Review by Gordon Justesen
George C. Scott, Peter Boyle, Season Hubley
Director: Paul Schrader
Audio: Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 108 Minutes
Release Date: September 14, 2004
it off…turn it off…TURN IT OFF!"
Paul Schrader perhaps made the first dark venture of its kind in the late 70s
with the intense drama Hardcore. The
film, though not as controversial now as it may have been then, is the kind of
character journey that only a filmmaker like Schrader would dare to pull off
then. Nowadays, many directors have taken similar trips to the dark side, the
best example being Joel Schumacher with his strikingly eerie thriller, 8MM.
credits include scripting the Martin Scorsese films Taxi Driver and Bringing out
the Dead and writing and directing the recent Auto Focus, is a filmmaker who seems to know the areas his films
take us. Most of the time, they are not often pleasant, but that's very much the
entire purpose of the journey; to make us aware that life isn't always the happy
image we so want it to be.
The story of Hardcore
is a definitive example of this type of story. It centers on Jake Van Dorn
(George C. Scott), a much religious businessman who resides in Grand Rapids,
Michigan. Jake appears to live a validly normal life, tending to his young
daughter, Kristin (Ilah Davis), and engaging with fellow devoted Christians for
Jake's life takes
an unexpected turn for the worse when he is told that his daughter went missing
in Los Angeles, while with a church group en route to a Christian-related
meeting in California. Jake doesn't even hesitate before flying out to
California to look for his daughter himself. Once in town, he hires local
private eye Andy (Peter Boyle) to help him in his search.
The private eye
eventually turns up a lead, but it doesn't make Jake any happier. The lead is in
the form of a looping film reel that shows Kristin engaged in a sexual activity
with two other men. Terrified beyond belief, Jake takes it upon himself to
locate his daughter, no matter what circumstances it will take.
There's no question
that the strength in the film is George C. Scott's monumental performance, which
is also something of a tour de force, since this is the kind of film he was
normally not known for doing. Scott, one of our all time greatest actors of
intensity and ferocity, makes us believe every hint of emotion that is displayed
from the character.
is a most effective film, there is one flaw regarding the film. After seeing the
aforementioned 8MM, it's hard to find
a much more impact-worthy, and for that matter a more disturbing, film with the
same kind of content. It's true that Schumacher's film was nonetheless inspired
by Schrader's film, but I guess in the end, all that it boils down to is the
fact that I saw 8MM first, and found
it to be the more effective of the two.
BONUS TRIVIA: The
early parts of the film take place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which also happens
to be Paul Schrader's birthplace and hometown.
Columbia Tri Star's
anamorphic handling of this late 70s pic is actually much better than I expected
it to be. At the same time, I wouldn't go so far as to say the presentation is
at a groundbreaking level. Picture quality adds up a balancing mix of good
enough clarity, especially in lighter tone sequences, to that of low level
clarity, most definitely in darker lit scenes which manage to accompany the last
twenty minutes of the film.
The 2.0 channel
track offers up what it can with a dialogue-driven film from the late 70s. While
dialogue is about the only thing I can rate the film on, along with occasional
music playback, the delivery is very well heard and delivered. With this kind of
sound presentation, you get pretty much what you expected.
The sole feature is
a bonus trailer gallery, featuring trailers for Big Fish, Secret Window and The
Opposite of Sex.