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Wesley Snipes, Gavin J. Behrman,
Kevin Chapman, Luis Guzman, Elizabeth Dings
Directed by Mario Van Peebles
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2006
The Hard Luck DVD is difficult to describe. I just finished watching it and honestly I'm not sure if I liked this film or not. It's the kind of movie that mixes different genres, which can often produce nice surprises, yet I feel I've seen many similar ones before. Hard Luck certainly has some "blacksploitation" 1970s feel to it, which filmmaker Mario Van Peebles probably uses as a tribute to his dad (Melvin Van Peebles) who has a cameo scene in the movie.
The main problem I have with Hard Luck is that I somewhat feel Mario Van Peebles was more concerned with bringing himself and Wesley Snipes in a movie, after their success in New Jack City, than really delivering an original story (plus, he contributed to the validation of this feeling in his behind the scenes DVD bonus feature, where he explains the parallels between the two movies). We also learn in the bonus features that even his own kids contributed to the movie, by performing a fun rap song, which I must admit has the desired effect in the movie.
Part of Hard Luck feels a bit like Pulp Fiction due to the fact that we can only understand the link between the different characters at the end. This is something which is quite difficult to achieve, and I haven't seen it work efficiently since Tarantino's film. There are interesting surprises in the plot, but somehow I'm not sure if I think they're brilliant of if they are just misplaced. It's like having two people telling the same joke but one has a better timing than the other. The one with bad timing just doesn't get as many laughs.
Fortunately for Van Peebles, he was able to find a good cast of actors who were willing to play along with his idea. The story has an unlucky former gangster trying to get back to a regular life (Wesley Snipes as "Lucky"), a hot tempered Latina pole dancer (Jaquelyn Quinones), Cybill Shepherd playing the part of a disillusioned mother with her younger sadistic Asian partner in love and crime, and Mario Van Peebles himself as a cop willing to do just about anything to catch Lucky red handed. I can't say I can complain about the acting as the characters are very believable and all have their flaws and good qualities we can identify with.
Note here that Blacks, Latinos, Caucasians, Asians and also Gays are used in the movie and that the filmmaker knowingly uses all the preconceived ideas people can have for all of them to his advantage. Kudos in that department as it can probably cause various reactions and interesting reflections in the audience.
I must say that Mario Van Peebles may have bit off slightly more than he could chew on this one, but that he still delivers a story worth watching for people who don't mind the "R" rating, and who enjoy seeing very strange things happen in a story. Hard Luck is not your usual dumb boom-bang action-thriller movie, but at the same time it's not a concept/storyline that is completely new. I've seen better movies with Wesley Snipes, but believe me, I've seen worse.