to meet with him in Hong Kong where the two got along despite both Woo and Van Damme's difficulty with their English.[6] Woo originally wanted actor Kurt Russell for the lead role, but found Russell to be booked for two years with other film projects.[11] On working with Van Damme, Woo stated that he was "sure of [my own] abilities and I know how to make an actor look good on screen, make him look like a hero. I thought I could do the same for Van Damme".[6] Despite early misgivings of working with Van Damme, Woo changed many action scenes in the film to make them more spectacular on finding that Van Damme was up for it.[14] While working with Van Damme, Woo wrote that Van Damme had "a pretty big ego, but he's still professional and always tries to do a good job."[15] Actress Yancy Butler was cast as Natasha Binder where she made her feature film debut.[16] This role would lead Butler to other starring roles in action films such as Drop Zone and Fast Money.[16] Actor Lance Henriksen accepted the role of Emil Fouchon stating he was great fan of Woo, noting that his earlier films "were so creative, so balletic, and had this incredible philosophy in them. The violence was only a container for the philosophy".[12]

Filming

Hard Target was shot on location in New Orleans, including sequences shot in the French Quarter.[17][18] Hard Target was put on a tight schedule by Universal that allowed only 65 days of shooting time. This put a lot of pressure on Woo.[19] Woo was also pressured by Universal to tone-down the violence and body count that they had seen in his Hong Kong films.[6] As Woo had not mastered the English language yet, it took time for the cast and crew to get used to working with him. When Woo could not explain what he wanted with a shot to cinematographer Russell Carpenter, he would resort to simple statements such as "this will be the Sam Peckinpah shot" to get his message across to Carpenter.[14] Actor Lance Henriksen recalled that it was a gradual process that lead everyone involved to start seeing the film as a John Woo film rather than a Jean-Claude Van Damme film.[20] Producer James Jacks recalled that Woo was not "the most powerful person on the set but as far as I was concerned, he was certainly the most respected".[20]

The weapon fire on the set was considered dangerous, which led the crew to build a new bulletproof plexiglas shield that could be bolted to the camera. This shield was useful particularly for one sequence in Hard Target where Van Damme empties a clip of ammo into the camera.[17] These camera dollies were nicknamed by the crew as "the Woo-Woo Choo-Choo".[21] Russell Carpenter found difficulty in filming the huge gunfight scenes. Carpenter specifically noted the Mardi Gras parade warehouse by recollecting that "just the lighting for a space like that, with all those strange shapes and shadows was difficult enough, but John then added the further complication of wanting the scene shot from several angles at once — often with more than one of the cameras moving".[18] Producer James Jacks supported this style of filming finding it the most economical way to shoot these types of action scenes.[22]

Post-production

The film was edited by Bob Murawski on the set using a state-of-the-art computerized editing unit that allows the user to edit the film as the movie was being shot.[22] The film was then scored by Graeme Revell who utilized Kodo drummers from Japan.[23] Woo was contractually obligated to release a R rating by Universal Pictures. When submitting the film to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), it was judged as too violent and intense for an R rating and received an NC-17 rating.[23] Woo re-edited the film six times for the MPAA as they never indicated what specific scenes they found objectionable.[24] During this editing period, Van Damme went with his own editor to make his own edit of the film. Van Damme's version excises whole characters to insert more scenes and close-ups of his character Chance.[25] When asked about this edit, Van Damme replied that "People pay their money to see me, not to see Lance Henriksen".[24] The MPAA accepted the film after Woo had made 20 cuts to the film. Scenes cut include the opening chase sequence and the Mardi Gras warehouse sequence.[24][26] A non-action scene that is cut from the film is a love scene between Chance and Natasha.[27]

Release

Hard Target was tentatively scheduled to open in July 1993.[28] Hard Target was released August 20, 1993 in the United States making it the first film by an Asian director to be released by a Hollywood studio.[29][30] Hard Target did well in the box office, being the second highest grossing film release of the week at the American box office on its initial release. Hard Target also became the 49th highest grossing film in the United States in 1993.[31][32] Hard Target made a domestic profit of $32,589,677 and a worldwide profit of $74,189,677.[29]

