Hudson Hawk Is As Terrible As You’d Think

Andie MacDowell and Bruce Willis in Hudson Hawk. Courtesy of Sony.

Not even the star-studded cast has the talent to save Hudson Hawk from being a really terrible action-adventure comedy.

What piqued my interest in the film was both its cast and the synopsis listed on the Blu-ray. When you say a film is the best action-adventure comedy ever, it is going to draw my interest. Maybe I should have checked out the Wikipedia page first or even the awards page on IMDb because sheesh, this was a very brutal film to watch. Some films are better off being left in the vault. No ill will to any of the films cast or crew because they’re trying their best here. Unfortunately, no amount of talent is able to save Hudson Hawk from a terrible script. The script is key in any film next to chemistry between its stars. That being said, the chemistry in the film is fine–no complaints there. It’s just that this film has a very terrible script and I cannot stress this enough.

Cat burglar Eddie “the Hawk” Hudson (Bruce Willis) wants to go straight after a ten-year stint in prison. Both the mob and the CIA want Hudson and partner Tommy “Five-Tone” Messina (Danny Aiello) to steal a trio of Da Vinci masterpieces from museums around the world. What is this–some Da Vinci Code shit? Is Tom Hanks going to pop up from out of nowhere and and try to stop him? In any event, Hudson falls in love a nun, Anna Baragli (Andie MacDowell), while Minerva (Sandra Bernhard) and Darwin Mayflower (Richard E. Grant) pursue him. They have their own plans for the Da Vinci works. As if this is not enough, the film also employees cartoon-style slapstick comedy effects. Listen, there’s nothing wrong with slapstick comedy but they should be employing it better.

The best part of the recent Kino Lorber Studio Classics Blu-ray release in September is the bonus features. This release returns the DVD extras that were dropped when Mill Creek Entertainment released the film on Blu-ray in 2013. We also get some insight from Bruce Willis and executive producer/co-story writer Robert Kraft about their friendship, the music, and the journey to making this film. As insightful as the bonus features may be, it’s not enough to improve on the actual film. Something I learned from their conversation is that “it was a song before it was a story.” Maybe it should have just stayed a song.

“It was vilified more than any film of its decade,” Willis says in the documentary. Despite the negative reviews and such, the film eventually came around to turn a profit.

“A lot of people did get it but I don’t really make movies for critics,” Willis later says. He doesn’t apologize for making the film and that’s fine. Not everything is for everyone and this certainly goes without saying. I cannot speak for all of my colleagues but I am still going to be a fan first. At the end of the day, I would not be doing what I do if I didn’t love movies. In my honest opinion, I started watching the film after 10 PM. I can say with 100% certainty that this film is not a late night comedy. In any event, it was my third film of the day so it definitely factored into my viewing.

Part of the problem with the film goes back to its marketing. Bruce Willis is one of the biggest action stars of his time. What does the studio do but market the film as an action comedy! Instead, they should have focused on its absurdities. Maybe I’ll wait a few weeks to rewatch the film at a much earlier time in the day and see if my thoughts change.

Bonus Features

  • Audio Commentary by Director Michael Lehmann
  • The Story of Hudson Hawk: Featurette with Star Bruce Willis and Executive Producer Robert Kraft (29:56)
  • My Journey to Minerva: Featurette with Actress Sandra Bernhard (10:57)
  • Hudson Hawk Theme by Dr. John: Music Video
  • Deleted Scenes (5:38)
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Optional English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Michael Lehmann
SCREENWRITERS: Steven E. de Souza and Daniel Waters
CAST: Bruce Willis, Danny Aiello, Andie MacDowell, Richard E. Grant, Sandra Bernhard, Donald Burton, Don Harvey, David Caruso, and James Coburn

TriStar released Hudson Hawk in theaters on May 24, 1991. Grade: 2.5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.