Director John Woo's first Stateside offering is a lively variation on The Most Dangerous Game in which villainous sportsmen (led by an ever-awesome Lance Henriksen) get their shits and giggles by hunting down homeless people in the New Orleans bayou. Jean-Claude Van Damme discovers their little club when he's hired by a hottie (Yancy Butler) to track down her missing father and -- wouldn't you know it -- the hunters soon become the hunted as the Muscles From Brussels (actually, here he's "The Ragin' Cajun") opens up a can of his trademark whup-ass. Hard Target is, by far, one of Van Damme's best flicks (and was perhaps the best until 2008's astonishing JCVD), filled with some terrifically seedy Big Easy atmosphere to go with Woo's truly amazing action choreography (at which, of course, Van Damme excels). Universal was nervous about having the director of such overseas hits as Hard Boiled and A Better Tomorrow call the shots on this (it was the first major Hollywood movie helmed by a Chinese filmmaker); the studio had Sam Raimi (who had recently done Army of Darkness with Universal) waiting in the wings to take charge if Woo "should fail." Raimi's services were most certainly not required.
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