Critical reception

Hard Target received mixed reviews on its initial release praising the film's action scenes but noting the poor story and Jean-Claude Van Damme's acting abilities. On the film review television show Siskel & Ebert, Roger Ebert stated that Hard Target is "not very smart and it's not very original, but it is well made on a technical level. The stunts are impressive...as an action picture, it's well made, but it never becomes more than competent action and I just can't recommend it for that".[33] Gene Siskel also gave the film a thumbs down on the show stating that "John Woo is a good filmmaker... Van Damme is pretty wooden...You notice the style in the film because there is not much substance".[33] Janet Maslin of the New York Times wrote that "Van Damme has still not broken the habit of his own blank-faced posturing, although Mr. Woo films him in the most aggrandizing style imaginable".[34] In Variety, Emanuel Levy wrote that Hard Target was "a briskly vigorous, occasionally brilliant actioner starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. However, hampered by a B-script with flat, standard characters, and subjected to repeated editing of the violent sequences to win an R rating, pic doesn't bear the unique vision on display in Woo's recent "The Killer" and "Hard-Boiled." Van Damme and the director's reputation should ensure initial commercial kick on the way to solid if not spectacular box office".[35] Desson Thompson of The Washington Post wrote that "When Van Damme isn't duking it out with the English language, scriptwriter Chuck Pfarrer is filling Henriksen's mouth with villainous pseudo-profundities. Even in a second-rate action picture like this, and despite Henriksen's commendable efforts, they're painful to listen to...Woo's creative presence is practically stifled. There are some flashes of his deliriously wild style—a slow-motion moment here, a well-chosen freeze-frame there. He also introduces American audiences to his taste for unique motorcycle stunts and very, very loud car explosions. But these Wooisms are disappointingly minimal".[36] Lance Henriksen received a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Emil Fouchon in the film.[37] In 1997, Woo looked back on Hard Target stating that it was "...in some ways, quite a troublesome movie to make, but I'm rather happy with the way the action scenes turned out".[38]

Home media

Hard Target was released on Laserdisc and VHS in 1994. In the United States, the film was the 14th highest selling laserdisc and the 46th most rented VHS film of 1994.[39] Hard Target was released on DVD for Region 1 on July 1, 1998.[40] A Region 2 DVD of the film was released on March 20, 2000.[41] The American DVD has also been released with DVD bundle packs, that include other films starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. These DVD's included Hard Target, as well as Timecop, Street Fighter, Lionheart, Sudden Death and The Quest.[42][43]

An uncut copy of the film has not been released officially, but has been found as a bootleg. This copy has a poor-quality videocassette dub and has a burned-in time code in the corner indicating that the film was not meant for public viewing.[44]

