Bullet Points: Hard Justice
Question… What do you get when you put an undercover A.T.F. agent behind bars to investigate the murder of his best friend, who was also an undercover agent behind bars investigating some suspicious activity at the prison?
Answer… The 1995 David Bradley movie, Hard Justice.
- Crashing the Party: Hard Justice wastes little time getting into some pretty heavy duty action. David Bradley’s character, Nick Adams, exits a helicopter and enters a factory through the roof! Unfortunately for Jimmy Wong (Yuji Okumoto from American Yakuza), this disrupts some of the dirty business he was conducting. Then there’s guns a blazin’ and non-stop action, including Adams on a conveyor belt so he can shoot multiple goons more efficiently. The sequence ends with Wong in custody, but only after an innocent bystander is killed by a Wong grenade.
- Death Out, Death In: Nick disappears from his job at the A.T.F. after this incident. He keeps seeing the face of the young woman who died while he was taking down Jimmy Wong. But while one death took him out of the game, the death of his best friend Mani brings him right back and with the bright idea that he should go to prison to find out who killed Mani and complete Mani’s investigation. His boss is reluctant at first, but eventually complies so the movie can continue.
- Prison Movie Checklist: Fans of the site may be aware of a feature we do here called The Checklist. If I were going to do a Prison Movie Checklist on Hard Justice it would achieve a score of 100% as it hits every prison movie cliche you can think of…
- Nick gets hit on by his larger cell mate. Check!
- The warden (played by Charles Napier) is dirty. Check!
- The head prison guard is a hard ass bully who abuses his power. Check!
- There’s a long time prisoner who knows everything. Check!
- There’s a prisoner who has the ability to get you whatever supplies you need. Check!
- Our hero is thrown into solitary confinement. Check!
- There’s a fight in the showers. Check!
- Wong Turn: Nick blows his own cover when the very man he busted at the beginning of the film, Jimmy Wong, is transferred to the same prison he is in. Nick demands to speak to Warden Pike and tells him that he is an undercover agent and he needs to be released. He even gives him his boss’ name at the A.T.F. so Pike can confirm what Nick is telling him. At this point I realized Nick Adams had never seen Rambo: First Blood Part II, because he would have known he couldn’t trust any character played by Charles Napier. Things go down hill quickly for Nick after this meeting with Warden Pike and it isn’t long before we come full circle and Nick and Jimmy Wong collide.
Despite this being a “paint by numbers” prison themed action flick, Hard Justice is passable. It is certainly better than some of the other David Bradley films I’ve seen (like Cyborg Cop II). There may be some of you out there that love David Bradley, but me and David Bradley just don’t click. In the non-action sequences, like Nick talking to his fellow A.T.F. agent Hannah, who was posing as his attorney, I found myself losing interest and debating if I should cut my losses. But the movie is pretty action packed, so those more “dramatic” scenes are quickly forgotten with the next fight or shoot out.
The opening and closing action sequences are way above average, especially for a direct to video movie. It is like the old proverb says, a good beginning makes a good ending.
Here are a few Hard Justice Bonus Bullet Points…
- Memorable Quote: “Is you the husband? Or is you the wife?” – Mr. Clean, Nick’s cell mate.
- Familiar Faces: Vernon Wells of Commando fame plays Galaxy 500, the all knowing prisoner who has been there so long he has his own private area of the prison. I’m not sure why he is named after a Ford from the 1960’s or a phone from Samsung’s distant future. Also making a brief, but memorable appearance is Professor Toru Tanaka from The Running Man, Missing in Action 2: The Beginning and Revenge of the Ninja to name a few. Hard Justice was actually Tanaka’s last movie. And I’m not sure why Tanaka’s character is named Cookie.
- Card Sharks: We asked 100 men who carry nightsticks as part of their job if they had a nickname for their nightstick. Only 1 of the 100 said he did. His name is Riggs and he is the head prison guard in the movie Hard Justice. He calls his nightstick The Ugly Stick because he can and will beat you ugly with it.