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Hard Target - Ultimate Cut.

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Hard Target is 20 years old this year so I thought Id finally finish my fan edit which originally began on VHS 15 years ago!

PM me for Details.


Hard Target - Ultimate Cut


Synopsis

In the City of New Orleans, Chance Boudreaux (Van Damme) is hired by Natasha Binder (Yancy Butler) to help find here estranged homeless father. quickly they become the target of an evil mercenary (Lance Henriksen) who recruits homeless combat veterans for the ‘amusement’ of his clients who will pay to stalk and kill the most challenging prey of them all.... Man.


John Woo’s Hollywood debut see’s him electrifying deal with classic ‘Most Dangerous Game’. Shot with a modest budget & featuring some of the most extravagant action sequences ever put on film. Woo took Hollywood action cinema to new heights combining the Kick Boxing style of superstar Van Damme with his own explosive flair.
But Hard Target had to deal with studio politics, an actors ego and a NC-17 rating resulting in the film being re-cut and released in various forms.

 

Intention Of the Edit

The 'Ultimate Cut' is a 'Fan Edit' built from the various available versions of the film.
This cut contains a few tweaks and complete re-edits to bring it as close to John Woo’s original vision in DVD Quality.  The 'Ultimate Cut' follows the plot structure of the ‘Sneak Peek’ cut and contains an alternative audio mix including different music cues and enhanced effects.
The Ultimate Cut is not a reconstruction of the 'Sneak Peak / Work-print but a version close to its mood.



Sources used, & Work done

R4 DVD - 720x576i 16.9 25 fps - 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Conversion to 23.976 and colour corrected due to poor transfer, way to dark! Encoded Digital 5.1 Audio to 5.1 pcm and did a bit of tweaking. Creating .avi & 5.1 wav

R1 DVD - 720x480i 16.9 29.976 fps- 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Conversion to 23.976 using Pull down. Encoded Digital 5.1 Audio to 5.1 pcm and did a bit of tweaking. Also Ripped the trailer which was 4:3 and converted to 16.9 and tweaked to match the film as much as possible. Needed a couple of shots not in any of the released versions. Creating .avi & 5.1 wav

HDTV Rip - 1280 x 720p - 23.976 fps 2.0 Dolby Digital. 

Created .avi & 5.1 wav

'Sneak Peek' Work-print VHS Rip - 720x480i 4:3 29.976 - Mono Dolby Digital.

Encoded Digital Mono Audio to pcm and did a bit of tweaking. Creating .wav

Original CD Soundtrack - 44kHz Stereo

Ripped to .Wavs 

No Mercy R1 DVD 720x480i - 29.976 - 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Needed a shot so encoded only that bit. Created .avi

John Fogerty- The Long Road Home CD

Used 2 Creedence Clearwater Revival tracks from the CD

Fortunate Son & Down On the Corner. (Born on The Bayou was used in the closing Credits and thought these were consist ant with that) Created .wavs


Video

The resulting files looked good. R4 looking the best. The R1 DVD is pretty poor compared but only need a few shots from it.
I later came across the HDTV rip which is of the 'U.S Theatrical Cut' but had a logo in the corner. Using a combination of frames from the R4 video I used After effects to cover the logo with video from just that area. If that was impossible I just cropped into it.
The edit consists mainly of the R4 video but I used the R1 / HDTV where I needed it for the alternative shots. As mentioned I followed the structure of the 'Sneek Peek' Work-print so moved scenes around accordingly.

I uprezzed the final to 720p for the BD9 Disc.
 

Audio

Audio was pretty good quality but tweaked it to make it pop. I used the R1 cut mainly and added in the R4 for moments and the entire ending. The mixes differ slightly.
I used some dialogue snippets from the 'Sneek Peek', cleaned them up and blended them the best I could with the main audio. These include -

  • Replacing dialogue through out where the production audio flowed better (Hard Target had alot of ADR done)
  • Additional Dialogue not included that I thought fit.

 

I used alternative music cues in some moments from the Soundtrack CD and the Creedence Clear Water revival tracks. Plus added Aditional Sound Effects throughout e.g Bullet Ricochets.

 

Disc Details 

BD9 / AVCHD on a Dual Layer 8.5gig with menus and patched for PS3 support. 

  • Video - H264 1280x720p 23.976
  • Audio - Track 1 - Dolby Digital 5.1 640kbps. Track 2 - DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 core 1509kbps.