Notes

  1. ^ Jackson, Kevin (October 7, 1993). "The drop-dead director: John Woo makes movies with guts, and buckets of blood. Kevin Jackson talks to him. Plus Jeremy Clarke on Chow Yun-Fat, Woo's favourite leading hard-man". The Independant. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/film--the-dropdead-director-john-woo-makes-movies-with-guts-and-buckets-of-blood-kevin-jackson-talks-to-him-plus-jeremy-clarke-on-chow-yunfat-woos-favourite-leading-hardman-1509125.html. Retrieved October 14, 2009. 
  2. ^ Elder, 2005. p.95
  3. ^ Sharrett, 1999. p.408
  4. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.110
  5. ^ Heard, 1999. p.114
  6. ^ a b c d e f Heard, 1999. p.115
  7. ^ Heard, 1999. p.117
  8. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.125
  9. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.112
  10. ^ Heard, 1999. p.113
  11. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.116
  12. ^ a b Elder, 2005. p.111
  13. ^ Costello, Michael. "Hard Target > Review". Allmovie. http://allmovie.com/work/hard-target-21539/review. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  14. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.119
  15. ^ "Woo to a Kill". Vibe 1: 96. October 1993. ISSN 1070-4701. http://books.google.ca/books?id=QCgEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PT99#v=onepage&q=&f=false. Retrieved September 14, 2009. 
  16. ^ a b Bozzola, Lucia. "Yancy Butler > Overview". Allmovie. http://allmovie.com/artist/yancy-butler-9947. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  17. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.121
  18. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.122
  19. ^ Heard, 1999. p.124
  20. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.118
  21. ^ Elder, 2005. p.103
  22. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.123
  23. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.126
  24. ^ a b c Heard, 1999. p.128
  25. ^ Heard, 1999. p.127
  26. ^ Heard, 1999. p.129
  27. ^ Heard, 1999. p.130
  28. ^ Elder, 2005. p.109
  29. ^ a b ""Hard Target (1993)"". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=hardtarget.htm. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  30. ^ Sandell, Jillian. "Interview with John Woo". Bright Lights Film Journal. http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/31/hk_johnwoo.html. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  31. ^ ""Hard Target (1993) - Weekend Box Office Results"". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=weekend&id=hardtarget.htm. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  32. ^ ""1993 Yearly Box Office Results"". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/yearly/chart/?yr=1993&p=.htm. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  33. ^ a b "At the Movies: Hard Target". At the Movies. ABC Domestic Television. 1993. http://bventertainment.go.com/tv/buenavista/atm/reviews.html?sec=6&subsec=Hard+Target. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  34. ^ Maslin, Janet (20 August 1993). "Hard Target (1993) Hunting to the Death When the Prey Is Human". The New York Times (subscription required). http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?_r=2&res=9807E6DD1E3AF933A1575BC0A965958260&oref=slogin. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  35. ^ Levy, Emanuel (16 August 1993). "Hard Target". Variety. http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117901127.html?categoryid=31&cs=1. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  36. ^ Howe, Desson (20 August 1993). "‘Hard Target’ By Desson Howe". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/hardtargetrhowe_a0afed.htm. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  37. ^ "Past Saturn Awards". Saturn Awards Official Website. http://www.saturnawards.org/past.html#filmsuportactror. Retrieved 17 August 2009. 
  38. ^ Nilsson, Thomas (March 1997). "Q&A with John Woo: Violence is Golden". Black Belt 35 (3): 140. ISSN 0277-3066. http://books.google.ca/books?id=CtoDAAAAMBAJ. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  39. ^ "Top Laserdisc Sales". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.) 107 (1): 60, 65. January 7, 1995. ISSN 0006-2510. http://books.google.ca/books?id=ugsEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA60#v=onepage&q=&f=false. Retrieved September 21, 2009. 
  40. ^ "Hard Target > Overview". Allmovie. http://allmovie.com/dvd/hard-target-1102. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  41. ^ "Hard Target > Overview". Allmovie. http://allmovie.com/dvd/hard-target-107977. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  42. ^ "Hard Target > Overview". Allmovie. http://allmovie.com/dvd/universal-double-features-presents-jean-claude-van-damme-2-discs-10564. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  43. ^ "Van Damme Action Pack Quadruple Feature > Overview". Allmovie. http://allmovie.com/dvd/van-damme-action-pack-quadruple-feature-2-discs-189590. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  44. ^ Heard, 1999. p.131

References

External links


Hard Target
File:HardTarget 1993
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Woo
Produced by James Jacks
Sean Daniel
Daryl Kass
Sam Raimi
Written by Chuck Pfarrer
Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme
Lance Henriksen
Yancy Butler
Arnold Vosloo
Wilford Brimley
Music by Graeme Revell
Cinematography Russell Carpenter
Editing by Bob Murawski
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) United States:
August 20, 1993 (1993-08-20)
United Kingdom:
October 1993 (1993-10)[1]
Running time 97 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $19.5 million[2]
Gross revenue $74,189,677

Hard Target is a 1993 American action film directed by Chinese director John Woo. The film stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as Chance Boudreaux, an out-of-work Cajun merchant seaman who saves a young woman, Natasha Binder (Yancy Butler), from a gang of thugs in New Orleans. Chance learns that Binder is searching for her missing father (Chuck Pfarrer), and agrees to aid Binder in her search. Boudreaux and Binder soon learn that Binder's father has died at the hands of wealthy sportsman Emil Fouchon who hunts homeless men as a form of recreation.

Hard Target was John Woo's first American film and was also the first major Hollywood film made by a Chinese director. Universal Pictures was nervous on having Woo direct a feature, and sent in director Sam Raimi to look over the film's production and to take Woo's place as director if he were to fail. Woo went through several scripts finding mostly martial arts films which he wasn't interested in. After deciding on Chuck Pfarrer's script for Hard Target, Woo wanted to have actor Kurt Russell in the lead role, but found Russell too busy with other projects. Woo then went with Universal's initial choice of having Jean-Claude Van Damme star. Woo got along with Van Damme during filming and raised the amount of action in the film as he knew that Van Damme was up for it.

After 65 days of filming in New Orleans, Woo had trouble with the Motion Picture Association of America to secure the R rating that Universal wanted. Woo made dozens of cuts to the film until the MPAA allowed it an R rating. On its initial release, Hard Target was a financial success but received mixed reviews from film critics. Critics found Hard Target to have good action scenes but noted the weak script and poor quality acting from Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Contents

Plot

In New Orleans, a homeless veteran named Douglas Binder (Chuck Pfarrer) is pursued by mercenaries Stephan (Sven-Ole Thorsen) and Peterson (Jules Sylvester), led by Emil Fouchon (Lance Henriksen),a businessman named Mr. Lopaki (Bob Apisa) (who has paid $500,000 for the opportunity to hunt a human), and Fouchon's lieutenant Pik van Cleaf (Arnold Vosloo). Binder fails to reach his destination and is shot by two crossbow arrows. Van Cleaf retrieves the belt containing the money Binder would have won if he eluded the hunters. Binder's long-estranged daughter Natasha (Yancy Butler) is attacked by a group of thugs while searching for her father and is saved by a homeless man named Chance Boudreaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) with exceptional martial arts skills. Chance is initially hesitant to involve himself with her mission, but as his merchant seaman union dues are in arrears he reluctantly allows Natasha to hire him as her guide and bodyguard during her search. Meanwhile, Chance's homeless friend Elijah Roper is sent to Fouchon's hunting party to start the game and unable to run away from them, is shot to death.

Natasha discovers that her father distributed fliers for a seedy recruiter named Randal (Eliott Keener), who has been secretly supplying Fouchon with homeless men with war experience and no family ties to hunt. Natasha questions Randal about her father's death, and gets irritated by the sudden appearance of Van Cleaf, who has been eavesdropping. Fouchon and Van Cleaf find Randal and punish him for sending the wrong person. New Orleans police officer Mitchell (Kasi Lemmons) is reluctant to investigate as Binder was homeless, until his charred body is discovered in a derelict house that went up in flames. Despite that the death is ruled accidental, Chance searches the ruins and finds Binder's dog tag, which was pierced by one of the crossbow projectile. Van Cleaf's thugs suddenly ambush Chance and beat him unconscious; when he recovers, he tells Mitchell about the dog tag, how he believes he was murdered, since something sharp must have pierced it. Van Cleaf and Fouchon decide to relocate their hunting business and begin eliminating "loose ends". The medical examiner is shot through the eye, and Randal through the head. Mitchell, Natasha and Chance arrive moments later at Randall's death and are ambushed by Van Cleaf and several of his men. During the shootout Mitchell is shot in the chest and killed. Chance kills a handful of the mercenaries, and escapes with Natasha. Fouchon and Van Cleaf assemble their mercenary team to continue hunting him down.

After setting up a rattlesnake trap, which kills one of the hunters, Chance leads Natasha to his uncle Douvee's (Wilford Brimley) house deep in the bayou, and enlists his help in defeating the men. Chance, Natasha, and Douvee lead the hunting party to a junk mill, and kill Fouchon's men one by one. Van Cleaf is finally shot to death by Chance in a shoot out. In the end, only Fouchon is left, but he holds Chance at bay by taking Natasha hostage and stabbing Douvee through the chest by an arrow, badly wounding him. The film ends with Chance charging him and attacking him with a flurry of blows and then detonating a grenade on him, killing him.

