Hard As Nails (2001)- *
Directed by: Brian Katkin
Starring: Andrew Craig, Allen Scotti, Matt Westmore, Lorissa McComas, Stella Farentino, John Timmons, Matthew Pollino, and Jade
Centered primarily around an L.A. strip club, Hard as Nails tells the tale of Vlad (Craig), a morbidly obese Russian gangster, who is involved in some sort of turf war with a Japanese gang. While Takura (Westmore) is attempting to assert himself as a new gang leader, young lovers Alexi (Scotti) and Deb (McComas) are caught in the middle. Adding to this brew is plainclothes cop Tony (Timmons) and his relationship to a prostitute named Margo (Farentino). Of course, a pair of ruthless assassins named Tic and Tac (Jason and Pollino, respectively) are beating up and/or slaughtering people left and right. What the heck is going on - and who amongst this bunch is truly HARD AS NAILS?
Copies of Hard as Nails should come with a warning: "You are now about to enter a brain cell-free zone". Or something to that effect. Somehow managing to be both low rent and bargain basement, it's rather obvious that this Corman production did not spend a single penny it did not need to. Not that that's a problem in its own right, but the junky factor mixed with the stupid factor adds up to an overwhelmingly dumb experience you'll feel stupider for having watched. However, it's only 75 minutes. But it does feel longer.
Director Brian Katkin, who did Enemy Action (1999) for Corman, attempted to do John Woo with zero budget. The Martial Artists Tic and Tac, featured on the front of the VHS box, are meant to recall The Matrix with their sunglasses and trenchcoats, but you could probably call that misleading. We give credit to the Martial Artists here, who probably worked hard to make the fight scenes what they were, under the trying circumstances. The film is more in line with other Corman action/stripping movies such as Bloodfist 2050 (2005), Mortal Challenge (1997), and Future Kick (1991), among others. It's also like an even cheaper version of King of Fighters (2010) (complete with a similar Himbo), or Equal Impact (1995), but without the majesty of Joe and Jay Gates. Now that's a problem.
It seems like all the nudity and stripping scenes were employed to distract viewers in an attempt to paper over all the many, many flaws. While we love Lorissa McComas, and she tries gamely in the face of all this muck, even she can't save it. As in a lot of DTV films of this type, many actors are involved that look like other people. Someone looks like Mario Lopez here, someone resembles Daniel Bernhardt there, and there may be a Michael J. Pollard type hanging around. In a better film, John Rhys-Davies would have played Vlad. But, then again, if it was a better movie, it wouldn't be Hard as Nails.
See, the thing is that we as viewers can't just settle for any old thing. Just putting a movie out there to put it out there, under the bare minimum of conditions, usually doesn't yield the best results. We should demand more than this. Seeing as how Hard as Nails opens with someone being punched repeatedly in the face, we can't help but see that as a metaphor for what you'll experience if you watch it.
Hard as Nails? More like Dumb as Dirt.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty