Hard Target is an action film from 1993 that stars the one and only Muscles from Brussels, Jean-Claude Van Damme. The first thing you’ll notice about this film is the incredible hair that JCVD is sporting throughout the entire thing.
The plot of Hard Target is pretty straightforward; a businessman named Emil Fouchon (played by the always great Lance Henrikson) runs a sport for the super-rich and bored in which they hunt down vagrants using whatever weaponry they wish. Unfortunately for Lance, one of the vagrants he picks up to be killed by a client was Chance Boudreaux’s* (JCVD) old war buddy. But that’s not all: JCVD is hired by one Nat Binder (Yancy Butler) to track down her missing father, also a man who fell on hard times and picked up by Fouchon’s crew. The rest of the movie has the two tracking down Fouchon and his henchmen while also being hunted by the same people.
This movie is a lot of fun. It’s the first English language film directed by John Woo and his style is all over it. There are a ton of high-octane gun fights, paper and debris flying all over the place, people diving around, doves bursting forth in flight; it’s all there. Additionally, there are ample explosions that are way too big for what is called for, which is superb. Also, this film contains my favourite action trope following what has become one of my favourite scenes ever filmed. The trope: cars blowing up instantly due to either a gunshot or collision. The scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hH59cd3OPcw. Absolutely incredible (get a load of that all-denim outfit too! Man, I miss the 90s).
In sum, Hard Target is a must-watch for an action fan. There’s some funny lines, some awesome scenes, great explosions, for some reason Wilford Brimley plays Jean-Claude’s backwoods uncle. See it.
* You’ll quickly notice that in every single JCVD movie, he plays someone vaguely French/Louisianian/French Canadian, but rarely, if ever, a Belgian.