Thursday, June 26, 2014

HARD TARGET will leave you Woo-zy

Where to begin with HARD TARGET?  Storytelling is not John Woo's strong suit. This might be why he murders the screenwriter in the opening scene. Really— the writer plays the film's first victim (the audience plays the 2nd).

Hot off HARD BOILED, one of the best action films ever, Woo came to Hollywood eager to blow minds. To say he out-Wooed himself in HT is an understatement. When a guy's foot goes through a rotting floor board, it takes Woo 9 cuts (I counted) to show this fraction-of-a-second-long event. 3 of those cuts are in slo-mo, of course. Most of the movie is shot and cut this way. It's exhausting as fuck.

The good news is that HT is hilarious (often unintentionally) and watchable (despite itself) and more than qualifies for inclusion as Essential NOLA Cinema.  The opening set piece that introduces JCVD takes place in Cafe Brazil; in fact, it's the same cafe set that was used in FLAKES, making me wonder when Ude actually bought the place (both films were shot pre-Katrina although FLAKES was released after).  Look for the amazing wide-angle shot of JCVD's mullet with the Apple Barrel's now-covered-by-Dat-Dog mural dwarfing him.

As if that wasn't enough early-90's Frenchmen St, there is an insane (as in completely incoherent) shoot-out that takes place down the block at the corner of Decatur.  It features guys with Uzis on motorcycles, Arnold Vosloo from THE MUMMY wielding a shotgun, and enough machine gun fire to destroy the living shit out of Mona's and Vaso.

There is also some business dealing with the city's homeless population and police department that is actually handled intelligently and with respect. One must assume the 2nd Unit did all that, because 75% of the movie is hyper-spastic adolescent action cut with a disorienting slo-mo/fast-mo rhythm that obliterates all temporal and spatial continuity.

Then, just when you think it can't get any crazier, the film jumps to the bayou, and this happens—

Wilford Fucking Brimley as "Uncle Duvet" (technically Douvee but c'mon we're not stupid) goes John-Rambo-in-FIRST-BLOOD on an army of baddies using only an old shotgun, dynamite, and the power of his mustache. (We Hate Movies did a riotous segment on this)

The finale happens in Blain Kern's Mardi Gras World warehouse on the West Bank, and if anyone's made a John Woo parody sequence, I doubt it can be any funnier than this, the real thing. One of Woo's goddamn doves actually fights on JCVD's side; we know they're buddies because earlier in the film it provided him with a helpful clue. I'm not making any of that up.

NEXT: Louis Malle's PRETTY BABY (1978), by request.

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