Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 18th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: USA, August 20th, 1993
Director: John Woo
Writer: Chuck Pfarrer
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lance Henriksen, Yancy Butler
DVD Released: May 31st, 2004
Approximate Running Time: 97 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD Release: Universal
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $9.99
“Now take your pig-stick and your boyfriend, and find a bus to catch.” – Chance Boudreaux
Emil Fouchon ( Lance Henriksen) sets up games of cat and mouse with war veterans for millionaires looking for the excitement of the hunt. Natasha Binder (Yancy Butler) has just arrived in New Orleans and she is looking for her missing father when she runs into Chance Boudreaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) who she convinces to help her find her father. Will Fouchon and his thugs kill Boudreaux before he helps Natasha find the truth?
By the early 1990’s John Woo was the king of Hong Kong cinema and after finishing 1992’s Hard Boiled he would leave Hong Kong for America. In his first Hollywood film Hard Target Woo would be faced with interference from Universal and the films star Jean-Claude Van Damme who didn’t share Woo’s vision for the film. Their meddling would drastically change the final look of the film. Hard Target is a modern day version of the 1932 film The Most Dangerous Game that is loaded with breath taking action and John Woo’s operatic style. Some of John Woo’s trademarks are evident even though the film has been for the most part watered down for Van Damme fans. The action and the story move at a brisk pace and overall everyone including Van Damme is pretty good in this. Hard Target is a slightly better then average action film that has some wonderful moments like the final shoot out in the factory. John Woo is known for his inventive action sequences and Mexican standoffs like the shot were Van Damme and one of the bad guys are back to back separated by a wall.
Hard Target is presented in its original aspect ratio and it has been anamorphic enhanced for widescreen televisions. The colors are accurate and the blacks are solid. The print used was very clean and grain is kept to a minimum. There are two audio options on this DVD Dolby Digital 5.1 English and Dolby Digital Surround French. The English audio track has deep bass and the dialog and effect are crystal clear and east to hear.
Extras include the films original trailer, cast and filmmakers and production notes. This DVD is a barebones affair and since this was John Woo Hollywood début it would have been nice if some extras would have been included. Universal cut of Hard Target isn’t the one John Woo intended and it would have been nice if Universal finally released John Woo’s director’s cut of Hard Target instead of the theatrical version which resembles more a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. This DVD can be found cheap at retail stores and it is an entertaining action film that is a worthy addition to any action fans collection.