Cast

  • Jean-Claude Van Damme as Chance Boudreaux: An out of work Cajun merchant marine. After Boudreaux saves Natasha Binder, he is hired by her to help search for her missing father.
  • Lance Henriksen as Emil Fouchon: A wealthy sportsman who hunts homeless former soldiers for sport. After finding that he is being investigated by Chance and Natasha, Fouchon sends out his gang led by Pick Van Cleaf to ambush them.
  • Arnold Vosloo as Pik Van Cleaf: Van Cleaf is a collaborator of Fouchon who takes part in his sport of hunting men. He leads the crew of men who are sent out to murder Chance and Natasha. Van Cleaf's surname is a reference to actor Lee Van Cleef.[3]
  • Yancy Butler as Natasha "Nat" Binder: A young woman who comes to New Orleans to search for her father, whom she has not seen since she was seven years old. When Natasha is attacked by thugs, she is saved by Chance Boudreaux who agrees to help her find her father.
  • Kasi Lemmons as Carmine Mitchell: A detective at the police station who works in the office while the police are on strike. Mitchell helps Natasha by ordering another autopsy when they show her the pierced dog tags that her father had.
  • Chuck Pfarrer as Douglas Binder: The father of Natasha who has moved to New Orleans. After Natasha finds that three weeks have passed since she has heard from her father, she goes to New Orleans to find that he has been homeless and has been murdered by Emil Fouchon's crew.
  • Wilford Brimley as Uncle Douvee: Uncle Douvee is Chance Boudreaux's uncle who lives deep in the Bayou. Chance and Natasha take shelter at his home as well as have him help during the film's final shoot out.

Production

Development

After making Hard Boiled in Hong Kong, director John Woo decided to take an offer to work in the United States, where he would find himself happier as a filmmaker with a preferable work pace and working with more reasonable hours.[4] Woo was first offered this job in the United States by Universal Pictures chairman Tom Pollock after he had seen Woo's film The Killer.[5][6] Universal was not eager to have Woo direct an entire feature and only agreed after what producer James Jacks called a "difficult period of convincing".[6][7] Universal was worried about having an Asian director on set who had limited command of English on a large scale project. They hired American director Sam Raimi to oversee the film's production and to have him on standby if Woo was not able to fulfill his role as a director.[8] Raimi was very excited to work with Woo as he was fan of his Hong Kong films. Raimi was also confident in Woo's directorial skills, stating that "Woo at 70% is still going to blow away most American action directors working at 100%."[8]

On his arrival in the United States, Woo went through several scripts before deciding on Hard Target.[4] Describing the scripts he received, Woo stated that "Some of them were good—some of them were very good—but the rest were simply martial-arts movies and I told producers that I had no interest in doing those kinds of films anymore. I'd done a lot of them already".[9] One of the scripts offered to Woo at this period was for Face/Off, which he turned down at the time as Woo was turned off by the science fiction setting the script had.[9][10] The script was written by Chuck Pfarrer. Director Andrew Davis was interested in the script, but ultimately turned it down.[11] Woo read Pfarrer's script for Hard Target appreciating that it was a "simple but powerful story, with a lot of feeling underneath. For a good action film you need a solid structure. Chuck gave me that".[12] Woo also stated that the story is "less John Woo" but the visual aspect would be "very John Woo".[13] Pfarrer wrote the script originally basing it on the film The Naked Prey. After the script did not turn out Pfarrer worked on a script influenced by the film Aliens that became the basis for his comic Virus. The final attempt was a script based on The Most Dangerous Game. Pfarrer had the story take place in New Orleans to give an explanation of Jean-Claude Van Damme's accent.[11]

Pre-production

Before any director was attached to Hard Target, Universal Pictures saw the film as a potential vehicle for actor Jean-Claude Van Damme.[6][11] Van Damme had already been a huge fan of Woo's films and arranged to meet with him in Hong Kong where the two got along despite both Woo and Van Damme's difficulty with their English.[6] Woo originally wanted actor Kurt Russell for the lead role, but found Russell to be booked for two years with other film projects.[12] On working with Van Damme, Woo stated that he was "sure of [my own] abilities and I know how to make an actor look good on screen, make him look like a hero. I thought I could do the same for Van Damme".[6] Despite early misgivings of working with Van Damme, Woo changed many action scenes in the film to make them more spectacular on finding that Van Damme was up for it.[14] While working with Van Damme, Woo stated that Van Damme had "a pretty big ego, but he's still professional and always tries to do a good job."[15] Woo had some control over the film's casting including casting minor characters and finding a cinematographer.[11] Actress Yancy Butler was cast as Natasha Binder in her feature film debut.[16] The role led Butler to other starring roles in action films such as Drop Zone and Fast Money.[16] Actor Lance Henriksen accepted the role of Emil Fouchon stating he was great fan of Woo, noting that his earlier films "were so creative, so balletic, and had this incredible philosophy in them. The violence was only a container for the philosophy".[13]

