Mini Reviews: Hard Target / Payback

hard targetHard Target was director John Woo’s first attempt to break into the American market and stars Jean Claude Van Damme as a man out on his luck who decides to help a lady track down her missing dad, but find much more than he bargained for. Co-starring Lance Henriksen, Hard Target is a great introduction to director John Woo’s work, especially in this longer International cut of the film. When released in the USA the film got into a lot of trouble with the ratings board and the film had to be cut down a lot to receive an R rating.

This release by Universal is a big step up from the DVD release which was not even anamorphic. The 1080P picture is solid, clean if a little soft in places. Colours are good and fans should be very pleased with the transfer. Sound is fabulous, the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is strong, bass is powerful and the surrounds are used to great effect. Note you also get the DTS HD Master 5.1 in French dubbed track also.

Extras are nothing. That’s right nothing, not even a trailer. Come on Universal that is just plain lazy. The film has a big following and there were many making of featurettes i remember seeing when the film was released. Very Disappointing. Overall a recommended release. REGION FREE.

FILM: 8 PICTURE : 8 SOUND: 9  EXTRAS: 0

PAYBACKPayback starring Mel Gibson has been given a special edition release here in the UK, with both the theatrical cut and the directors cut on the disc (The USA release just had the directors cut). Gibson stars as Porter,  who with his pal Val decide to rob the Chinese mafia of a big money haul. The robbery is successful but Porter is double crossed by his partner and wife, shot and left for dead. But he survives and all he has on his mind is revenge and to get his money back. This is a fabulous film shot in the style of the early 70’s crime thrillers, grim, gritty, dirty. Porter is no saint and his no nonsense approach to things make him very much an anti-hero.

The directors cut is in my opinion the superior of the two. The theatrical is good, it added a narration to explain the story a bit more and  new characters including actor Kris Kristofferson. The directors cut has a more solid colour scheme, where the Theatrical had a more sepia tone added to it. Its fascinating to compare both versions and the extras help with a great documentary called Same Story – Different Movie: Creating Payback the Director’s Cut which is, a refreshingly honest look at the history of the movie, how the director eventually left the project, what went wrong and how it was fixed to suit the studio. It also is very interesting to see how they revisited the project years later and put together the directors version. Mel Gibson is honest about the project, he was a producer as well and says he could understand why the studio wanted changes made, especially the last part of the film.  The picture quality is solid, colours are bold and clean, especially on the directors version but both are very good. Sound again is excellent, English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 , the USA release only had a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, which serves the film perfectly, very spacious, both soundtracks on both versions sound fabulous. Extras are as mentioned the making of documentary plus an audio commentary and interviews. Another recommended release. REGION FREE.

FILM: 8 PICTURE : 8 SOUND: 7.5  EXTRAS: 8