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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
"My name is José. I sell oranges for money."
DVD ReviewHard Cash is one of those inexplicably inane straight-to-video action films that never seem to have gone through more than one script draft. It's jam-packed with plot holes, inane dialogue, and bizarre plot twists, but it lacks the campiness that sometimes makes these shoddy productions worth enduring. Truthfully, the abysmal quality of the film doesn't surprise me. The participation of such has-beens as Christian Slater, Daryl Hannah, and just-was Val Kilmer (Heat and Batman Forever aren't that old), however, is a bit of a puzzle.
Slater (who has apparently fallen on very hard times, or lost some sort of bet, or bounced a check to his agent or something) is Thomas, a career thief just released from prison and returning home to his girlfriend (Downing) and young daughter. He is surprised to find them living in a trailer park, and sets up an elaborate robbery to get his family back on its feet. His target? Um... the Off-Track Betting place down by the mall. Who says crime is all glamour? Of course, considering it takes a team of four (including Daryl Hannah, looking like a skankier version of Sidney from Alias, which is to say, way skanky) to rip off an OTB, cool is out of the question.
The robbery goes well enough, but the loot ($2 million) is marked, part of a plan by corrupt government agent Mark Cornell (Val Kilmer) to launder it for himself. Cornell isn't happy to see his nest egg disappear, so he kidnaps Thomas's daughter and forces the gang to participate in the familiar "one last job" that stupid movie characters never seem to realize is a Really Bad Idea.
For most of its running time, Hard Cash is simply incompetent, horribly acted (Slater phones in his performance like he's on a bad cell and Kilmer may or may not be perpetually stoned), ludicrously plotted (especially the explosive climax, which breaks so many rules of logic it technically should not be able to exist), and poorly directed. But it's the little touches that truly push this one over the line into awful territory, including a cameo from Verne "Mini-Me" Troyer as a foul-mouthed thief who manages to make every one of his lines sound like a sexual innuendo, and superfluous sequences with José, who sells oranges for money, that build meaninglessly into perhaps the dumbest payoff in recent film history.
I don't know if a theatrical release was ever planned for Hard Cash, but it certainly doesn't deserve one. I'd say permanent existence in a digital format is also perhaps not warranted. On the plus side, though, fans of Wall Street will be soothed by the scene in which Daryl Hannah gets it in the gut with a harpoon. Sweet revenge, if 15 years too late.
Rating for Style: D-
Rating for Substance: F
Image Transfer Review: Offered in both full-frame and 1.85:1 transfers, Hard Cash is none too impressive in terms of image quality. Colors appear saturated but unbalanced, with some indoor scenes appearing poorly contrasted and unnatural. Blacks tend to blend together, with poor shadow detail, and the transfer is rather soft and grainy overall. Digital artifacts are infrequently visible and are also a distraction.
Image Transfer Grade: C-
Audio Transfer Review: The DD 5.1 mix fares better than the video, but it too is lacking in a number of areas. Dialogue is anchored in the center channel and always clear, but at times, ADR is painfully obvious. The front soundstage carries the brunt of the action, with limited directionality but a lack of sufficient LFE. The surrounds help to add some dimension to action scenes and explosions, but never does the mix become enveloping. The rap soundtrack makes good use of all the channels, however.
Audio Transfer Grade: C+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Review: Not only do you get the trailer, you get just about the plainest menus I have seen from a major studio, with the main screen listing all of your options! That's right, no pesky sub-menus (though I suppose these can still technically be considered "interactive").
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsA movie that only a masochist could love (and that even B-movie fans may have trouble sitting through), Hard Cash shows you just how bad a movie has to be to premiere on video despite the participation of big name washed-up talent like Christian Slater, Daryl Hannah, and Val Kilmer. Hey, remember when those guys were considered big stars? Yeah, the late 1980s/early '90s are a big blur for me too.
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