Filming

Hard Target had 74 days of production time and was shot on location in New Orleans, including sequences shot in the French Quarter.[17][18][19] Hard Target was put on a tight schedule by Universal that allowed only 65 days of shooting time. This put a lot of pressure on Woo.[20] Woo was also pressured by Universal to tone-down the violence and body count that they had seen in his Hong Kong films.[6] As Woo had not mastered the English language yet, it took time for the cast and crew to get used to working with him. When Woo could not explain what he wanted with a shot to cinematographer Russell Carpenter, he would resort to simple statements such as "this will be the Sam Peckinpah shot" to get his message across to Carpenter.[14] Actor Lance Henriksen recalled that it was a gradual process that lead everyone involved to start seeing the film as a John Woo film rather than a Jean-Claude Van Damme film.[21] Producer James Jacks recalled that Woo was not "the most powerful person on the set but as far as I was concerned, he was certainly the most respected".[21]

The weapon fire on the set was considered dangerous, which led the crew to build a new bulletproof plexiglas shield that could be bolted to the camera. This shield was useful particularly for one sequence in Hard Target where Van Damme empties a clip of ammo into the camera.[17] These camera dollies were nicknamed by the crew as "the Woo-Woo Choo-Choo".[22] Russell Carpenter found difficulty in filming the huge gunfight scenes. Carpenter specifically noted the Mardi Gras parade warehouse by recollecting that "just the lighting for a space like that, with all those strange shapes and shadows was difficult enough, but John then added the further complication of wanting the scene shot from several angles at once—often with more than one of the cameras moving".[18] Producer James Jacks supported this style of filming finding it the most economical way to shoot these types of action scenes.[23]

Post-production

The film was edited by Bob Murawski on the set using a state-of-the-art computerized editing unit that allows the user to edit the film as the movie was being shot.[23] The film was then scored by Graeme Revell who utilized Kodo drummers from Japan.[24] Woo was contractually obligated to release a R rating by Universal Pictures. When submitting the film to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), it was judged as too violent and intense for an R rating and received an NC-17 rating.[24] Woo re-edited the film six times for the MPAA as they never indicated what specific scenes they found objectionable.[25] During this editing period, Van Damme went with his own editor to make his own edit of the film. Van Damme's version excises whole characters to insert more scenes and close-ups of his character Chance.[26] When asked about this edit, Van Damme replied that "People pay their money to see me, not to see Lance Henriksen".[25] The MPAA accepted the film after Woo had made 20 cuts to the film. Scenes cut include the opening chase sequence and the Mardi Gras warehouse sequence.[25][27] A non-action scene that is cut from the film is a love scene between Chance and Natasha.[28]

Release

Hard Target was tentatively scheduled to open in July 1993.[29] Hard Target was released August 20, 1993 in the United States making it the first film by an Asian director to be released by a Hollywood studio.[19][30][31]

Hard Target did well in the box office, being the second highest grossing film release of the week at the American box office on its initial release. Hard Target also became the 49th highest grossing film in the United States in 1993.[32][33] Hard Target made a domestic profit of $32,589,677 and a worldwide profit of $74,189,677.[30]

Critical reception

Hard Target received mixed reviews on its initial release praising the film's action scenes but noting the poor story and Jean-Claude Van Damme's acting abilities. On the film review television show Siskel & Ebert, Roger Ebert stated that Hard Target is "not very smart and it's not very original, but it is well made on a technical level. The stunts are impressive ... as an action picture, it's well made, but it never becomes more than competent action and I just can't recommend it for that".[34] Gene Siskel also gave the film a thumbs down on the show stating that "John Woo is a good filmmaker ... Van Damme is pretty wooden ... You notice the style in the film because there is not much substance".[34] Janet Maslin of the New York Times wrote that "Van Damme has still not broken the habit of his own blank-faced posturing, although Mr. Woo films him in the most aggrandizing style imaginable".[35] In Variety, Emanuel Levy wrote that Hard Target was "a briskly vigorous, occasionally brilliant actioner starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. However, hampered by a B-script with flat, standard characters, and subjected to repeated editing of the violent sequences to win an R rating, pic doesn't bear the unique vision on display in Woo's recent "The Killer" and "Hard-Boiled." Van Damme and the director's reputation should ensure initial commercial kick on the way to solid if not spectacular box office".[36] Desson Thompson of The Washington Post wrote that "When Van Damme isn't duking it out with the English language, scriptwriter Chuck Pfarrer is filling Henriksen's mouth with villainous pseudo-profundities. Even in a second-rate action picture like this, and despite Henriksen's commendable efforts, they're painful to listen to ... Woo's creative presence is practically stifled. There are some flashes of his deliriously wild style—a slow-motion moment here, a well-chosen freeze-frame there. He also introduces American audiences to his taste for unique motorcycle stunts and very, very loud car explosions. But these Wooisms are disappointingly minimal".[37] Lance Henriksen received a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Emil Fouchon in the film.[38] In 1997, Woo looked back on Hard Target stating that it was "in some ways, quite a troublesome movie to make, but I'm rather happy with the way the action scenes turned out".[39]

