“The Hard Way” is a C-grade action pic filmed in Bucharest.
There’s lot of gunplay, a couple of decent brawls, and few pithy one-liners, trash talk mostly, from Michael Jai White (the once and always “Black Dynamite”).
“Let me hip you to a few things,” he says as John Payne, New York nightclub owner, sizing up the two menacing goombahs who’ve stormed in to demand he sell the place for a song “for sentimental reasons.”
“I’m gonna bust your jaw,” for starters. His busboy nephew may impressed at the floors Uncle John mops with these two goons. Not “ex-special ops, Afghanistan, street-fighter” John.
“Fighting is the violent exchange of physical blows,” he cracks. “Not much of a fight when you’re the only one landing all the blows!”
The nonsensical plot sends John to deliver some pain in Bucharest after the death of his undercover agent brother, Cody. He’s got to catch up with old colleagues, including the heavy (brawler/actor Randy Couture) who runs whatever US agency has spies there, his late brother’s inconspicuous partner Mason (Luke Goss) who drives a “Bullitt” Mustang (in Bucharest) to blend in, and dancers-might-be-hookers played by Madalina Anea and Andreea Diac.
It’s a bad movie that didn’t earn a real release — and since all too often — Michael Jai White’s pictures don’t get reviewed, it’s more valuable as an excuse to ponder whya funny, capable action star like Whiteisn’t a bigger deal than he is.
Quick (low) paydays like this should be beneath him. But look at his credits.Too many movies and TV guest shots, not enough star vehicles.
Michael Jai White’s better than this. He should be getting better offers, should be a household name. Hollywood let the man down.
MPAA Rating: TV-MA, graphic violence, gunplay, profanity
Credits: Directed by Keoni Waxman, script by Thomas J. Churchill, Keoni Waxman. A Hollywood Media Bridge/Netflix release.
Running time: 1:34