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The Hard Way (DVD)

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Genre: Action & Adventure / Theatrical Release: 1991 / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: John Badham / Actors: Michael J. Fox, James Woods, Stephen Lang, Annabella Sciorra, John Capodice ... / DVD released 2006-06-05 at Uca Catalogue / Features of the DVD: Dubbed, PAL, Widescreen

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    2 Reviews
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    • More +
      25.06.2010 22:11
      Very helpful
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      A little known gem of an action/comedy/crime movie starring Michael J Fox and James Wood

      - Cast/Credits -

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102004/fullcredits


      - Story -

      A film star who's disillusioned with playing unrealistic action heros in the movies decides that he wants to get a real insight into what its like to be a real city cop and so he's teamed up with a gritty New York cop, who wants absolutely nothing to do with him, as he tracks down a serial killer who kills people in nightclubs and who is only known as 'The Party Crasher'. However he has to put himself in danger in order to catch the killer, yet he's not allowed to put the actor in any kind of danger or the local PD will be in trouble, so will he manage to obey his orders (for that matter will the film star, Nick Lang) and will he manage to catch 'The Party Crasher' or not? you'll have to watch the movie to find out.


      - Thoughts & Opinions -

      I'll start off by saying that I hadn't heard of this movie, or I certainly don't remember hearing about this movie, until I saw it listed in the Radio Times as being shown at night on BBC1 and it had been given I think a four star rating, saying it was a action/comedy movie. Given that I was, as a child, a big Back to the Future fan (Michael J Fox plays one of the two main characters in this movie), this peaked my interest, so I decided to record it, even though it is nearly 20 years old and I was prepared to be disappointed, remembering that I had seen one or two of his other 'comedy' movies from the early 1990s and hadn't been overly impressed with them. Now I will gladly say that I was more than pleasantly surprised by this movie, indeed this is probably one of my favourite movies of his now, I really enjoyed it!.

      One of the main reasons I feel this movie works so well and is so good is the interaction of the two main characters (Nick Lang and John Moss) with both James Woods (no relation to Tiger, presumably? lol) and Michael J Fox giving good performances, though I would say that Woods is the better of the two actually, playing the introverted, cranky as all heck New York cop who wants nothing to do with this celebrity that has to be protected at all costs while somehow still getting an insight into what its like to be a cop. He very much doubts that such a person could ever understand what its like and there is some interesting dialogue to this effect, indeed part of the reason that the two characters are so notable is the sharp and witty dialogue. As well as this, there is a very good balance between the comedy elements/scenes and the action scenes, there are some pretty impressive car crashes, including one where a cop car flips over in slow motion repetitively while it also provides comedy in the dialogue at the same time. The mix of action, including fights and car chase scenes and comedy (which is part visual and part witty dialogue based) I thought was pretty spot on, though its not a movie to be taken too seriously but as far as it being an entertaining movie that will provide some exciting moments and some that make you giggle or laugh out loud, this is pretty good.

      Of course its far from a brand new movie but that also impressed me, I don't tend to be too keen on movies that seem really dated or use jokes that are dated and so on, thus I was baring in mind that I might have had to stop the movie and delete it if it was really boring but I honestly didn't need to, as you've probably guessed already. Yes it is somewhat dated in terms of the musical score slightly (by the way the hip hop/rap star 'LL Cool J' makes a brief acting appearance and one or two of his tracks also make an appearance in this movie too) and with the surroundings in New York and so on but it really didn't bother me too much, the dialogue didn't seem to have aged much and some of the scenes (particularly the car chase scenes) still seemed visually impressive, so I feel it still works. I will say that I did laugh a bit at one scene which involved the villain of the movie playing out a computer game simulating his 'dastardly deeds', wow how computer games have moved on since 1991 - talk about blocky graphics, it looked almost as life like as Pac Man lol but no, I wouldn't say that the fact that its not a particularly new movie really spoils it or outdates it tremendously.