Home media

Hard Target was released on Laserdisc and VHS in 1994. In the United States, the film was the 14th highest selling laserdisc and the 46th most rented VHS film of 1994.[40] Hard Target was released on DVD for Region 1 on July 1, 1998.[41] A Region 2 DVD of the film was released on March 20, 2000.[42] The American DVD has also been released with DVD bundle packs, that include other films starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. These DVDs included Hard Target, as well as Timecop, Street Fighter, Lionheart, Sudden Death and The Quest.[43][44]

An uncut copy of the film has not been released officially, but has been found as a bootleg. This copy has a poor-quality videocassette dub and has a burned-in time code in the corner indicating that the film was not meant for public viewing.[45]

Notes

  1. ^ Jackson, Kevin (October 7, 1993). "The drop-dead director: John Woo makes movies with guts, and buckets of blood. Kevin Jackson talks to him. Plus Jeremy Clarke on Chow Yun-Fat, Woo's favourite leading hard-man". The Independant. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/film--the-dropdead-director-john-woo-makes-movies-with-guts-and-buckets-of-blood-kevin-jackson-talks-to-him-plus-jeremy-clarke-on-chow-yunfat-woos-favourite-leading-hardman-1509125.html. Retrieved October 14, 2009. 
  2. ^ Elder, 2005. p.95
  3. ^ Sharrett, 1999. p.408
  4. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.110
  5. ^ Heard, 1999. p.114
  6. ^ a b c d e f Heard, 1999. p.115
  7. ^ Heard, 1999. p.117
  8. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.125
  9. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.112
  10. ^ Heard, 1999. p.113
  11. ^ a b c d Hall, 1999. p.166
  12. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.116
  13. ^ a b Elder, 2005. p.111
  14. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.119
  15. ^ Group, Vibe Media (October 1993). "Woo to a Kill". Vibe 1: 96. ISSN 1070-4701. http://books.google.com/?id=QCgEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PT99#v=onepage&q=. Retrieved September 14, 2009. 
  16. ^ a b Bozzola, Lucia. "Yancy Butler > Overview". Allmovie. http://allmovie.com/artist/yancy-butler-9947. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  17. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.121
  18. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.122
  19. ^ a b Harmetz, AlJean (August 15, 1993). "Toning Down, John Woo Earns His Hollywood R". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1993/08/15/movies/film-toning-down-john-woo-earns-his-hollywood-r.html?scp=8&sq=the+killer+john+woo&st=nyt. 
  20. ^ Heard, 1999. p.124
  21. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.118
  22. ^ Elder, 2005. p.103
  23. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.123
  24. ^ a b Heard, 1999. p.126
  25. ^ a b c Heard, 1999. p.128
  26. ^ Heard, 1999. p.127
  27. ^ Heard, 1999. p.129
  28. ^ Heard, 1999. p.130
  29. ^ Elder, 2005. p.109
  30. ^ a b ""Hard Target (1993)"". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=hardtarget.htm. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  31. ^ Sandell, Jillian. "Interview with John Woo". Bright Lights Film Journal. http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/31/hk_johnwoo.html. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  32. ^ ""Hard Target (1993) - Weekend Box Office Results"". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=weekend&id=hardtarget.htm. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  33. ^ ""1993 Yearly Box Office Results"". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/yearly/chart/?yr=1993&p=.htm. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  34. ^ a b "At the Movies: Hard Target". At the Movies. ABC Domestic Television. 1993. http://bventertainment.go.com/tv/buenavista/atm/reviews.html?sec=6&subsec=Hard+Target. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  35. ^ Maslin, Janet (20 August 1993). "Hard Target (1993) Hunting to the Death When the Prey Is Human". The New York Times (subscription required). http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?_r=2&res=9807E6DD1E3AF933A1575BC0A965958260&oref=slogin. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  36. ^ Levy, Emanuel (16 August 1993). "Hard Target". Variety. http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117901127.html?categoryid=31&cs=1. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  37. ^ Howe, Desson (20 August 1993). "‘Hard Target’ By Desson Howe". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/hardtargetrhowe_a0afed.htm. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  38. ^ "Past Saturn Awards". Saturn Awards Official Website. http://www.saturnawards.org/past.html#filmsuportactror. Retrieved 17 August 2009. 
  39. ^ Nilsson, Thomas (March 1997). "Q&A with John Woo: Violence is Golden". Black Belt 35 (3): 140. ISSN 0277-3066. http://books.google.com/?id=CtoDAAAAMBAJ. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  40. ^ "Top Laserdisc Sales". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.) 107 (1): 60, 65. January 7, 1995. ISSN 0006-2510. http://books.google.com/?id=ugsEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA60#v=onepage&q=. Retrieved September 21, 2009. 
  41. ^ "Hard Target > Overview". Allmovie. http://allmovie.com/dvd/hard-target-1102. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  42. ^ "Hard Target > Overview". Allmovie. http://allmovie.com/dvd/hard-target-107977. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  43. ^ "Hard Target > Overview". Allmovie. http://allmovie.com/dvd/universal-double-features-presents-jean-claude-van-damme-2-discs-10564. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  44. ^ "Van Damme Action Pack Quadruple Feature > Overview". Allmovie. http://allmovie.com/dvd/van-damme-action-pack-quadruple-feature-2-discs-189590. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  45. ^ Heard, 1999. p.131