Final Thoughts

If you get to see this I hope you enjoy. There are a few problems with it still that I could tweak a little, but Ive got to put this behind me. Its been taking up way to much space on my hard drive and Brain. There maybe a V2 of the Edit in the distant future but for now I'm happy with this version.
I may do a Disc with all versions of the film on 1 Blu-ray disc / DVD set but I do not have a BR burner at present and Ive other projects to attend to.

Cheers All

Commodore Schmidlapp.

This post has been edited.

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PM sent :)

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Oh my Lord, YES! Cannot wait to check this bad boy out! I bet this is awesome, man.

GAV

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I just saw this a few days ago and it's a big improvement over the R1 DVD in terms of picture and sound quality. The cuts are seamless and the final shootout in the factory has a lot more shooting and gore and scenes that were completely removed from the R-rated US cut. I have only seen the movie once on DVD since I saw this so my memory of the movie is not spectacular but there are a number of gore shots added back into this movie throughout the film that were cut.

 

Overall, you will not be disappointed! I want to say thanks to Commodore Schmidlapp for all of the hard work! 

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singhcr said:

I just saw this a few days ago and it's a big improvement over the R1 DVD in terms of picture and sound quality. The cuts are seamless and the final shootout in the factory has a lot more shooting and gore and scenes that were completely removed from the R-rated US cut. I have only seen the movie once on DVD since I saw this so my memory of the movie is not spectacular but there are a number of gore shots added back into this movie throughout the film that were cut.

 

Overall, you will not be disappointed! I want to say thanks to Commodore Schmidlapp for all of the hard work! 

Thanks singhcr.

The gore shots you are referring to are from the european cut and make the film alot more in line with John Woos Hong Kong movies.

Glad you enjoyed and thanks for the feedback.

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Well-edited. Lot more better that the normal R-Rated cut. Damme cool. Hats off!!

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Is there a reason why you chose to use the R-version of Douvee being shot in the leg and not the close-up from the International version?

GAV

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GavSalkeld said:

Is there a reason why you chose to use the R-version of Douvee being shot in the leg and not the close-up from the International version?

I used the R-rated version because later on I used the Unrated version of the leg shot to try and recreate where a hired gun is shot at the top of the stairs at about 1hr 24mins, it was never shown Van Damme shooting at him but you see the hired gun fall in the background.

I tried to recreate some other detail from other sequences present in the work print with alternative and repeat footage but they did not work.

I thought this one worked o.k so left it in.

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LeonGaultier said:

Well-edited. Lot more better that the normal R-Rated cut. Damme cool. Hats off!!

Thanks LeonGaultier.

Damme Right.

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I used the R-rated version because later on I used the Unrated version of the leg shot to try and recreate where a hired gun is shot at the top of the stairs at about 1hr 24mins, it was never shown Van Damme shooting at him but you see the hired gun fall in the background.

 

You know, that was so neatly done I did not even notice! Nice one.

I do hope the footage exists from the 116m and 127m versions, so an official version closer to Woo's intentions can be seen.

This post has been edited.

GAV

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GavSalkeld said:

I used the R-rated version because later on I used the Unrated version of the leg shot to try and recreate where a hired gun is shot at the top of the stairs at about 1hr 24mins, it was never shown Van Damme shooting at him but you see the hired gun fall in the background.

 

You know, that was so neatly done I did not even notice! Nice one.

I do hope the footage exists from the 116m and 127m versions, so an official version closer to Woo's intentions can be seen.

Awesome. Thanks. It still pops out to me lol but I know its there.

I hope the footage still exists also. Would be happy just to get a high quality telecine of the workprint released as an extra on a BD release. But a full Directors cut would be the right way to go.

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My worry is it just won't happen. Woo is not exactly a big player in Hollywood and the film is not all that popular. I've always loved it, and clear others do too, but I just cannot help but think that the best will happen is a US version of the unrated (European) cut. That would be something, of course, but a proper extended version would be a dream.

GAV

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Im with you there GAV.

Red Scorpion the Dolph Lundgren movie, got a great release on BD in the u.k by Arrow films. I only hope a label like this gets the rights. But its a major studios back catalogue release and normaly there fairly standard. The various Army of Darkness releases over time always gave me hope there could be a release, with it being the same producers Renaissance Pictures.

Glad you enjoyed it, fingers crossed here for the BD release.

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Well on just one viewing, I've already learned a lot, LOL.

Namely, that compressing something in .RAR format splits a large file into parts, and that uncompressing creates a new file based on the sum of those parts, resulting in the 8GB file.  Fortunately my laptop came with an ISO viewer (something else I learned at about 1130 last night) so I immediately loaded up your edit.

