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Hudson Hawk(SE)/C+,A-

Columbia Tristar/1991/100m/ANA1.85. FS 1.33

      Tongue and cheeky action comedies are a mainstay of mid-brow International movies these days. Hudson Hawk, a miserable failure in its theatrical release in 1989 would probably receive a much different reception today. Not to say that this is great filmmaking, but it is often entertaining, especially the set-up scenes that make up the first third of the film. Yes, the film gets carried away with its own hipness and the explosions eventually blow up in the filmmakers' faces, but at least they tried to find another way to action fun.
     Bruce Willis plays Hudson Hawk with a quip and a smirk and it usually works. Hawk, a master thief, has been spending the last ten years in Sing Sing(You'll get the joke if you see the movie)and on his release is forced into a plot to steal a couple of priceless artifacts from the Vatican. The significance of these treasures is illuminated by a very entertaining opening sequence depicting Leonardo Da Vinci at work. Hawk's partner in crime and song, Tommy Messina picks him up at the prison gates and they are off and running into an adventure that will culminate in an unlikely flight and a virtual tour of the best sites in Rome.
    
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Danny and Bruce swinging on a staręColumbia Tristar

    The story of Hudson Hawk comes from the lyrics Willis wrote for a song named for a special wind that blows off New York's Hudson River. How many writers and how many drafts took Hudson Hawk apart is probably a good question because it is certainly overworked. The core characters of Hawk and Messina have lots of potential. A lot of the eccentricities work very well. The constant by-play between Hawk and Tommy referring to Hawk's incredible memory for the length of recorded songs leads to a cleverly structured sequence.
     Danny Aiello is a great match for Willis as Messina. Aiello's breezy style couples with Willis's quick wit for some entertaining verbal jousting. The villains play it at varying degrees of over-the-top. Richard E. Grant is hyper as power hungry Darwin Mayflower and Sandra Bernhard is outrageous as his wife Minerva. James Coburn plays it relatively straight as the mysterious George Kaplan and Andie MacDowell provides Willis with a female object of desire as Anna Baragli.
     Hudson Hawk is given a first class production ride. Michael Lehmann, who directed the very clever Heathers and the entertaining Truth About Cats and Dogs, knows his way around comedy by appears to be a gun for hire director on Hudson Hawk. The production team includes the magic cinematography of Dante Spinotti and imaginative production design by Jackson De Govia. Steven de Souza and Daniel Waters get script credit.
     Hudson Hawk fans can soar with pride over the DVD production from Columbia Tristar. The anamorphic images are beautifully detailed. You can practically feel the texture of the centuries old Italian buildings that add flavor to Hawk's field of vision. Color is well saturated, the picture has pop to spare and artifacts are practically non-existent. Dynamic picture range is outstanding. The picture never seems blown out or underexposed. The Dolby Digital 2-channel mix is very spacious. Effects are well placed, explosions exciting, the music and dialogue well managed. The very frank commentary from director Michael Lehmann is a welcome bonus on this special edition of Hudson Hawk. Lehmann does not shy away from pointing out perceived flaws and critical lambasting. His displays a wry sense of humor, a welcome accompaniment to a film that doesn't take itself seriously.