hard luck (2006) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Hard Luck, a direct-to-DVD release, is an offbeat piece of pulp cinema involving the usual gangsters, strippers and gunplay. Not atypically for the genre, it consists of three separate stories which eventually converge.

The first story involves a former drug dealer (Wesley Snipes) who is trying to get his act together and go straight. He agrees to attend a friend's birthday bash, the friend asks for his help in a criminal money-for-goods exchange in the back room of a strip club, and everything goes wrong. The cash exchange turns out to involve double-crosses and crooked cops, heavy gunfire is exchanged, and Snipes ends up fleeing the scene with two suitcases full of money, whereupon he kidnaps a stripper and commandeers her car. The two of them try to drive off the grid, with cops and crooks in pursuit. Needless to say, they bicker and fight until they start to fall for one another.

The second story involves two crazy serial murderers (One of whom is Cybill Shepherd!) who torture their victims on an elaborate stage set up in their country home, complete with spotlights, opera music, disguises, BDSM equipment, and cameras. 

The third story is about a struggling young couple on their way to New York for one of those ultimate fighting competitions. It is obvious from the many deleted scenes on the DVD that this story was once given equal status with the other two, but the back story and character development were virtually eliminated in the final cut, and the couple now appears only as two minor characters who fall prey to the serial murderers.

The stories start to converge after Snipes and the stripper make their way to a remote hideout owned by an ostensibly sympathetic gang lord. Unfortunately, the mobster's sympathy is feigned, and he reveals their whereabouts to pretty much everyone except Oprah, and he only missed her because she had too many callers that day. Snipes and the stripper are wounded in their battles with various baddies, and their phone is out, so Snipes has to make it to a nearby farm to use the phone.

Can you guess who lives there, boys and girls?

I knew that you could.

This film is quite entertaining for a non-theatrical release. Mario van Peebles directed and shot the film in high definition with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and plenty of tricked-out lighting effects so it looks slick, albeit very artificial. I suppose the "comic book" look was intentional. It seems that van Peebles was going for pulp fantasy rather than urban grit, because he let the serial murderer portion of the story rise to the level of very high camp, accentuated by plenty of sordid dialogue and violence choreographed to music. The killers' portion of the film has a feel similar to Ken Russell's ultra-camp classic, Crimes of Passion. In my opinion, the Snipes/stripper angle is the best part of the film because it's sexy and it allows some audience involvement, given that the main characters are decent human beings. That part is made far better by the fact that the stripper (Jackie Quinones) gets completely naked twice, once to give Snipes a lap dance during the birthday party, and again when Snipes kidnaps her. (He forces her to strip naked and takes her clothes so she won't try to escape while he sleeps.) Both scenes are hot, and this will definitely earn Miss Quinones a spot on this year's Top 20 Nude Scenes list!!

The film is not wildly original, but it's oddly compelling with a storyline that moves right along, and ol' Mario has a good feel for this kind of material. He doesn't get a lot of respect as a director, but he knows how to make a lurid movie entertaining and sexy, and that's a talent the world needs, in my opinion. I recommend this flick for those who might enjoy a really sexy, sleazy, sensationalized walk on the wild side.



  • the widescreen transfer is anamorphically enhanced (2.35, enhanced for 16x9 screens)
  • there are several deleted scenes, which basically consist of the all-but-discarded third story
  • featurette: "Behind the scenes with Mario Van Peebles."



Jackie Quinones shows her breasts and does full rear nudity.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online


The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C, a solid piece of pulp cinema, exceptionally strong by straight-to-vid standards.

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