Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At

Hard Target (1993)

Jean-Claude Van Damme wants to know why a blood-thirsty army of hunters with automatic weapons would chase him through a Louisiana swamp. We're guessing it's that Belgian haircut

"Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In" for 8/20/93
By Joe Bob Briggs
Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, Texas

Once ever six months or so, you start seeing these articles everywhere about The Decline of Church, and how Nobody Believes In God, or else--my personal favorite--Everybody Believes In Their Own Personal God But Doesn't Wanna Go To Church Anymore.
And then, in order to prove all this stuff, they trot out statistics, like:
The Presbyterian Church has lost THREE MILLION MEMBERS since 1965.
Or, only 52% of the 18-year-olds think God is "very important" in their lives.
And then they act like, "What the HECK are we gonna do? Boy, are we screwed up. Wouldn't it be great if we all believed in God again?"
But here's my question about all this stuff:
If three million people quit the Presbyterian Church, maybe it was because three million people decided THEY DON'T BELIEVE WHATEVER IT IS THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH TEACHES. This is a GOOD thing, not a BAD thing. They did the HONEST thing and got their butts OUT of there.
And why wouldn't the Presbyterians LIKE it? You don't want three million people hanging around who are FAKING IT, do you? Won't you have a healthier church, now that all the deadweight is gone?
And then these same articles always go into how people are leaving the "mainline" denominations, like Methodist, Episcopal and Lutheran, and joining the "fundamentalist" denominations, like Catholic, Babtist, Mormon, and your various tongue-talkers. So, when I read this, I always think, "Then what's the big story here? A bunch of people got tired of the little faded-brick crackerbox jakeleg church where they were worshippin, and so they moved down the street to a BIG faded-brick jakeleg church, where they have a gym with Nautilus equipment in it."

In other words, nobody stopped believin in God. They just traded in the Episcopal God for the Jehovah's Witness God, or they started shaving their armpits and Hairy-Krishnaing all over the airport, or they pulled a Tom Cruise and started hanging out down at the Scientology Center, or they JUST DECIDED TO TAKE A BREAK and use phone sex for a while. They'll go back to church next year.
But I have a question for the media that's always stirring up this issue:
If all these religions are the same--so you guys can print your little charts of who's joining and who's changing and who's switching over--then how come His Polishness the Pope is the ONLY religious leader who gets major network coverage? You don't see the CNN crews showing up when the head of the Presbyterians holds a "youth conference" and says, "Gee whiz! Three million quitters! What is this world coming to?"
Even the media has a PREFERRED church. It might change next year. But that's what it is right now--Catholic. It's amazing.
Here's how it works, people.
When a person is ready to die--I don't mean THEORETICALLY, I mean like TOMORROW he's dying--then ask him what his religion is.
He'll probly tell you the truth.
I doubt if he'll say, "You know what, I was kinda thinking about trying that Disciples of Christ. That sounds interesting to me."
Ask him two minutes before he croaks, and THEN publish the results in Newsweek. You know what I'm saying here?
Nothing else counts.

And speaking of people who need divine intervention, Jean-Claude Van Damme has a new one out called "Hard Target" that's got so many flying bloody bodies in it that when you drive out of the theater, you feel like you've been run over by a dumptruck. The only thing wrong is that Jean-Claude STILL CAN'T TALK. Hasn't this guy been in the country about ten years now? There are Pakistani cab drivers who got here LAST YEAR that can talk better than Jean-Claude. Get thee to Berlitz, my man, before we have a roundup of illegal aliens from Belgium.

Anyhow, this was supposed to be the first big movie of John Woo, the Hong Kong genius who makes the greatest action flicks in the world, flicks like "The Killer" and "Hard Boiled" that are so violent they generally kill off seven, eight, stunt men a day JUST TO MAKE THE PICTURES LOOK GOOD. Woo was a cult hero of misfits like me up till now, and then he suddenly got hired for this $20-million flick with Van Damme.

