Arnold Vosloo should totally be a Bond villain.
I imagine that most people would know the South African actor from his role as The Mummy in The Mummy and the sequel The Mummy Returns, a film that featured 1) a man outrunning sunlight and 2) little pygmy zombies. They tripped me out, those little zombies. Arnold Vosloo was great in those movies; he could open his mouth really, really wide.
I am most fond of Arnold Vosloo's performance in Hard Target, the Jean Claude Van Damme action flick shot in New Orleans and directed by John Woo.
In the world I live in, Hard Target is a criminally underrated film. People can’t look past Jean Claude’s hair extensions and all the slow-mo and the doves and have I mentioned Jean Claude’s hair? He has a full-on mullet, a true Mississippi mudflap that tosses about beautifully when he runs in slow-motion, and he frequently does.
Anyway, Hard Target is a brilliantly macho movie, the kind of movie in which people strike poses for no reason and cemetaries are mysteriously stocked with glowing candles. New Orleans apparently has Candle People who come out at dusk and set up votive jars all over the city’s graveyards. A lot of the Candle People were put out of work after Hurricane Katrina due to a shortage in long-burning matches, the primary tool of the Candle People. I saw it on 60 Minutes, they did a whole thing about it.
For my money, the thing that raises Hard Target from mediocrity into awesomeness are the performances by Lance Fucking Henriksen and Arnold Vosloo as the main villains. They run a service that provides wealthy thrillseekers with armed manhunts – Henriksen’s motorcycle-riding MP5-wielding “dogs” harass and hunt a homeless person and the client administers the kill shot – for a price. A dangerous mulleted drifter named Chance Boudreaux is hired to look for a missing homeless man by the guy’s sister, and he stumbles across their plan. Cue the slow-mo explosions.
It goes without saying that Lance Henriksen is awesome in this movie, but Vosloo steals the show as Lance’s sadistic right-hand man, Pik. Vosloo understands that he is in a John Woo movie and he does a lot of vogueing and scowling and gun cocking and striding in slow-motion. Pik is a professional who really digs his job, and his interaction with Lance is the most interesting relationship in Hard Target.
Plus, Pik is an evil bad-ass. He and Lance need to clean up some loose ends before they leave New Orleans, so they kill this guy who has been helping them. Pik knocks on the door, and when the guy looks through the peephole…
Pik enters and looks down at the dead guy. He says to Lance, “What a funny little man, eh?” Sure, the whole gun-in-the-peephole gag has been in a thousand movies, but damn it, Hard Target did it best!
Vosloo’s best bit in the movie comes when he is cleaning up still more loose ends in the French Quarter. He puts a shotgun to the ear of a shady “recruiter” who has been getting them homeless veterans to hunt. The guy was going to skip town, but now Pik has him…
Pik blows the guy’s head off with his shotgun and the car’s windows explode in a bloody mess. Then – this is the best part – Vosloo peers down into the car at his messy handiwork and kind of laughs. It’s as if he’s saying, “Fuck, dude, I totally blew that guy’s head off.” Here’s what it looks like:
I’m telling you, that just seems like a Bondian moment to me. On the basis of Arnold Vosloo’s performance as Pik in Hard Target alone I would say he would make an awesome Bond villain. At the very least, an Oddjob-style enforcer. I would suggest Lance Henriksen himself, but that would be too obvious. I’m voting for Vosloo for Bond 22!