Hard Target is 25 years old this week.
The film was John Woo’s directorial debut in the west, and surely one of Jean Claude Van Damme’s very best films (and, in my opinion, one of John Woo’s too).
After being recruited by Universal, Woo went through several scripts before deciding on Hard Target. Describing the scripts he received, Woo stated that “Some of them were good—some of them were very good—but the rest were simply martial-arts movies and I told producers that I had no interest in doing those kinds of films anymore. I’d done a lot of them already.”
It was a good choice, the hunting angle was a very novel concept. It also always reminds me on Jesse Ventura’s comments when he was arguing with people who hunt animals; “until you have hunted man, you haven’t hunted yet”.
The film was a box office success, taking back almost four times its budget. Keep in mind, this movie had strong competition (The Fugitive) yet still came a strong second on its opening weekend. It just serves to remind us that at his zenith, the younger Jean Claude Van Damme was beginning to worry even the likes of Harrison Ford.
Then he went and blew it (by his own admission) by playing hardball with Universal, getting ideas above his station, who promptly told him to fuck off, good luck in your endeavors.