Hard Target

The inauspicious U.S. debut (1993) of violent Hong Kong action director John Woo, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme—less amusing as a showcase for Van Damme than Universal Soldier and decidedly less balletic than Hard-Boiled, Woo's previous picture. The setting is New Orleans and environs, where Van Damme is pitted against a group of sadists who hunt down homeless men for the fun of it. Aficionados of explosions and baroque mutilations may be appeased by the bones (not to mention ears, eyes, and groins) thrown their way by the childish script of Chuck Pfarrer (who plays the movie's first victim), but the relative absence of homoeroticism and extended virtuoso action choreography, Woo's two staples, places an inordinate burden on the sort of nasty one-liners only preteen boys are likely to find very enjoyable. With Lance Henriksen and Yancy Butler.

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