Blu-ray Review: Hard Target

STUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: John Woo | CAST: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lance Henriksen, Yancy Butler, Arnold Vosloo, Kasi Lemmons, Wilford Brimley
RELEASE DATE: Dec. 7, 2021 | PRICE: 4K UHD $26.49, Blu-ray $19.89
BONUSES: commentary, four interviews, trailers
SPECS: NR | 100 min. | Action thriller | 1.85:1 | 5.1 Surround & 2.0 Lossless Stereo

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

Kino Lorber’s 4K restoration of the unrated director’s cut of John Woo’s 1993 Hard Target delivers on its promise of a “Special Edition,” as it’s strikingly rendered and outfitted with a nice assortment of bonus features.

The first Hollywood endeavor by established Hong Kong action auteur Woo is an above-average affair, a well-mounted and entertaining vehicle for the by-then well-established Nineties action star Jean-Claude Van Damme (The Expendables 2, Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning).

Jean-Claude Van Damme lets loose in Hard Target

Van Damme is a lone hero who finds himself targeted by a businessman mercenary (a deliciously nasty Lance Henriksen) who recruits combat veterans for the “amusement” of his clients—bored tycoons who will pay a half a million dollars to hunt down and kill. This take on the tine-honored Most Dangerous Game storyline offers plenty of opportunities for the Muscles of Brussels to engage in his trademark martial arts physicality and Woo and his team to go let loose with their trademark, furiously edited gunplay and pyrotechnics. The New Orleans and its surrounding environs proves to be a particularly tasty backdrop for the ensuing action.

The bonus package includes a commentary by action film commentators Mike Leeder and Brandon Bentley, along with four recent interviews with players who were part of the production, including co-stars Henriksen and Yancy Butler, stunt coordinator Billy Burton and, most notably, director Woo.

It’s Woo who’s the most interesting as he discusses the challenges of making his first Hollywood film and how hadn’t realized that his star would have so much say and approval in the filming.

“The director has much more freedom in Hong Kong, he says, “There is more trust from the studio for the filmmaker to do what he does.”

Henriksen offers that, yes, Woo quickly adapted to the Hollywood style and proved to one of the finest filmmakers he ever worked with.

“I love John Woo,” he declares. I would do all the animals in Noah’s Ark for him.”

Buy or Rent Hard Target

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.