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Hard Target (1993) Poster

(1993)

Trivia

Jump to: Director Trademark (8)
Universal was afraid that John Woo's limited English would be a problem on set, so they hired Sam Raimi to oversee the entire shoot and replace Woo if need be.
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During the final battle, Lance Henriksen's coat accidentally caught fire. He never broke character and continued the scene while he pulled off the coat and threw it away. This remained in the final cut.
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Body Count: 34. (including the snake).
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The strong chemistry between Arnold Vosloo and Lance Henriksen lead one Universal Executive to quip that he wished he could have gotten the pair their own film together.
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John Woo's original cut of the film ran nearly two hours and focused more on Fouchon. Jean-Claude Van Damme and his editor locked themselves in an editing room for two days and reedited the film for the producers. Van Damme stated that moviegoers were paying to see a Van Damme movie, not a Lance Henriksen movie.
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Hollywood had already shown interest in John Woo when he was approached by Warner Bros and director Oliver Stone to direct a modern kung-fu movie. The project ultimately fell through and Woo went on to make Hard Boiled (1992) instead. Afterwards he was offered the screenplay to Hard Target, and although he liked the story, he thought the film would be too difficult to make. Jean-Claude Van Damme had already been a huge fan of Woo's films and arranged to meet with him in Hong Kong, together with writer Chuck Pfarrer and producer James Jacks. The two got along well, despite both Woo and Van Damme's difficulty with their English. On working with Van Damme, Woo later stated that he was "sure of my own abilities, and I know how to make an actor look good on screen, make him look like a hero. I thought I could do the same for Van Damme". Despite early misgivings of working with Van Damme, Woo changed many action scenes in the film to make them more spectacular on finding that Van Damme was up for it. While working with Van Damme, Woo stated that Van Damme had "a pretty big ego, but he's still professional and always tries to do a good job."
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Kurt Russell was originally sought for the role of Chance Boudreaux, but they couldn't wait two years to film it with him. The studio then went to Jean-Claude Van Damme, who met with John Woo when he was filming Double Impact (1991) in Hong Kong.
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In John Woo's original cut, there was a love scene between Chance and Nat.
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Arnold Vosloo said working with John Woo was like an actors' dream come true.
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Lance Henriksen accepted the role of Emil Fouchon stating he was great fan of John Woo, noting that his earlier films "were so creative, so balletic, and had this incredible philosophy in them. The violence was only a container for the philosophy".
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Originally earned an NC-17 rating for violence. It was resubmitted to the MPAA seven times before it finally earned an R rating.
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The crew had to construct a bulletproof shield to protect the camera, which was nicknamed "the Woo-Woo Choo-Choo."
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Many critics called the picture "the most violent film of the summer". One critic said that it was only concerned about one thing: violence. Noted film critic Kevin Thomas, who enjoyed the picture, said the film's violence was no more explicit than the previous fall's Under Siege (1992).
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In an interview, Lance Henriksen recalled how when he asked John Woo how to approach his character's motivation at the end of the film, Woo told him to think about what someone would be like who enjoyed taking advantage of the weak and vulnerable. Henriksen said that was the only direction he gave him, and let Henriksen decide how big or small to play the role. Henriksen has said also said that the word "no" never came out of Woo's mouth.
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John Woo turned down the script for Face/Off (1997) to direct this instead, as the science fiction side of that movie didn't interest him. He had a change of heart 4 years later when he did choose to direct Face/Off.
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Kurt Russell was considered to star, but the lead role ended up going to Jean-Claude Van Damme when Universal Pictures decided that they wanted to be in the "Van Damme business". The studio had successfully released his martial arts pic, Lionheart (1990) in 1991, and his pictures released between that film and "Hard Target" had all been strong performers domestically and internationally.
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After the domestic and international box office success of the film, Universal Pictures, production company Alphaville (producers Jim Jacks and Sean Daniel), star Jean-Claude Van Damme and director John Woo briefly considered re-teaming for another action/thriller to be titled "Shadow of Death". However, due to the difficult relationship between Van Damme and Woo, the project never materialized.
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The film originally was to end with a boat chase, but was changed to a horseback chase at the insistence of Jean-Claude Van Damme. See also Face/Off (1997).
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The ear-cutting scene was included by director John Woo as a friendly homage to Reservoir Dogs (1992), which included a trademark Woo "Mexican Standoff".
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As John Woo had not mastered the English language yet, it took time for the cast and crew to get used to working with him. When Woo could not explain what he wanted with a shot to cinematographer Russell Carpenter, he would resort to simple statements such as "this will be the Sam Peckinpah shot" to get his message across to Carpenter. Lance Henriksen recalled that it was a gradual process that led everyone involved to start seeing the film as a John Woo film rather than a Jean-Claude Van Damme film.
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Lance Henriksen's pistol is a Thompson Center Contender. It is a single-shot pistol featuring interchangeable barrels of different calibers.
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Chuck Pfarrer had the story take place in New Orleans to give an explanation for Jean-Claude Van Damme's accent. Fortunately, director John Woo loved the setting, as he wanted to make the movie look like a Western.
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Theatrical trailer shows Van Cleaf saying "Look at it this way. You gonna get to meet Elvis" while kneeling over dead body of Roper after his men killed him on street. This short dialogue scene is not in any known version of the movie. Due to this and the fact that movie was heavily re-cut many times it's possible that there was more deleted footage than even the famous uncut workprint versions include.
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Production lasted 74 days. However, the film was put on a tight schedule by Universal that allowed only 65 days of shooting time. This put a lot of pressure on John Woo. He was also pressured by Universal to tone-down the violence and body count that they had seen in his Hong Kong films.
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The character Van Cleaf is named after actor Lee Van Cleef. He played a sadistic antagonist in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966).
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John Woo's English-language directorial debut. This also marked the first big Hollywood studio movie to be helmed by an Asian director.
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This movie has many references to John Woo's previous films, including Bullet in the Head (1990) at the end of the film in which Fouchon kicks a burning barrel at Chance and he jumps over it.
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Producer James Jacks recalled that John Woo was not "the most powerful person on the set but as far as I was concerned, he was certainly the most respected".
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Sven-Ole Thorsen's only line as Stephan ("The place is clean; he just left.") was dubbed to cover his thick Danish accent.
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The first preview did not go well. John Woo used a lot of dissolves for scene transitions, and found that they confused American audiences, who associated them with flashbacks. They also had trouble with slow-motion (associated with commercials) and the violence. According to Woo, several people walked out.
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John Woo was first offered this job in the United States by Universal Pictures chairman Tom Pollock after he had seen Woo's film The Killer (1989).
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Chuck Pfarrer wrote the script originally basing it on The Naked Prey (1965). After the script did not turn out Pfarrer worked on a script influenced by Aliens (1986) that became the basis for his comic Virus. The final attempt was a script based on The Most Dangerous Game.
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Russell Carpenter found difficulty in filming the huge gunfight scenes. Carpenter specifically noted the Mardi Gras parade warehouse by recollecting that "just the lighting for a space like that, with all those strange shapes and shadows was difficult enough, but John then added the further complication of wanting the scene shot from several angles at once-often with more than one of the cameras moving". Producer James Jacks supported this style of filming finding it the most economical way to shoot these types of action scenes.
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One of the difficulties for director John Woo of working on a Hollywood movie was dealing with the star power of Jean-Claude Van Damme, who exerted a lot of control over the project, from script approval to filming to final cut. For example, van Damme would insist on having one of the cameras focused on his muscles at all times. Woo complied, but never used any of that footage. Van Damme would also delay filming because he was often on the phone negotiating new projects. Despite the difficulties, Woo did not regret working with van Damme, calling him a "quite interesting guy", and actually preferred the experience of filming in the USA over working in Asia for some years.
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Director Sam Raimi also worked on the film behind the scenes because Universal hired him to keep an eye out on John Woo and take over the production if he messes up, but Raimi never did anything like that and he was happy to work with Woo, even if it was unofficially due to certain reasons.

