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Hard Target


  • Unrated
  • Workprint
Release: May 14, 2024 - Author: brainbug1602 - Translator: Muck47 - external link: IMDB
The Unrated version was compared with the Workprint, both included on the German 4K Ultimate Edition from Plaion Pictures.
Criminal businessman Emil Fouchon organizes a manhunt in New Orleans for his wealthy clientele. The “living targets” are recruited from the homeless milieu. One of the victims is Vietnam veteran Douglas Binder, who has slowly re-established contact with his daughter Natasha. When Natasha tries to find her missing father, she gets help from the recently unemployed sailor Chance Boudreaux. The two of them get closer and closer to Fouchon until they finally become targets themselves...
In the late 80s/early 90s, John Woo was at one of the high points of his career in Hong Kong. Bullet in the Head and Hard Boiled are two outstanding action films that set standards for the genre. Hard Target is his US debut with Jean-Claude Van Damme in the leading role. Woo's unmistakable style, in which whole masses of people are gunned down in a stylized manner, had to be adapted to the mainstream market here. The action is just right, even if there is considerably less blood. Van Damme's footwork has been incorporated into the fights and, as usual, logic should not be taken too seriously. Hard Target is entertaining action fare, even if it never reaches the class of Woo's Hong Kong action thrillers.

The versions of Hard Target

Hard Target had to be censored to achieve the R-rating for thetheatrical release. Many of the action scenes in the prologue and finale were toned down. The unrated version is now quite common, as it was first released on DVD and then on Blu-ray in Europe. In the USA, only the R-rated version is available on DVD, while the Unrated version has been released on Blu-ray.

In addition to the R-rated and unrated versions, there are two other relevant versions of the film. One is the sneak preview version, which is a version recorded from a test screening. The sneak preview runs for approx. 117 minutes and already has music and finished effects. It was released as an Easter Egg on the French Blu-ray by ESC. There is also a workprint version of the film with a running time of just under 127 minutes. The workprint was previously only available on DVD from on-demand direct retailers, with very mixed picture quality. On 25.04.2024 Plaion Pictures released an Ultimate Edition of Hard Target. In addition to the R-rated and unrated version in 4K, it also includes the workprint. The workprint has apparently been resampled, as the picture quality is significantly better than on the DVD.

Workprint (DVD) Workprint (Plaion Blu-ray)

It should be emphasized that the workprint from the Plaion Pictures Blu-ray is identical to the previously available workprint version. The DVD only has one counter at the beginning, which has been removed for the Blu-ray, and the black frame at the end of the DVD is slightly longer. The workprint has two counters in the picture and an R insert. Apparently this refers to “Reel”, i.e. the film reel.


The changes to the workprint

The workprint of Hard Target is an early cut of the film. The music and effects are still missing in some places. There are opening credits, but the end credits are missing. With a running time of just under 127 minutes, the film is a good 26 minutes longer than the unrated version. Basically, the structure of the workprint is similar to that of the unrated version, although there are many minor additions. Sometimes scenes are only slightly extended or alternative material has been used. Almost every shot of the film is affected by such adaptations. The report is therefore very extensive.

In order to better crystallize the differences, there is an overview of all relevant extensions on the first page of the report. In my opinion, reading the first page is sufficient. The following pages contain the complete report with all the changes. It should be mentioned that minimal scene extensions or shortenings are not listed.
Basically, it is noticeable that the workprint shows a few additional scenes of violence compared to the unrated version, which apparently had to be removed. For example, you can see Randal's ear being cut off and the murder of Elijah is also really bloody. In the workprint he dies in a veritable hail of bullets, whereas in the unrated version he is only shot down briefly. There are also some new action scenes. For example, Chance talks a little more about her relationship with her father and Natasha and Chance get closer in a completely new scene. The many other additions are not necessarily of interest. It made sense to shorten many of the scenes to increase the pace of the movie.
The workprint is a very interesting cut of the movie, as additional action and violent scenes are included. The Blu-ray set from Plaion Pictures is highly recommended, as it contains the workprint in good picture quality. The box can be purchased directly from the Plaion Shop.
Picture comparison:
Unrated version:
Running times:
  • Unrated version: 99:39 min.
  • Workprint: 126:53 min.
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As already mentioned in the intro, the relevant extensions to the workprint are listed in the following section.


In the workprint, Binder manages to escape to the hut. In the unrated version, he is still outside the hut. This is one of the scenes that was in the trailer, but not in the R-rated or unrated version.

WP: 2 sec


In the workprint, Spades comes up to the man at the end from the hunt and says that he shoots like a fool and they'll charge double next time. This is followed later in the movie by another brief moment in which Pik speaks disparagingly about the hunters.

WP: 15 sec


The workprint has more dialog between Natasha and the landlady. The landlady says that Doug doesn't come here anymore and he already moved three months ago. The landlady wants to close the door again, but Natasha says that she only wrote to Doug three weeks ago. The landlady says that Doug picks up his mail from time to time.

WP: 17 sec


In the workprint, Natasha is invited into the apartment by the landlady. There is a fade to the birdcage.

WP: 10 sec


The landlady tells Natasha that she has offered to pay Doug's rent later. Natasha is seen earlier and wonders.

WP: 8 sec


In the WP, the landlady asks if Natasha didn't know that Doug lost his job. Natasha confesses that she had no idea.

WP: 6 sec


The photo of her father can still be seen in the workprint. Natasha pushes it back into the box. She pulls out a medal and says it's worth a thousand dollars.

A mission can be seen. Natasha looks around and finally sees Elijah. She asks if he works here and says she's looking for someone and gives him Doug's photo. In the unrated version, all this is missing and it fades directly from the picture to Elijah.

