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Hard Target (1993)

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A woman hires a drifter as her guide through New Orleans in search of her father, who has gone missing. They discover a deadly game of cat and mouse behind his disappearance in the process.


John Woo


Chuck Pfarrer
4,182 ( 344)
1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Chuck Pfarrer ... Douglas Binder
Robert Apisa Robert Apisa ... Mr. Lopacki (as Bob Apisa)
Arnold Vosloo ... Pik van Cleef
Lance Henriksen ... Emil Fouchon
Douglas Rye Douglas Rye ... Frick (as Douglas Forsythe Rye)
Mike Leinert Mike Leinert ... Frack (as Michael D. Leinert)
Yancy Butler ... Natasha 'Nat' Binder
Lenore Banks ... Marie
Willie C. Carpenter ... Elijah Roper (as Willie Carpenter)
Jean-Claude Van Damme ... Chance Boudreaux
Barbara Tasker Barbara Tasker ... Waitress
Kasi Lemmons ... Det. Marie Mitchell
Randy Cheramie Randy Cheramie ... Shop Steward
Eliott Keener Eliott Keener ... Randal Poe
Robert Pavlovich ... Detective


Natasha Binder comes to New Orleans looking for her father, who has gone missing. In doing so, she meets a very hard man called Chance. He helps her find out that her father was killed by an organisation who sell the opportunity to hunt human prey. They are taking advantage of a police strike in New Orleans. Will the Muscles from Brussels win through? Written by John Hartnup <hartnupj@cs.aston.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Catch him if you can. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a great amount of strong violence, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | French

Release Date:

20 August 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hard Target See more »

Filming Locations:

White Castle, Louisiana, USA See more »


Box Office


$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,106,500, 22 August 1993

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (cut) | (unrated) | (Workprint Version)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (4 channels)| DTS



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


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. See more »


The van parked behind Randall Poe's car keeps changing position. See more »


[first lines]
Douglas Binder: [trying to open a locked door] Please...
See more »

Alternate Versions

The German retail video version is rated "Not under 16" and runs only 75 minutes. The rental video carries a "Not under 18" rating and features the uncut R-rated theatrical print. The German DVD version carries a SPIO/JK approval and features the unrated print with a running time of 95 minutes. See more »


Followed by Hard Target 2 (2016) See more »


Born On The Bayou
Written by John Fogerty (uncredited)
Performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Competent action thriller
2 July 2012 | by DaRick89See all my reviews

As with many action movies, Hard Target's strengths and weaknesses are fairly simple to analyse. It's a competent action thriller, notable for some stylish action scenes that have John Woo's touch; one particularly memorable example is when Chance Boudreaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) quite literally blasts a bikie thug out a window with a shotgun and a petrol can! These moments pretty much make the film worth seeing by themselves, despite the usual weaknesses in the plotting and JCVD's ever wooden countenance. As JCVD himself noted however, viewers paid the money to see him waste bad guys and he does plenty of this - sometimes in more inventive ways than expected (using snake traps). It very much makes the film worth seeing for action buffs, even though I'm reluctant to give a really high rating based on this alone.

The plot is not too extraordinary: a homeless veteran gets murdered by a team of mercenaries led by Emil Fouchoud (Henriksen) and Van Cleaf (Vosloo), after which his daughter Nat (Butler) comes looking for him and commissions Boudreaux, a homeless Cajun merchant marine (!) to help her out after he rescues her from marauding thugs, raising the ire of the mercenary team. A few plot holes are obvious (shouldn't this mercenary team have been dealt with a while ago, police strike or not? Why is JCVD made a CAJUN?), but it works well as a vehicle for blowing stuff up and killing people.

The dialogue is pretty standard stuff: some profanity, some hilariously cringeworthy lines ("don't worry about Randall; he's all ears!) and some macho stuff.

As for the acting, the villains are better than the heroes. Of course, when JCVD is your hero, that's bound to be the case, with his unconvincing delivery. He has recently shown that he is capable of acting, but he was a long off that in 1993. Still, English is probably his third language (after French and Dutch); Yancy Butler has no such excuses, being quite wooden in a role that doesn't demand that much. Vosloo and Henriksen are much better though. Vosloo has that quiet menace that always makes him a good villain, while Henriksen goes from menacing and purposeful to merrily nuts as Boudreaux causes him more difficulties than expected. Even Wilford Brimley is amusing as Chance's crazy uncle, reeling off some zany lines.

In the end, Hard Target is not a great movie, but it's a competent action thriller with some nice stylistic touches from John Woo during the action scenes. Henriksen, Vosloo and Brimley compensate somewhat for JCVD and Butler, but you still shouldn't watch this film for the acting and especially not for the plotting. Action fans generally don't really look for either that much though, so that's alright. Movie- goers looking for a bit more will probably like some of the style, but won't find that much else.

3/5 stars

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