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The Hard Way Review

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Jack Moss (Woods) is a cop out to get his serial killer man, and lets private life and mental and physical health suffer as a result. He has, reluctantly, allowed actor Nick Lang (Fox) to tag along for the man-hunt so that Nick can land himself a role playing a cop like Jack.

★★★★

New York cop Jack Moss (Woods), obsessively dogging the trail of a snickering bleached-blond psychopath who calls himself the Party Crasher (Lang), is so wrapped up in his job that everything else, from his girlfriend (Sciorra) to his mental and physical health, has to come a distant second behind his overriding need for violent justice. Hollywood heart-throb Nick Lang (Fox), tired of fantasy action films with roman numerals in the title, wants to play a tough cop just like Moss, and wangles a chance to go on the streets with the tough guy so he can get the part. Moss, of course, hates the idea, but Lang proves persuasive, sticking to it even after ghetto gangbangers steal his cellnet phone.

John Badham, coming off the shabby vehicle of Bird On A Wire, takes this premise and wrings out the perfect epitome of what the script has Moss call "Hollywood horseshit". An exceptional escapist movie, it combines enjoyably sleazy urban thrills (listen to Woods' dialogue and you'll be able to expand your vocabulary by 38 new obscenities) with good-natured but daffy Hollywood parody (Fox' introduction scene is a parade of non-stop insider gags and bitchy remarks). The stars, effectively mismatched, play together very well, with the lightweight (and shortarse) Fox tagging along amusingly behind the driven, neurosis-fuelled hardman Woods. And while Woods teaches Fox to be a psycho hero, the screen lover takes time to help the cop forge a relationship with his girl.

In addition to star chemistry and in-jokes, The Hard Way has all the required custom features, to whit, one excellent heroine who holds her own in fights and arguments, one superb villain who genuinely enjoys torturing and killing innocent people, one soundtrack crammed with inventively borrowed urban sounds (LL Cool J drops in for a cop cameo, too) and a stunt-filled finale with the principles dangling from a giant model of Fox' face over Times Square. Highly recommended.

With star chemistry and in-jokes, The Hard Way has all the required custom features, to whit, one excellent heroine who holds her own in fights and arguments, one superb villain, one soundtrack crammed with inventively borrowed urban sounds (LL Cool J drops in for a cop cameo, too) and a stunt-filled finale with the principles dangling from a giant model of Fox' face over Times Square. Highly recommended.

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