Well, I hate to tell you this, but HE'S GOT THE SAME PROBLEM. His English is not good enough yet--which is okay, he just got here--and so he forgot to put any comprehensible English sentences anywhere in the movie. They wrote all these great Schwarzenegger-type one-liners for Van Damme, like when he blows away a bad guy and then leans over him and says, "Sorry about the shirt."

The problem is, Van Damme doesn't know what's he saying, and Woo doesn't know what he's saying, and so when he says it, everybody in the audience looks at each other and goes, "Wha'd he say? Something about a shirt?"

Fortunately, there are only about 16 words in the actual screenplay anyway, and the rest is non-stop exploding flesh. The great Lance Henriksen is a sadistic piano-playing killer who charges rich guys $500,000 to play a "game" where a homeless guy is given $10,000 and told that, if he makes it ten miles to the Mississippi River, he gets to keep the money. If he doesn't make it, the hunter gets to kill him. So we have all these goonies playing ring-around-the-homeless with motorcycles and vans and automatic weapons--until the kill the father of a bimbo who hires Van Damme to find out what happened. Seventeen car chases later, we end up in a Mardi Gras float warehouse somewhere out in the swamp country, where 20 guys go in after Van Damme, the bimbo, and bow-and-arrow-armed Wilford Brimley attempting to talk like a cajun. (It's not an attractive sound.)

I'll give you a hint: Lance Henriksen does NOT win.
Forty-nine dead bodies.
Shotgun to the neck.
Killer snake.
Two gunbattles.
Five motor vehicle chases, with crashes, fireballs.
Exploding house.
Exploding shack.
Exploding character actor.
Gratuitous purse-snatching.
Multiple Kung Fu.
Silver-arrow Fu.
English accent Fu.
French accent Fu.
Cajun accent Fu.
Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Eliott Keener, as a fat scuzzball who hires the homeless to hand out phone-sex fliers;
Lance Henriksen, as the guy who sells hunting permits, for saying stuff like "Careless and stupid and now you're sorry, too";
Arnold Vosloo, as the skinhead-looking hitman who says, "Randal, I come back here, I cut me a STEAK"; and, of course,
Jean-Claude, for doing this whole movie without disturbing the mousse in his do.
Three stars.
Don't show this one to Paul Simon.
Joe Bob says check it out.


Victory Over Communism! The Oodnadatta Drive-In Picture Theatre, in Oodnadatta, South Australia, where the ground is all red dirt and the kangaroos nip at your heels, still shows a double feature every Sunday at dusk, and most people don't even bother to bring their cars. They just stroll over and sit at the picnic tables. Sheila Fox of Haleiwa, Hawaii, writes "Cheers, Mate! Let's put another Paul Hogan on the barbie! Skewered!" Sheila reminds us that, with eternal vigilance, the drive-in will never die. To discuss the meaning of life with Joe Bob, or to get free junk in the mail and Joe Bob's world-famous newsletter, "The Joe Bob Report," write Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, TX 75221. Joe Bob's Fax line is always open: 214-368-2310.

Hey Joe Bob,
What are your thoughts on tattoos? I have a few excellent pieces imbedded beneath my skin including a lovely lass with a bodacious pair of ta-ta's. My girlfriend likes to believe it's her. It looks like her but her attributes don't quite swell to such proportions. Keep the words flowing and your ink pen full.
Idolizing you,
David and Bunnie
Mesquite, Tex.

Dear David and Bunnie:
My feeling about tattoos is that most of them have to do with people you're engaged to, married to, hopelessly in love with, or whatever. If I started putting women on my body when I was 18, I'd be a black man today.