Overall I was thoroughly impressed your vision... and noticed a lot of similar changes that I would have made as well.  It was like watching the movie through new eyes.  It had been a few years since my last viewing, but I was still able to see some standout differences from the original version. I wanted to comment on a few things, if you didn't mind. It will probably take another viewing to absorb everything but these were just some things off the top of my head.

1. Different Universal Logo title. Caught me completely off guard. I liked it. Was this the alternate clip you had added from another film?

2. Binder jumping into the shack before it blows up, from the trailer. This was perfect, and exactly how I had imagined it would look.

3. Different music cues. Did you take these from the original CD soundtrack? Overall, I think I really liked these changes. Completely changes the mood and feeling for their respective sequences. ESPECIALLY Chance's street fight after first meeting Natasha. Keeping it closer to Woo's first cut really adds another dimension of suspense and danger to that scene, instead of it just being another scene where Van Damme sleepwalks through a butt-kicking. The two music variations I'm still back-and-forth on are the additional Creedence songs. I love CCR as much as the next guy, but I still haven't made up my mind if I like the addition or not. It could be because I'm so used to hearing Creedence in every single Vietnam War movie ever made.

4. Different plot structure edit. I think you've convinced me to finally realize that Woo's first edit sequence was the best.  Keeping the Mr. Zenan meeting before Chance's dogtag discovery makes a lot more sense, and now I'm scratching my head wondering why the US release changed things around. LOVE the transition between Van Cleef plunging the scissors in the door and Fouchon's piano sequence.

5. Mr. Zenan's hunt. I noticed right away the different sound effect you used for his gun. I like it, but again I'm kind of back-and-forth on it. I understand why you did it, since the gun has a suppressor.  Speaking of sound effects, I probably did myself an injustice listening to this through headphones on my laptop. Hopefully soon I can get this baby on disc so I can listen to it through surround sound.

6. Overall lighting. I think I may have noticed some scenes being a little 'brighter', did you mention before that you had lightened up the night scenes?

7. Motorcycle surfing scene. PERFECT. I saw where you had trimmed off just enough of the motorcycle stunt where Chance wasn't balancing himself while standing on the bike. That has ALWAYS bugged me and I'm glad to see that it most likely had bugged you, too :)

8. Uncle Douvee montage sequence, when he throws Chance the shotgun. I thought this was beautifully done, and mirrors the Woo edit perfectly, but once I saw it I knew that you were going to have to make some kind of change at the end of the movie, resulting in a quick edit when Chance kicks the burning plank in half.  I'm really torn on this.  I like the montage in BOTH sequences, so I really don't know what choice I'll make when it comes time to put my edit together.

9. The final gunbattle. Great as always, I didn't really notice very many changes except for the part when Chance hits Jerome at the top of the stairs. Did you flip another scene with Jerome to get that effect? I'll have to watch again to get a better look. I imagine it was probably tough to get it to look and flow just right so I commend your decision in doing that... I know that in the rough cut you can actually see Jerome getting shot but the quality is just too bad. That would probably be one of the areas I would try to work on cleaning up when I get around to working on an edit.  Incidentally, there are a TON of scenes I'd like to clean up, but am wary of the time it's going to take to do that.

10. The wipe transition when Fouchon finds dead Van Cleef. This was probably, overall, the one thing that stood out to me that I was unsure of. But you know, I am racking my brain trying to figure out what was originally there in the US version? I think it could work maybe... I don't know, it still sticks out in my mind. Maybe it happens too quickly after Chance aces Van Cleef... which might be why the US version added a short scene of something in between to break it up a little.  And then again it's probably just a preference thing.

 

My overall thoughts of your edit are that I want to congratulate you on such a fantastic job. Changing the music cues and shifting the plot sequences back to the original cut really do wonders in making it more like Woo's original cut.  I noticed even more now that I like the bad guys in this movie WAY more than the protagonists, LOL, but I just chalk that up to Henriksen chewing up his lines just as he always does.  I also noticed some continuity errors that I'll have to add to my original list that might be able to be fixed in Photoshop (I'll never be able to afford something as grand as Vegas or After Effects so it'll have to be frame by frame for my version unfortunately)

But you have indeed inspired me to keep at it, and revive my efforts at making an edit of this movie, no matter how much or little time I can devote to it. As you can guess I will have a lot of questions along each step of the process, so I'll certainly appreciate any help or advice you can offer.  Thanks again for all the hard work you put into your edit, you did an awesome job and I was super pumped to be able to finally watch it!