Sometime in early 90's before he got involved in Hard Target, Jean Claude Van Damme was going to be involved in another movie project with Raimi, who was gonna produce and maybe even direct the horror thriller titled Steel Donkeys based on the spec script by cult South African director and screenwriter Richard Stanley.

The story of the script, which was said to be very violent and gory, followed gang of thieves (Van Damme was going to play the leader of the gang) who break into some old bank in Amsterdam during Queen's day festival, and while they are stealing the diamonds from the bank the gang members accidentally release an alien shape-shifting demon (this would explain the Steel Donkeys title which is a term Jamaican yardies use for these kind of soul sucking demons) who was trapped inside the building since second World War, and after police shows up and put the building under siege, gang members have to find a way to survive and escape while at the same time fighting against the demon who starts possessing and killing them one by one.
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The film was inspired by The Most Dangerous Game (1932).
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Director Andrew Davis was interested in the script, but ultimately turned it down.
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35mm prints are 6 reels.
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M. Scott Smith performed additional editing on the film.
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Director Trademark: White Dove flying into the scene.
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The same year, Lance Henriksen also starred in Knights (1993) directed by Albert Pyun. Jean-Claude Van Damme had starred in Albert Pyun's Cyborg (1989) 4 years earlier.
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Director Trademark 

John Woo: [back to back banter] Chance vs. Van Cleaf with a wall between them throwing around a few comments before the "showdown".
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John Woo: [reflection] Chance sees Stephan's reflection in the motorcycle rider's helmet visor.
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John Woo: [guns] Someone throwing another character a gun.
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John Woo: [guns] Chance uses two guns in the final shootout.
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John Woo: [doves]
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John Woo: [reflection] Chance sees the thugs preparing to rob Natasha reflected in the door of the cafe.
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John Woo: [motorcycles]
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John Woo: [slow motion]
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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