UR: 5 sec
WP: 1:12 min


The scene in which Natasha and Chance are driving in the car is much longer in the workprint. Natasha tells Chance about her relationship with her father.

Natasha explains that just a few months ago she didn't know where he was. Last summer, her father wrote a letter when she graduated from law school. She wanted to meet him, but her father said he was too busy. No more letters arrived for three weeks. Her father never mentioned that he was homeless. Chance says that it's hard for a family to lose their father. Natasha says that it's hard for a child to lose their father. Chance agrees.

WP: 53 sec


An additional violent scene: The workprint continues to show how Pik cuts into Randal's ear. This is followed by two bloody shots of Spades cutting off Randal's ear.

UR: 2 sec
WP: 5 sec


The scene in which Chance and Natasha talk in the bar is much longer.

In the workprint, Natasha says that she remembers when he came back from the war and how quiet he was. He sat in the dark and just listened. There are scenes of Binder hunting. Natasha goes on to say that she wanted to die when he left. She wanted to tell him that she loved him. Now she doesn't know if he loved her. Chance says that of course Binder loved her because he's her father. She asks why he didn't ask for help then.

WP: 1:18 min


Another violent scene as Chance is surprised by the men in the burnt-down hut.

The attacker beats Chance twice more.

WP: 3 sec


The workprint shows a scene in which Chance and Natasha approach each other. This follows after Chance gets into Natasha's car.

In the workprint, the image freezes when Natasha is seen, then she starts the car. The scenes are slowed down.

Chance's apartment can be seen. Chance asks if Natasha likes the interior, who says that Chance's wound should be stitched up and asks if Chance is going back to his ship. He says that he should since he also got his license back. Natasha asks him how he lost his license. Chance replies that it went overboard. Natasha asks if he has family. Chance talks about his uncle and the lights suddenly go out. Chance says that he's behind on his payments. Chance never knew his parents and was raised by his uncles in the Bajous. He asks Natasha. She tells him that she is from Michigan. Chance says that is a long way from the Bajous. Natasha says that it is very nice in Michigan. Chance slowly walks up to her and gives her a kiss. Natasha says that she better go now. She says that she didn't want this to happen before she leaves. Shortly afterwards, Natasha returns and says that she has changed her mind. Chance and Natasha kiss. An exterior shot of the apartment can be seen.

WP: 4:25 min


The scene in which Morton is shot in the head is longer in the workprint.

Morton can be seen for longer after he was shot in the head. Fouchon drops the paper knife.

WP: 2 sec


Another gory extension as Elijah is chased.

Elijah is seen earlier in the workprint. He is hit by a spade.

WP: 3 sec


When Zenan is shot by Fouchon due to his failure, this is bloodier in the workprint.

The workprint shows a close-up of Zenan as Fouchon shoots him, then there is an alternate shot of Fouchon saying that Spades should let the dogs go.

WP: 6 sec


The murder of Elijah is much bloodier in the workprint.

In the workprint, Elijah pulls himself together once more and is again bloodily riddled with bullets.

WP: 30 sec


The scene in which Marie is shot is also extended in the workprint.

In the WP you can see Marie being shot bloody. Cut to Natasha. The man continues to fire at Marie. She is hit again. Chance spreads his arms.

UR: 3 sec
WP: 7 sec


The workprint shows a bloody headshot.

Chance continues to shoot at the motorcyclist. He is hit in the helmet, bloody.

WP: 1 sec


As Chance and Natasha flee on the bike, the workprint shows a little more action.

The workprint continues showing Chance and Natasha driving towards the car. Chance fires at the car. The car swerves to the side and dances over a parked vehicle. The car explodes.

UR: 2 sec
WP: 21 sec


Only the workprint shows how Pik imagines which escape route Chance and Natasha could have taken.

In the workprint, one of the men looks at the tracks and then steps down from the rails. Two motorcyclists approach. Pik imagines Natasha and Chance fleeing from the tracks. The water under the bridge can be seen, then Pik is seen earlier.

WP: 59 sec


In the workprint you can see Pik imagining how Chance and Natasha walked through the water.

WP: 7 sec


Possibly a censorship cut of the Unrated version.

Chance holds the snake's tail in his mouth longer.

WP: 2 sec


Additional scene.

The workprint shows how Chance sets up the trap with the snake.

WP: 17 sec


When Chance and Douvee meet again, they start dancing in circles in the workprint.

UR: 1 sec
WP: 20 sec


In the workprint, Chance picks up the gun. He blows down the dust. This is followed by flashbacks to the people who have already died. In the unrated version, these flashbacks follow in the finale before Fouchon is killed by Chance.

WP: 56 sec


Additional violent scene as Chance flees from the helicopter.

The men try to pull their shot colleague back into the helicopter. Blood flows. The helicopter flies on. Cut to Chance.

WP: 9 sec


Possibly a censorship cut as Chance finishes off the hunters.

The man can be seen earlier. He is hit twice.

WP: 3 sec


Chance shoots another man in the leg.

WP: 4 sec


In further shots, Chance shoots the man with the hand grenade.

WP: 2 sec


The WP cuts to Fouchon, then Chance shoots another man.

UR: 5 sec
WP: 6 sec


The final scene is much closer in the workprint.

Fouchon is thrown backwards in the workprint. Chance unlocks the hand grenade and throws it to Fouchon. He grabs Natasha and takes cover. The hand grenade explodes in front of Fouchon. In the Unrated, Chance is attacked by Fouchon with a burning plank, whereupon Chance sticks the hand grenade in his pants.

WP: 25 sec
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