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Excellent work Commodore! I can't really say anything that  hasn't already been said, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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I saw this on the web today along with an "October 18" release date, and just about hit the roof...... but I was just as quickly deflated when I saw "vandammefanz" down at the bottom of the case, LOL.  Unbelievable.  It was apparently part of an elaborate april fools joke and some people are still believing it.

 

And believe you me, I WANTED to believe it! hahaha....

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Sorry for late reply Justicefrog been busy with work and on another project and wanted to give this your post all my attention.

Thanks for your comments, you certainly know the film well and have picked up an alot of changes others ive talked in detail to have not. One of the reasons I did not do a cut list is because I did'nt want people to know what had changed before viewing to see if it gelled.

 

justicefrog said:

Well on just one viewing, I've already learned a lot, LOL.

Namely, that compressing something in .RAR format splits a large file into parts, and that uncompressing creates a new file based on the sum of those parts, resulting in the 8GB file.  Fortunately my laptop came with an ISO viewer (something else I learned at about 1130 last night) so I immediately loaded up your edit.

Overall I was thoroughly impressed your vision... and noticed a lot of similar changes that I would have made as well.  It was like watching the movie through new eyes.  It had been a few years since my last viewing, but I was still able to see some standout differences from the original version. I wanted to comment on a few things, if you didn't mind. It will probably take another viewing to absorb everything but these were just some things off the top of my head.

1. Different Universal Logo title. Caught me completely off guard. I liked it. Was this the alternate clip you had added from another film?

Yes, I added it from the Back To The Future BD, love this Universal Logo.

2. Binder jumping into the shack before it blows up, from the trailer. This was perfect, and exactly how I had imagined it would look.

3. Different music cues. Did you take these from the original CD soundtrack? Overall, I think I really liked these changes. Completely changes the mood and feeling for their respective sequences. ESPECIALLY Chance's street fight after first meeting Natasha. Keeping it closer to Woo's first cut really adds another dimension of suspense and danger to that scene, instead of it just being another scene where Van Damme sleepwalks through a butt-kicking. The two music variations I'm still back-and-forth on are the additional Creedence songs. I love CCR as much as the next guy, but I still haven't made up my mind if I like the addition or not. It could be because I'm so used to hearing Creedence in every single Vietnam War movie ever made.

Yes took the cues from the OST CD.

I wanted to add more music to help pace the scenes faster in the first half of the film. with them using creedence on the end credits i thought it would tie in nicely and add to the atmosphere. ;)

4. Different plot structure edit. I think you've convinced me to finally realize that Woo's first edit sequence was the best.  Keeping the Mr. Zenan meeting before Chance's dogtag discovery makes a lot more sense, and now I'm scratching my head wondering why the US release changed things around. LOVE the transition between Van Cleef plunging the scissors in the door and Fouchon's piano sequence.

5. Mr. Zenan's hunt. I noticed right away the different sound effect you used for his gun. I like it, but again I'm kind of back-and-forth on it. I understand why you did it, since the gun has a suppressor.  Speaking of sound effects, I probably did myself an injustice listening to this through headphones on my laptop. Hopefully soon I can get this baby on disc so I can listen to it through surround sound.

Took the sound effect from T2, Added it very late on in the edit once I put it in, then took it out. I missed it when I did one of my final watches so returned it.

I recommend wathing it on a Digital Surround Sound kit and use the DTS-HD track.

6. Overall lighting. I think I may have noticed some scenes being a little 'brighter', did you mention before that you had lightened up the night scenes?

I lightened up the whole film quite a lot as the DVD master I was using was to dark. It looked like it had been mastered with the wrong gamma settings. Maybe I went to far!

7. Motorcycle surfing scene. PERFECT. I saw where you had trimmed off just enough of the motorcycle stunt where Chance wasn't balancing himself while standing on the bike. That has ALWAYS bugged me and I'm glad to see that it most likely had bugged you, too :)

Everytime I watched it I would laugh for completly the wrong reasons.

8. Uncle Douvee montage sequence, when he throws Chance the shotgun. I thought this was beautifully done, and mirrors the Woo edit perfectly, but once I saw it I knew that you were going to have to make some kind of change at the end of the movie, resulting in a quick edit when Chance kicks the burning plank in half.  I'm really torn on this.  I like the montage in BOTH sequences, so I really don't know what choice I'll make when it comes time to put my edit together.

Tried both, went with sticking to the workprint. You maybe able to make it work better. Thought about using different shots for both sequences? maybe when/if the Bluray comes out.

