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Hard Target (1993) – 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray Review: Kino Lorber + JCVD = A Fun Combination

December 17, 2021

Hard Target (1993) – 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray Review

Quick note – I love Kino Lorber, and have been buying their releases for years (buy their Deep Rising release now). This time, I got lucky and received this wonderful film, so I could review it (I would’ve bought it anyway).

In 1993, something amazing happened. John Woo and Jean-Claude Van Damme teamed up to make their version of The Most Dangerous Game. The end result was a deliriously violent romp that features snake punching, motorcycle surfing, and a moment in which JCVD pulls back his long jacket, to reveal his deadly leg (instead of a gun – beautiful moment). What I love about Hard Target is how instead of being just another action film that featured JCVD spin kicking people in the face, it became a technically ambitious movie with lots of sweeping crane shots, practical stunts, and a plethora of side characters who steal the show from the main character. While JCVD fully commits to his role of Chance Boudreaux, it’s Lance Henriksen and Arnold Vosloo who walk away with the movie, as they clearly loved playing manhunting baddies who travel the world to help fulfill the bloodlust of rich hunters, who pay handsomely so they can murder handpicked prey. Whenever they are onscreen the movie becomes much more interesting, and despite Vosloo becoming a household name with The Mummy, I still always refer to him as “the guy from Hard Target.”

The film culminates with a doozy of a finale that pays homage to Woo’s prior films, and gives JCVD some moments to shine as he spins kicks, and shoots (it is a John Woo film, he needed to shoot a gun) his way to victory. The finale features some of my favorite action movie visuals of the 1990s (the Henriksen grenade bit lol), and it looks glorious on the new disc.

 Hard Target clearly isn’t on the level of Hard Boiled or Face/Off, and that’s totally fine because it was never meant to be. The movie established Woo in America, and led to Broken Arrow, Face/Off and Mission: Impossible II

What’s best about the new 4K is how it highlights the sweaty New Orleans locations, and gives the world a proper 4k release of an underappreciated action movie. According to Kino Lorber, it’s a brand new “4K Restoration of the Unrated International Cut – From a 4K Scan of the Original Camera Negative!” This means we get the unrated international cut, and it looks and sounds great. 

Final Thoughts – If you are a fan of 1990s action cinema, you should definitely pick it up. 

Extras 

Audio Commentary featuring Action Film Historians Brandon Bently and Mike Leeder – I really enjoyed this commentary as Bently and Leeder dropped some cool action movie knowledge and shared some facts that I’d never heard before.

From Hard Boiled to Hard Target – Interview with John Woo (HD 12:52) – This is a highlight of the new release. I loved hearing about how Sam Raimi got Woo’s back when JCVD wanted to have his own edit of the film. Woo has such a likable presence, and I loved hearing about how he got the job, and how he approached his first American film 

Henriksen vs Van Damme – Interview with Lance Henriksen (HD 8:46) – The highlight of this interview was hearing about how much respect Henriksen has for John Woo. Henriksen has worked with the biggest names in the industry, and to hear him talk about his love for Woo, and how he directs, is really cool (Henriksen would sit around on set and just watch Woo work). Also, it was neat learning that Henriksen requested the gun he has in the film.

Hard Times in The Big Easy – Interview with Yancy Butler (HD 14:36) – Yancy Butler is a blast, and whether she’s talking about fake snakes, or when she and JCVD wiped out on a motorcycle, she’s supremely entertaining. Also, she loved working with Woo, and had nothing but nice things to say about JCVD, who was very kind to her mother.

Gun Fu and Van Dammage – Interview with Stunt Coordinator Billy Burton (HD 9:05) – Billy Burton has been in the stunt business for decades, and he loved working with Woo.

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