Sunday, March 20, 2011

Moving Target (1996)

Moving target poster


Now the hunter has become the hunted!

Movie Review:

Moving Target 1

Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja) is Sonny McClean (not quite Bruce Willis' John McClane but close enough), a bounty hunter who chases down guys who have skipped bail, much to the distaste of his long-time girlfriend who wants him to get a desk job. After a hilarious first ten minutes of chasing a bad guy, accidentally interrupting someones bondage session (complete with whips and gimp mask), cuffing the bad guy to a radiator and dragging him along the road tied to the back of his car, Dudikoff collects his reward and returns home to another fight of words with his girlfriend. When he returns to his car he is met by an elderly Russian couple who plead with him to find their son, Jonish, who has skipped out bail. He initially refuses but a ten thousand dollar downpayment reluctantly convinces him.

Dudikoff sets out to a cabin in the woods where he was told that Jonish was staying. After pretending to be a Pizza delivery guy to lure him out, Dudikoff finally takes Jonish in at gunpoint. As they are driving away Jonish tells him that his parents died years ago which gets Dudikoff worried that it's all a set up. Of course it is and they start getting chased by two guys on snow-mobiles firing at them. Dudikoff crashes the car, Jonish is executed by his persuers and Duikoff is knocked out cold. When he comes to, Detective Don Racine (Billy Dee Williams) informs him that he is the prime suspect for the murder of Jonish. If that wasn't bad enough now the Russian mafia boss, who is the father of the deceased, is out for Dudikoff's blood.

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This was a pretty fun time. There's nothing that I would quite describe as explosive action; more like slightly singed action, so you better put a wet towel over it. That being said there is barely a moment when there is no action on the screen. Only the scenes when Dudikoff is quibbling with his girlfriend really have no action in them, and one of them does anyway - her birth class is interrupted by more thugs in motorcycle gear and machine guns, out to kill Dudikoff. Most of the action revolves around Dudikoff having a punch-on with Russian thugs or guys in motorbike helmets, fleeing armed attackers on snowmobiles in his jalopy and a few other shots fired here and there. The ending get's a little more explosive when rival Russian gangs break out the machine guns over a meeting table with Dudikoff stuck in the middle. There's a couple of funny moments in the fights, my favourite being when Dudikoff takes out a bad guy by throwing a billiard ball at his forehead and knocking the guy clean out.

It was also a little strange how the movie started off with Dudikoff being a bumbling bounty hunter and there being lots of comedy hijinks but then as the movie progressed it got slightly more darker and more serious. By the end there was no comedy left. It was an interesting way to change your perceptions of the character as the film played out.

Moving Target 3

Billy Dee Williams is just along for the ride in this and to add another recognisable name on the movie poster. The first time you see him is pretty hilarious; he's stumbling around drunkely in a bar until Dudikoff escorts him out. He's not very good at acting drunk so perhaps the producers thought "you know, I think we could reduce Lando's scenes a bit." Other than that, he plays one of the detectives at the police station and has a friendship with Dudikoff, similar to that he has with another officer Jake (Ardon Bess). Both inevitably get in harms way to help out Dudikoff, which is nice I guess.

Moving Target was produced in 1996 but it looks more like 1989. Dudikoff drives a beat up old truck filled with what looks like Christmas decorations and his denim jeans and puffy jacket betray the actual year. It looks like a sleepy town so perhaps that's why it feels older than it actually is. The synth rock music, complete with drum machine, positions the movie well as an 80's action thriller that sat on the shelves unreleased for the best part of a decade. Picking the bad guys as Russians also helps with this case.

Pretty good overall and it probably shouldn't be as it's not hugely memorable. Dudikoff kicks enough arse to keep you interested and I didn't yawn once. The film was directed by the guy that did Dolph Lundgren's Agent Red which I haven't checked out yet. I'd happily watch it again one day, and at 85 minutes it won't eat into your day too much. I paid too much for this at $12 new but without importing I don't think I'd have gotten it any cheaper. Worth checking out.

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The Video:

I reviewed the R4 disc put out by Force Entertainment a few years back. It sports a full-frame picture that looks like it was filmed for TV and probably was. Nothing remarkable but no particular issues either. The stereo soundtrack was clear though I had to crank the volume up a bit. Runtime 85 minutes.

Sourced From:

A random DVD shop which is probably luckier than you will normally get in Australia for this title. It would be easier for everyone else to just get the R1 or VHS from Amazon.


More Screens:

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  1. You and I are in total agreement on this one, not anything totally memorable, but nothing bad either, just a fun time.

  2. Yep, just a good time. Wish that Billy Dee did more in it, but you can't win them all.

    By the way, I use your blog on my phone when I'm in a shop looking at a DVD. I skip to the 3rd paragraph and look for the golden "This is a pretty sweet time" or "This is a sack of ass-crack". Normally I read your reviews in full but when I'm considering pulling the trigger on a purchase I just hit your A-Z list, find the flick, and look for the one line recommendation.

  3. Nice Write-up! Looks like a fun Dudikoff flick. It's on our list of movies to purchase!