Tuesday, December 05, 2006

This guy should be a Bond villain: Arnold Vosloo

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!

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love that scene!

Gavin said...

Hard Target! Yes! I fully back your Vosloo for Bond villain campaign. I realize you were concentrating on the Vosloo, but I also loved the ending of that movie, even if I didn't quite understand it. I guess I shouldn't spoil it, but the part where the character goes "heh heh heh heh -- huh?" (KABOOM!) Also, Wilford Brimley as "Uncle Douvee??!" I am retroactively shocked to learn that John Woo was the director and now feel geek shame for not knowing. We rented it because we saw that Sam Raimi was involved...

Anonymous said...

The thing I remember best about hard Target is the final fight scene in the warehouse full of Mardi Gras props. Lance Henriksen's reaction as he realizes that a live hand grenade has fallen into his lap is priceless.

I hope I am remembering the right movie here, and not some weird alternate universe episode of Millenium here.

And Dave, you should change the slogan of your blog to "You're going to like it whether I review my comic book collection or not!"

(That last comment made with respect and appreciation, of course.)

Anonymous said...

Vosloo was good on "24."

Anonymous said...

You -could- vote for Henriksen over Vosloo. I mean, even being on fire doesn't stop Lance from being evil in Hard Target.

But Pik would find out, and as he says, "I know you wouldn't want to hurt my feelings."

It's been ages since I've seen Hard Target, but I have seen it a lot.

I read an interview in which Sam Raimi explained that Universal asked him to produce the movie, so that he could take over if John Woo spent too much money or lost control or whatever.

So Raimi got paid to stand around and watch John Woo direct. He was pretty happy about that.

And I agree, Vosloo was great on 24.

Anonymous said...

Vosloo plays a South African mercenary company leader in "Blood Diamond," which I saw this past weekend. It's not bad.

Anonymous said...

He's also the villain Marwan in Season 4 of 24.

He totally rocks in it, too.

Harvey Jerkwater said...

The end of Hard Target always cracks my shit up. The villain, who arranges for rich men to hunt and murder poor men for sport, sayeth unto the hero:

Henriksen: "Why did you get involved? These people mean nothing to you!"

Van Damme: "Poor people get bored too."

F&*@ YEAH!! And funny too.

Can I get a F&*@ YEAH?

The poster for Hard Target uses a flipped image of Van Damme. Back in college, we had the poster on our wall, for we worshipped the newly-discovered John Woo. One day my roommate noticed that in the poster, JCVD's weird egg-shaped head-bump (which, during a viewing of Death Warrant, we dubbed "Fredo") was on the wrong side of his forehead.

Also--love interest Yancy Butler later went on to star in the cable teevee series Witchblade, adapted from the legendary T&A comic of the same name.

If Hard Target rocked any harder, they'd pass laws against it.

Anonymous said...

I love Wilford Brimley in that movie. Since Van Damme is afraid of horses, Brimley did some of the horse stunts. So here's this fat old guy riding around on his slo-mo horse blowin' stuff up and mangling a cajun accent. Priceless.

Anonymous said...

Vosloo was delicious on 24. He also did a surprisingly decent job filling in for Liam Neeson on two direct to video Darkman sequels, which had some crappy scripts, sadly.

There's a nice bit in the third one where Peyton impersonates a gangster (The top-billed Jeff Fahey) and gets to know his wife and daughter, and later he tries to explain to them who he is while wearing a Peyton mask. It's touching, as Vosloo shows how being isolated for so long has affected Westlake.

He stole every scene in Hard Target. He also gave The Mummy more weight than it probably deserved.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Gavin that the heh, heh, heh, BOOM scene was the greatest. But what made it so excellent was how Lance made the most ridiculous "whoop" sound before exploding.

But, thinking about it, that's probably exactly the sound anybody would make if they had an instant to express a screw up leading to their imminent explosion. Man, good times.

Anonymous said...

Hold it, guys. Let's admit, the best scene in "Hard Target", as far as I'm concerned the ONLY scene in "Hard Target", is when JCVD saves Yancey Butler from a giant snake and then, instead of killing the snake, PUNCHES THE SNAKE UNCONSCIOUS WITH HIS LIGHTING FAST FIST. He then leaves the snake there to wake up and attack the bad guys. We rewound and rewatched that moment twenty-five times in college. Airwolf, it was.

Anonymous said...

Arnold Vosloo should definitely be a Bond villain. Can you imagine how much ass Bond would have to kick to beat that guy?

For the record, I should also be a Bond villain.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

I forgot JCVD punched the snake. That was too funny.

Anonymous said...

As awesome as Henriksen is in this, his ultimate role was "Chains" Cooper in 1991's Brian Bosworth vehicle, Stone Cold.

It's one of the greatest movies of all time.

Given its white-trash proclivities, Stone Cold could be the epitome of "anti-Bondian."

Arm-Fall-Off-Boy said...

Wilford Brimley as Van Damme's uncle is badass in a way eclipsed only by Barnard Hughes as Corey Haim's grandfather in The Lost Boys.

And while pygmy zombies are indeed a sight to behold, Dracula's crew of steampunk dwarves in Van Helsing are even better. Probably the best thing in the entire movie, which I realize is damning with faint praise, but still...

Chris said...

Hard Target has so many hilariously quotable lines.

"What kind of a name is Chance?"
"My momma took one."

"Uncle, they are getting closer!"
"I know. I smell 'dem."

Anonymous said...

Should Arnold ever be a Bond villain, then he must be the only one who gets away at the end and not die.

Anonymous said...

I walked by Yancy Butler on Madison Avenue a while ago. Her voice sounds exactly like that in real life, too. I don't know why that struck me, but it did.

Tim Easy said...

Arnold Vosloo versus Billy Zane! Bring it on!

Anonymous said...

I loved the pygmy zombies. I wanted one for a pet or something.

Kevin Church said...

The boat chase from Face/Off was originally slated for Hard Target until JCVD wussed out and said "No, I want to ride the horsies!"

Or it was moved to Face/Off for some other reason, but I suspect JCVD didn't want to ruin his mullet with salt water at high speeds.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine is convinced much-loathed X-Man Gambit is somehow connected to this movie. His argument is thus:

Both are supposedly Cajuns, yet neither can manage to come even close to the accent in question. Both are smooth-operatin', rougish bounders with mysterious pasts they avoid talking about when making sweet, tender love to a succession of wide-eyed damsels in distress. Both are top-shelf butt-kickers who nevertheless have an appreciation for the simpler things in life and wish only solitude, yet are dragged into conflict because honor demands it. And they both wear trench coats out of season.

I say, hey, Gambit doesn't have a mullet. Ah, my friend says, but Chance doesn't wear a fruity body suit for no logical reason. So there ya go.

Another thought on JCVD. Somewhere, I've got a book of "odd lists", a selection of the macbre, the weird and the just plain goofy. Stuff like "20 interesting suicides" or "What happens to the body after death" or "15 Geniuses who never bathed". That sort of thing.

Well, one of the entries is the result of a poll done in 1993 or so about celebrites most often used as objects of fantasy by the general public. I don't remember who topped the lists for straight men and straight women, but I do remember who was the celebrity most gay men fantasized about. It was Jean-Claude Van Damm, and it's worth noting he didn't even make the Top 10 on the straight women's list.

That entry noted it'd asked for entries from lesbians, but didn't receive enough to make what was felt to be an accurate list. That always made me sad for some reason.

Anonymous said...

Church: You're correct on the boat chase, although when push came to shove JCVD pussied out on actually riding the horse and let the stuntmen do it.

Hey everyone, just a reminder: The Official Handbook of the Invincible Universe #1 (of 2), with entries written by our humble host, is in stores TODAY!

Anonymous said...

The best "getting-shot-while-looking-through-a-peephole" is and will always be Dario Argento's OPERA. What makes it cool is the inclusion of the ultra-slo-mo microscopic view of the bullet going straight through the peephole, then more slo-mo as it comes out the backside of a poor ladies head, culmination in an exploding telephone. Airwolf, baby. Totally airwolf.

Anonymous said...

As awesome as Henriksen is in this, his ultimate role was "Chains" Cooper in 1991's Brian Bosworth vehicle, Stone Cold.

CHAINS: This reminds me of my father's last words: "Don't son, that gun is loaded!"

Anonymous said...

just added it to the queue, can't wait to watch it

Anonymous said...

Apparently I have no purpose in life except to read comic book blogs and then point out with horror when a minor detail in a bad Van Damme movie is wrong.

Yancy isn't the homeless guy's sister, she's his estranged daughter! And I know that because I've, despite my lack of a Y chromosone, watched this movie 3950395 times!

Anonymous said...

Dave,

Once again you have stolen thoughts from my head and put em' on the web. You're 100% right about Vosloo. He and Lance made a hell of a team in Hard Target.

Your amigo,

Beau

SQT said...

I love this blog because you say things like "Lance Fucking Henriksen."

God, that's great.

Vosloo would make a fantastic Bond villian.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Seems like I need to see Hard Target some time...

Anonymous said...

I'm a long-time reader of your blog Dave, but this is my first comment.

Thank you for showcasing this underrated flick. Vosloo would indeed make an awesome Bond villain and his partnership with Lance drove the film.

Also, Pik's last name was Van Cleef. I can't believe he wasn't named in honor of Lee Van Cleef--the coolest western villain to ever wield a six-shooter.

My favorite scene: After the cowboy blows up Wilford Brimley's barn, Lance turns to him and snarls "You are a f^&*ing buffalo!"

Anonymous said...

I think he'd make a dope Blofeld

Anonymous said...

Not only does JVD punch out that snake but he bites it's tail end off so it can't rattle therefore surprising one of the bad guys, now that's classic. Also if you want quality Henriksen check out Knights.

K.Fox, Jr. said...

Yeah, i guess so.

Anonymous said...

Arnold is the best villain in Hollywood. He doesn't mind being typecasted as a bad guy and neither do we, he's always great as the bad guy and the best thing is, that he's not the kind of bad guy that goes down just like that, he puts up a hell of a fight before going down. GO ARNOLD!!!

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