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Hard Target
|     review    |     notes     |     awards     |     availability     | "John Woo, when is my naked butt scene?"
The Muscles from Brussels confers with John Woo
  Year: 1993  
Director: John Woo
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lance Henrikson, Yancy Butler, Arnold Vosloo, Wilford Brimley
The Skinny: The Muscles from Brussels fails to totally ruin John Woo's American film debut. Hard Target is a stupid but entertaining B-film with fun over-the-top action and very little actual substance. This is crap, but not without its amusing moments.
by Kozo:

John Woo's first US effort is pretty good — for a Jean-Claude Van Damme film. The Muscles from Brussels plays a Cajun drifter named Chance, who becomes a target for rich hunters who hunt humans for sport (a la "The Most Dangerous Game"). He gets drawn into the mess when token female Yancy Butler hires him to find her missing dad. Lance Henrikson is the cool bad guy who runs the whole show and Arnold Vosloo is his equally charismatic right-hand man. Also starring Quaker Oats guy Wilford Brimley as Chance's uncle, who makes moonshine and looks damn ridiculous riding a horse. Kicks and explosions ensue, as does a healthy helping of slow motion.

Over-the-top action fans rejoice! Hard Target contains enough silly and stylized action to amuse John Woo fans, though the overall quality of the product could never be compared to Hard Boiled. A lot of Woo is lost in his American transition: the slow-mo action and cheesy romanticism is intact, but his celebrated themes of brotherhood and honor are missing. Then again, this is a Van Damme film, so who really cares? If anything, we should just be happy that the Universal Soldier doesn't make the film worse than it is. If you leave your brain (and high hopes) at the door, Hard Target possesses enough amusing action to make it a suitably dumb time at the movies. True, the rest of the film is dicey, and John Woo's slow-mo romanticism earns more giggles than awe. Strangely, I found myself entertained. (Kozo 1993/1996)

Notes: • John Woo was famously locked out of the editing room because his cut of the film baffled the studio execs, who were probably expecting Kickboxer 2. The "Director's Cut" of Hard Target is reportedly twenty minutes longer, and is readily available at the bootleg tables of your friendly neighborhood sci-fi convention.
Awards: • Reportedly, Hard Target won the title of "Greatest Film Ever Made." However, the venue and actual decision-making body of that award are both total mysteries.
Availability: DVD (USA)
Region 1 NTSC
MCA/Universal Home Video
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
English Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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images courtesy of Universal Pictures Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen