With a furrowed brow passing for a performance, high-kicking David Bradley stars in this busy piece of deja-vacuity.
Maverick federal agent Nick Adams (Bradley) literally swings into the middle of an illegal arms deal in a garage and barely escapes a conflagration ignited by gangster Jimmy Wong (Yuji Okumoto). Nick gets his man, but at the cost of the life of an innocent hostage. Wracked by self-doubt, Nick
takes an undercover assignment that has already killed one buddy agent, in a penitentiary known for links to the underworld. Incarcerated Nick quickly sniffs out corruption emanating from deranged Warden Pike (Charles Napier) and barely survives day-to-day torment by gangsters who are using the
jail as a clearinghouse for firearms. With fellow agent Hannah (Benita Andre) his liaison to the outside, Nick's cover is jeopardized finds himself in jeopardy when Wong is transferred to his cellblock. After surviving a stabbing by Wong, Nick fails in a breakout bid. Hannah learns that their
government boss Dickerson (Clabe Hartley) is the mastermind behind the prison rackets. Unlocking all the cells, Nick starts a riot that gives him the chance to fight a half-dozen or so showdowns. He shoots Pike, divests himself of Dickerson during a helicopter wrestling match, and rescues Hannah
in a final battle with Wong.
HARD JUSTICE may set a record for the number of ancillary incidents squeezed into one pea-brained action flick, clearly aspiring to the manic high style of John Woo (THE KILLER, HARD BOILED) in a plot recycled from equal parts Woo and the Jean-Claude Van Damme prison thriller DEATH WARRANT (1990).
In aping his Hong Kong betters, 24-year-old director Gregory Yaitanes piles on pyrotechnic special effects and carnage, but so many beautifully timed near-misses and creative homicides dampen the film's energy rather than stoking it. "Never a dull moment" may be the credo of the action pic, but
beneath the growling and brawling we have to care for the characters, or at least for the mighty hero. But everything here is lost in an avalanche of stunts, explosions and subplots about colorfully-nicknamed jailhouse fixers and allies. Bradley always seems like a beefcake poster boy perplexedly
trying to recall the whisperings of an acting coach. Like the film he toplines, he lacks persuasiveness, a quality that allows bad actors like Schwarzenegger to get by on charm in between stunts. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity.)
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: R
- Review: With a furrowed brow passing for a performance, high-kicking David Bradley stars in this busy piece of deja-vacuity. Maverick federal agent Nick Adams (Bradley) literally swings into the middle of an illegal arms deal in a garage and barely escapes a conf… (more)