9. The final gunbattle. Great as always, I didn't really notice very many changes except for the part when Chance hits Jerome at the top of the stairs. Did you flip another scene with Jerome to get that effect? I'll have to watch again to get a better look. I imagine it was probably tough to get it to look and flow just right so I commend your decision in doing that... I know that in the rough cut you can actually see Jerome getting shot but the quality is just too bad. That would probably be one of the areas I would try to work on cleaning up when I get around to working on an edit.  Incidentally, there are a TON of scenes I'd like to clean up, but am wary of the time it's going to take to do that.

Yes fliped and zoomed in on an earlier shot of Jerome (Did'nt know that was his name.) and fliped the shot of Van Damme at the bottom of the staires plus added a bullet hit to Uncle Douvee from the uncut version.

10. The wipe transition when Fouchon finds dead Van Cleef. This was probably, overall, the one thing that stood out to me that I was unsure of. But you know, I am racking my brain trying to figure out what was originally there in the US version? I think it could work maybe... I don't know, it still sticks out in my mind. Maybe it happens too quickly after Chance aces Van Cleef... which might be why the US version added a short scene of something in between to break it up a little.  And then again it's probably just a preference thing.

 

In the original version it cut to the Uncle Douvee and Natasha "I can not dance..." scene which Id used earlier on like it was positioned in the workprint. As those wipes are used earlier in the film a couple of times and in alot of John Woo films I thought it would work. Tried repeat footage ect but just did not work.

 

My overall thoughts of your edit are that I want to congratulate you on such a fantastic job. Changing the music cues and shifting the plot sequences back to the original cut really do wonders in making it more like Woo's original cut.  I noticed even more now that I like the bad guys in this movie WAY more than the protagonists, LOL, but I just chalk that up to Henriksen chewing up his lines just as he always does.  I also noticed some continuity errors that I'll have to add to my original list that might be able to be fixed in Photoshop (I'll never be able to afford something as grand as Vegas or After Effects so it'll have to be frame by frame for my version unfortunately)

But you have indeed inspired me to keep at it, and revive my efforts at making an edit of this movie, no matter how much or little time I can devote to it. As you can guess I will have a lot of questions along each step of the process, so I'll certainly appreciate any help or advice you can offer.  Thanks again for all the hard work you put into your edit, you did an awesome job and I was super pumped to be able to finally watch it!

 

Good luck with your edit mate and thankyou for the kind words, really glad you enjoyed it and let me know if you need any help Technical/moral support while you work on yours.

Fingers crossed on the Blu-ray, lets hope Universal hear our crys lol.

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crom said:

Excellent work Commodore! I can't really say anything that  hasn't already been said, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Cheers Crom, glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for posting a comment.

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Just saw this edit, and it's pretty fantastic, so congratulations there. I've never watched the full movie proper before hand and this was a great first watch. John Woo's first American film seems to be his most Hong-Kong influenced. The other American ones seem like a hodge-podge of Hong Kong stylistically and American cheese. The soundtrack of this edit was good, wherever you made changes: it was seamless and better yet, much appreciated. The slow motion was nice; was all of it in the theatrical edit? A very nicely done edit technically, with not much visible edits. The only complaint I have (more like a little peeve) is that a bit more color correction could have been done to avoid overly reddish-skin hues. A slight shift to green would have been nice. The video quality is good though for an SD to HD upconversion.

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Hi Aluminum Falcon.

Thanks for the kind comments. Glad you enjoyed it. Would be interesting what you would think of the Theatrical Cut with you having fresh eyes to it.

The Aluminum Falcon said:

The slow motion was nice; was all of it in the theatrical edit?

Yes didnt slow any down myself. The unrated cut of the film has more / alt angles in the last shootout, like repeat shots from different angles. Alot more like Woo's Hong Kong movies.

The only complaint I have (more like a little peeve) is that a bit more color correction could have been done to avoid overly reddish-skin hues. A slight shift to green would have been nice. The video quality is good though for an SD to HD upconversion.

Strange on my set up it looks alittle to yellow in the skin! will have to try it on a few different set ups.

Thanks again for your feedback.

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IcePrick said:

This might be of interest.

http://www.blu-ray.com/news/?id=11193

Given the fact how long this has taken to get a Blu-ray release, I was hoping they would finally release the Director's Cut but there's no mention of that.

I wonder which version it is? Got a horrible feeling its going to be the Theatrical Cut and not the unrated one.

Don't think were gonna get a Directors Cut, such a pity. Fingers still crossed.

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