Hard Target is one of the seemingly unending oeuvre of action films that dominated my cinema going life in the eighties and nineties. And it is definitely up there as one of the best. Starring the Muscles from Brussels as Chance, a taciturn ex marine turned Merchant Sailor caught up in a search for Yancy Butler's father who has been killed as part of a sporting hunt across New Orleans. It isn't long before Chance has gotten to close to the truth, and he has to shoot, blow up or karate kick the villains into submission in a thrilling chase first through the city, through the bayou and finally in a carnival warehouse.
Lance Henrikson provides a suitably unhinged and hammy villain, with Arnold Vosloo looking very convincing as the chief Henchman. It seems as though the villains have come from rent-a-motorcycle-mob, and every cliché possible is duly inserted into the film, including Wilford Brimley in the role of homespun wisdom spouting loveable rogue friend/relative of hero who seems unsurprised when he turns up on his doorstep hunted by 20 heavily armed thugs. Van Damme is the star though and the all important action sequences still thrill as the film descends into an orgy of destruction and death.
Directed by John Woo, this does suffer a little from his trademark Slo Mo shots that here serve to break up the pace of the film and distract rather than enhance anything. There are some attempts at social commentary, with the rich hunting the poor and homeless and Van Damme does have an annoying and ill judged tendency to attempt to act rather than just hit things, but these don't really harm the film. All in all 4 stars.