DIRECTOR: John Badham
May Contain Spoilers!
I first saw this film in what for me, was a golden year of cinema, 1991 . John Badham at his best, is one of my favourite 80’s directors, with films such as War Games and Blue Thunder standing out as his best work.
The Hard Way is a lost comedy classic in my view, witty, funny, sharp and action packed, with Rob Cohen serving as 2nd Unit Director. The simple cine-literate premise of Michael J. Fox’s megastar actor, Nick Lang coveting the role of a hard-nosed cop in his desire to move away from his Indiana Jones style action adventure persona, asked to be teamed up with the hardest and most ‘Real’ New York cop possible, in the form of James Woods.
Woods really goes to town on his character, John Moss, as his anger issues present themselves in the form of hyper active rants, brought on by Fox’s naive desire to get under his skin. The film is filled with action cues that serve the comedy well, but at its heart, this is a straight forward comedy action satire, self-referential and lovingly poking fun at everything from blockbusters, to cop clichés.
Like most of Badham’s work, this has been relatively forgotten and I can see why, as this is a VERY 80’s/90’s crossover, and has become a little dated as such, but for those of us with a taste for that era of escapist cinema, The Hard Way is a pleasant break from so many more serious and brutal actioners of the day.
And even though the film has fallen into relative obscurity, it has been referenced on more than one occasion, most notably in the 1994 Simpson’s episode, “Homer & Apu”, where playing himself, he took on a similar role to Fox as he was getting into the role of a convenience store manager in Apu’s absence.
Both Woods and Fox were both excellent, playing the roles to both their strengths, Fox still playing Marty McFly and Woods, well, just James Woods which is hardly a bad thing.
I would highly recommend this film. Highly enjoyable for those of us with a soft spot for the early 90’s action and any James Woods fans out there who haven’t seen this.