Dear Joe Bob,
This past Sunday me and my buddy Troll the Barbarian were watching Rasslemania Vee-Aye-Aye, and after watching the catfight between Scary Sherry and Miz Elizabeth, Troll started telling me about the lesbo that manages the health club where he works as a trainer. It seems she was asking him about exercises to firm up her butt, and during their discussion she grabbed him firmly by the cheek to demonstrate the area she wanted to work on.
Our question is, does this count as a homosexual experience, even if the homo was, in fact, a member of the opposite sex? If not, does this make Troll a lesbian now? We really need your help on this one, cause Troll was sexually retarded as it was before this happened, but now he's completely screwed up! Take it easy,
Rev. Dan Cziraky
Newark, N.J.

Dear Dan:
Lesbian cheek-grabbing is perfectly normal behavior. I wouldn't recommend doing it to Anita Hill, but other than that, it's perfectly respectable.

Hey Joe Bob,
The drive-in lives in Saudi Arabia! I went to the Grand Opening of the Cement City Drive-In Theater, in Cement City, Saudi Arabia. It's over by the mess tent, past the medic's area, this side of the barbed wire.
Cement City itself is a teeming tent city with absolutely no redeeming value beyond the drive-In and the al-fresco johns.
On opening night, they ran Iron Eagle II and "Karate Kid III." Not quite "Saw," but better than anything I've seen in months. Only thing I've seen in months. Good points: weather was good, it was free, real jets flying over added to the soundtrack (definitely improving "The Karate Kid's" soundtrack). Bad points: No cars, trucks, or tanks allowed; no popcorn; no snackbar, and no intimate relations allowed, even after the flick.
Please, Joe Bob, use your considerable influence to get us some real drive-in movies.
Hasta la Riviera,
Cpt. Lyndal Davis
Saudi Arabia

Dear Lyndal:
Your description of Cement City made it sound better than half the drive-ins in America. And I bet no one ever shines his headlights on the screen. Count your blessings.

Dear Joe Bob,
I'll get right to the point(s). When you list number of breasts--say if you list 10 breasts--is that 10 women, or five? Of course if you list, say, seven breasts then that better be seven women or four women and one of them has a problem. Have I just answered my own question? Anyway, I'd feel better if I got your official explanation.
Also--what's aardvark fu? I really didn't have a clue until a recent column which specified multiple aardvarking ON THE BEACH. Now ruling out getting a tan, that only leaves getting it on--especially night scenes. But not necessarily. So if that's aardvark fu how is it related to the African beast that eats ants and termites?
Best regards, etc.
James (a.k.a. Teddy) Davis
Truth or Consequences, N.M.

Dear James:
You expect me to explain something as complex as the Joe Bob Breast-Counting Procedure in a FORMULA? Surely you jest.

Dear Joe Bob,
Have you ever noticed that they just don't make em like they used to? I've been having to RENT movies to satisfy my urges for blood, breasts, and beasts (but not necessarily in that order). The last decent flick I saw that was not on video was "Chopper Chicks in Zombietown."
I'm a 17-year old senior at Beaverton High School and I'm truly scared. I've been trying to enlighten my fellow students' dim lives with your bright literature, but only a few of them have seen the light.
I just don't know, Joe Bob. What the hell is wrong with everybody lately? They're all uptight about something. This is why I've been introducing you to my friends. You've taught me to loosen up and enjoy life, so I'm trying to help other people do the same. I've really been working on my girlfriend (in more ways than one), but she is really a tough one.
Well, I'll keep trying. I guess by trying so hard I'm breaking one of my ethics: "If at first you don't succeed . . . quit." This is all right because this is a worthy cause.
Keep on keepin on, Joe Bob!
Yours truly,
Matt Darcy
Portland, Ore.

Dear Matt:
Nobody at Beaverton High is going to get it. They don't have time to READ. It's a full-time job going to school.

© 1993 Joe Bob Briggs All Rights Reserved

For more of Joe Bob's pre-TNT reviews in Grapevine, Texas, go to his Drive-In Reviews Archive over yonder at www.Joe Bob

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