As I type this, I currently do not know under what category this film should be filed. Half of me thinks this should go in the heading “Treasure Hunter” as it’s an underrated gem of a film. Part of me thinks that it is more aptly filed in the “Case for the Defence”, and the reason for this is because it has been out for 19 years now, and if people haven’t still found it for the gem it is, then they never will.
So, how can I come to its defence. First of all, allow me give you a summary of the film. It’s all about a cat burglar, recently released from a long stretch in prison, who gets cajoled into doing a few more jobs stealing rare art pieces for a couple of rich yuppies. Unbeknownst to him, these art pieces contain parts of a crystal which, when assembled correctly and placed into a special machine, grants the user the ability to change lead into gold. As the film goes on, there are certain factions who either want the alchemic technology for themselves, or do not want anybody to have it at all, and it all comes down to which side the cat burglar will choose.
That is the very bones of the storyline, as I don’t want to give away spoilers. That being said, this summary does make it sound interesting. So why could it have failed and retired to the dustbin of history? It certainly wasn’t the story, and it couldn’t have been the casting as there are some major stars in this film.
The star of the film is of course Hudson Hawk, played by Bruce Willis. He’s an action film expert, so playing a character who has to do a lot of action, he does it well as you’d expect. His love interest is played by Andie MacDowall, who again is no bad actress. The villains then, they must be rubbish? Well, no. They are played by Richard E Grant (an English actor as a bad guy?) and Sandra Bernhard. Again, well played and particularly evil. When you throw in supporting actors like Danny Aiello, James Coburn and David Caruso (the ginger guy from CSI: Miami) this is no weak cast list here. So why did it fail?
The simple reason, in my opinion, is the target audience. This film can’t be considered a straight action film as it doesn’t take itself seriously. Similarily, it cant be considered a comedy as it’s too violent and gruesome. It also can’t be classed as an adult film as some parts are truly fantastical, yet it is too adult to be a family film. And that is why this film failed. It tried to target everyone, but because of that it alienated everyone who wanted to see it for a particular reason. For example, this film was too comical for the action heads who just wanted violence, but for the people who liked comedies, it was too violent. So it would appear, I’m not the only person who has trouble with categorising this film, and it’s most likely the reason why most people have never heard of it.
Funny thing is this; with the changes in cinema and the rules being less restrictive, if this film was released now, it would be classified as a 12A rather than 15, and it would be targeted to younger teens. As such, this film would probably have done well, a lot better I imagine than what it actually did on its actual release.
In all honesty, this film is a good one, and worth the watch. If you liked Demolition Man, chances are that you’d like this as the humour is very similar. This is a film that you most likely would find lining the bargain bins in your local dvd store, and for the sake of £3, you could do a lot worse than watch this film.