John Woo made an inauspicious American debut with "Hard Target," a balls-to-the-wall action movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme that features, among other things, homeless people being hunted for sport a la "The Most Dangerous Game," poisonous snakes, arrows through the neck, a major action sequence taking place in the hanger where they keep the Marti Gras floats and flagrant use of a Creedence Clearwater Revival song. In short: it's truly awesome. Overseen by Sam Raimi, who was there as insurance for a worried Universal Pictures (they were nervous about an Asian director being on the movie), the film was initially so extreme that it was awarded an NC-17 by the MPAA, necessitating something like 17 cuts before it even got an R. As it stands, the movie is the cult classic of junky action movies.
The "Fast and the Furious" franchise really hit its peak with "The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift," the first installment directed by Justin Lin, but there's something raw and uproarious and gleefully over-the-top about "Fast Five," which moved the franchise away from the muscle car race stuff and ...
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