References

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Hard Target (1993) is an action film written by Chuck Pfarrer. It was directed by John Woo.

Dialogue

Mr. Poe: Well, if it ain't my good friend Boudreaux. I thought you was gonna catha a ship.
Boudreaux: Maybe I'll stick around to run for mayor.
Natasha Binder: We're looking for someone who worked for you. The man's name is Douglas Binder.
Mr. Poe: I never heard of him.
Boudreaux: I think he know you.
Natasha Binder: Did he work for you, sir?
Mr. Poe: Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. I'm not too good with names.
Natrasha Binder: I have a photograph.
Boudreaux: What Mr. Poe trying to say, he is not too good with faces. Right?
Pick van Cleaf: Hello, Randal. I didn't know you had company.
Boudreaux: We were just leaving.

Boudreaux: It's always nice to see you.
Det. Marie Mitchell: You seem to have a real talent, Mr. Boudreaux, for attracting violence.
Boudreaux: Does that make me a bad person?

Uncle Douvee: We'll fix him up good. Put bandage on, it no hurt. Be strong, my boy.
Boudreaux: Douvee, I've got some people after me.
Uncle Douvee: I know. I can smell them.
Boudreaux: You've still got a .30-06, the one I gave you for you birthday?
Uncle Douvee: No. A gator ate it. But, uh, I've still got you shotgun.

Emil Fouchion: [to Van Cleaf] Get the helicopter. Find Boudreaux. We'll set up an ambush this side of Bayou La Fouche.
Pick van Cleaf: I can take him from the air.
Emil Fouchion: Any pinhead can take him from the air. I want to take him from the ground!
Pick van Cleaf: I can take him from the air.
Emil Fouchion: Be a professional, Pick.
Pick van Cleaf: Hey, you're making a mistake here.
Emil Fouchion: Make sure he gets there, Pick.

[Boudreaux and van Cleaf reload his guns, and before shooting]
Pick van Cleaf: Boudreaux, Boudreaux, Boudreaux. I've been looking all over for you.
Boudreaux: You've been looking in the wrong places.
Pick van Cleaf: That's good, because I know you wouldn't want to... hurt my feelings.

External Links








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