      On to criticisms and for those of you who perhaps don't like Michael J Fox's kind of hyperactive type characters or performances, you probably won't be so keen on this movie, although it is of course true to say that Woods' character does take the 'what-not' out of Fox's character for this in a way but there are scenes when Lang is on his own and he has his usual 'oh I can do this, I can be the big guy and help out' (when such 'help' is really not needed) attitude which may irk viewers who aren't fans of this, I suppose, so that is perhaps worth baring in mind.

      Another thing that I feel I ought to mention is that there is a fair amount of violence and moreso really quite strong language, indeed this movie is rated 15, so as much as Michael J Fox is known for the rather child or family friendly Back to the Future movies, this movie isn't suitable for children really, which I admit I found rather refreshing for some reason, to see him in a bit of a more meaty role I suppose - given the story with his character wanting to learn what its like to be a cop to get a more serious role in such a movie is ironic as like I say this movie itself has Fox appearing in such a more grown up type movie (the humour is somewhat childish and its not grown up as in strictly intellectual, apart from some witty dialogue but you know what I mean). You could say that some of the comedy has been done before and the story is probably not entirely original but Woods' and Fox's performances really make it that bit better than it may have been otherwise and so I forgive it for that aspect.

      Perhaps I'm being too kind, its hardly a genius masterpiece of a movie I suppose but I only know that I was pretty impressed with it and laughed quite a few times while I watched it, so I can't say much to criticise it as I certainly found it quite entertaining.


      - Would I Reccomend It? -

      Hmmm thats a tough one, let me think - yes I would!. This is possibly not going to be for everyone (but what movie really is?) but for me personally, I really quite enjoyed it and found it pretty entertaining. The two main characters were particularly well portrayed and I liked the dialogue, the mix of comedy and action and I was suprised that even though its almost 20 years old, it didn't spoil it by seeming overly outdated. This is a pretty decent, entertaining action comedy movie thats well worth a watch - as long as you can stand another rather hyperactive (and somewhat ego driven though not on the actors side as such but not in terms of the character he portrays) performance from Fox, just be aware of the 15 rating and don't let young kids watch this unless you want them exposed to some pretty strong language and some violence (which I don't think was very graphic/bloody but all the same).

      I hope you found my review useful, as ever thanks for any and all r/r/c's. This review is also posted on Ciao! UK under the same username.

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      • More +
        19.05.2010 10:54
        Very helpful
        (Rating)
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        Worth a watch.

        I saw recently for the first time The Hard Way starring a young Michael J Fox and James Woods. Made in 1991 I can't even remember the film being out at all so when it was on the TV I thought what have I to lose, apart from a couple of hours! This must have been made in Michael J Fox's hay day when he must have continuously been in the cinema for one film or another.

        In this film Michael J Fox pretty much sends himself up as he plays a young bored and to be quite honest cheesy Hollywood star, famous for his Smoking Gunn movies based on an Indiana style character. Here Hollywood glamour meets New York reality when Nick Lang (Michael J Fox), movie star wants a role as a gritty New York cop but the studio won't even see him or consider him for the part. Nick cooks up a plan to shadow Lieutenant John Moss (played by James Woods). John Moss is a hardnosed, street wise cop who doesn't always play by the rules and is on the trail of a serial killer "the party crasher". When John's boss gets the call from Hollywood after seeing a mad John on the TV, he gets pulled off the case and told to baby sit the movie star. Now true to form this doesn't go down very well and we have some witty banter and sharp dialogue going on between Nick and John and also plenty of action and chaos.

        Sure the film is a little formulaic and there are few surprises along the way, but thanks to Michael J Fox and James Woods the film is far more entertaining than I expected and was much better than I had given it credit for. There are also some great supporting roles Stephen Lang as the psychopathic serial killer, Delroy Lindo as the star struck captain and Annabella Sciorra as Woods long suffering girlfriend.

        It isn't the most intellectual film but who cares that wasn't what I was looking for. This film is a check your brain out for a couple of hours and relax and enjoy!

        James Woods and Michael J Fox are both excellent in their roles and they really make the film what it is, a funny blend of action and comedy that while it may be almost 20 years old doesn't lose too much, in fact that almost adds to the charm of the movie.

        Worth taking a look at particularly if it's on TV. You can purchase it on Amazon for the bargain basement price of £3.93.

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