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Hard Luck (October 23/06)

Though Hard Luck admittedly features Wesley Snipes' best performance in recent years - which isn't saying much, given that he's been appearing solely in straight-to-video dreck like The Marksman and The Detonator as of late - the film is a ridiculously overblown and borderline incoherent mess that possesses virtually no positive attributes.

The unusually complicated storyline follows a former criminal (Snipes) who's forced to go on the run after inadvertently getting caught up in a drug deal gone bad, a situation that's exacerbated by his decision to take a plucky stripper hostage (played by Jackie Quinones). There's also a bizarre, seemingly pointless subplot revolving around two offbeat serial killers (Tony Hua and Cybill Shepherd) and their painfully quirky exploits.

Director Mario Van Peebles - who also appears in a small role and shares a screenwriting credit with Larry Brand - has infused the movie with a wildly over-the-top sensibility, as though he's attempting to compensate for the various deficiencies within the script by offering up a relentlessly flashy visual style. Van Peebles and Brand's decision to augment the proceedings with a whole host of unreasonably off-kilter supporting characters certainly doesn't help matters, nor does the inclusion of an oddly deliberate pace (the latter is particularly baffling, since a lot of stuff does happen throughout the film's running time).

Luis Guzman, appearing in a cameo role as a flamboyant pornographer, proves to be the most (or is that only) effective element within Hard Luck, and it seems highly unlikely that even the most forgiving Snipes enthusiast will find anything worth embracing here.

out of

About the DVD: Hard Luck arrives on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, armed with an anamorphically-enhanced 2.35:1 transfer and a smattering of bonus features (deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes featurette).
© David Nusair