Cinerama: The Hard Way

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Cinerama

The Hard Way

By Mike Derderian

Nothing comes easy; “a piece of cake,” they say. Well, I hate cake. Why? I don’t like sweets for they are difficult to swallow. Am I mad or is it the same about everybody’s job; to polish one’s personality and efficiency in order that, in a few years time, a person might look back and say this is the end my friend: But I did it my way, the hard way.

Do we all share this sentiment or is it the individualistic empathy that succumbs our weaknesses of self-proclaimed sacrifice that rings no bell to our superior’s ears? You are part of the machine; you are of no significance whatsoever.

“You are a cog in a wheel rotating towards an infinite knowledge that goes beyond thy weak mind, my friend,” retorted the robotic unit. “We are the future. Our integrated plasma chips and platinum body-casings stand proof to our supremacy opposite your organic fragile textures in the long run.”

The above text was inspired after a rather brief interval with my editor on whether an ensuing robot supremacy era is no longer a piece of fiction, cultured out of one of Issac Asimov’s novels.

Nothing comes easy, but a time where robots will govern our world is surely to come even if it was in the hardest of ways. If you haven’t guessed by now that this week’s film is John Badham’s 1991 The Hard Way that’s your problem.

Starring James Woods, Michael J. Fox, Annabella Sciora and Stephan Lang as the Party Crasher, The Hard Way is a non-stop fun combo of Die Hard (John McClane’s attitude), the French Connection (bed and handcuff scene) and Midnight Run (offbeat humor). So fasten your seatbelts, this is one ride you won’t forget.

An action flick with a comic click not to mention a dose of great acting on the part of both Woods, as the good guy for a change—if you’ve seen The Onion Field then you’d know what I mean—and Michael J. Fox as Nick Lang, a Hollywood superstar studying cop personas for his next thriller. Lang manages to improvise his own cop philosophy after stealing the words of Woods’ character, New York Police Department (NYPD) Detective Lt. John Moss.

Before you go and rent the video or DVD I should warn you that this isn’t an average Michael J. Fox family-film to watch with kids. It includes a lot of cursing and sexual implications with no actual graphic display, however, so no need to panic or red alert.

Both characters—the hard boiled cop, who would do anything to bring down a felon to justice, and the much pampered Hollywood icon, who thinks that he can simply tag along the men in blue for a quick drama lesson—offer a non-mixing on screen charisma that will turn this piece of action into an all-time classic.

Now you might ask, what was the X factor that led to establishing the film’s magic? The answer was Badham’s vision in placing one of Wood’s previous stiff-lipped characters, Lloyd Hopkins, from a 1988 film called Cop with a sharp witted actor looking for a script in one movie. Even though I saw this film a long time ago, it always reminds me of my visits to the video store ten years ago in search of good films based on the cast and this was definitely one of them.

As every Hollywood cop story, Moss’s life is not void from a turbulent in the bud  relationship with a woman. This woman is Susan (Annabella Sciora), who with her daughter Bonnie (a very young Christina Ricci) finds herself loving the rough copper despite of his somehow alienating personality.

No thanks to Ray Casanov, the alias by which Lang decides to go undercover, Moss’s job and personal life turn into a living hell as the actor tries to mimic, record and unintentionally impress his girlfriend with his flamboyant character that will also provide quite a laugh.

The Hard Way is packed with hair raising sequences like the police car hijack in the market, the fight scene on top of the giant head model of Lang’s latest blockbuster character when all three Lang, Moss and the Party Crasher decide to crash and funny scenes when Casanov decides to pursue to subway robbers armed only with a rubber gun.

PS: the film’s soundtrack includes LL Cool J’s 1990 hit song “Momma Said Knock You Out” that was heard in the opening and end credits. LL Cool J not only contributed to the film’s sound using his motor mouth voice, but he was included in the cast as one of the police officers appearing in this film which marked his debut in the movie business.

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