Hudson Hawk Is The Best Bruce Willis Movie You’ve (Probably) Never Seen

Dept. of Swinging Stars


In light of the terrible news of Bruce Willis’ forced retirement, it seems only right that I, your humble movie reviewer, tell you about my favourite Bruce Willis joint. No, it isn’t Die Hard. It’s not The Sixth Sense. It isn’t even Pulp Fiction.

The Bruce Willis movie that I have the fondest memories of, and excites me the most whenever I think of a Bruce Willis movie, is 1991’s Hudson Hawk.

Just When I Thought I Was Out…

Hudson Hawk tells the story of newly released (and newly retired) master cat burglar and safe cracker Eddie “Hudson Hawk” Hawkins, who gets roped in to doing one more job by his parole officer. The job, which on the surface of it seemed simple enough, to steal the statue of a horse at an auction, would lead Hawkins to Italy and the Vatican City, and involve Leonardo da Vinci, the Italian mob, the CIA, and an American corporation lead by a maniacal genius billionaire husband and wife.

The movie is a silly, fun, action comedy that is high on both action and laughs. It leans into the silly quite a bit with “cartoon style slapstick humour, funny sound effects, and surreal comedy.” But the best way to describe Hudson Hawk is that it’s just so much fun.

At 100 minutes, Hudson Hawk isn’t the kind of movie where you go in expecting fidelity to story or plot. There are things about the story that, if you even gave yourself a moment to pause and think, just utterly falls apart. But it doesn’t matter. Because, now repeat after me, Hudson Hawk is just so much fun.

The movie moves at a pace that is relentless. Willis’ zingers and witty repartee come at you a mile a minute. Yes, the physical comedy is very much slapstick, but it never feels lame or tired. Director Michael Lehmann (who also directed the Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, and Adam Sandler comedy Airheads), never lets the pace drop, or the comedy lie too long. Even during the romantic sequences between Bruce Willis and Andie MacDowell, Lehmann ensures that the movie never slows down.

Seriously Fun!

There is nothing serious about this movie. With a supporting cast that includes Danny Aiello as Hawkins’ partner and friend Tommy Messina, Andie MacDowell as a nun with the Vatican’s counter-espionage team, Richard E. Grant and Sandra Bernhard as the (WAY) over-the-top Mayflowers, and James Coburn as the head of a CIA team with chocolate bars as codenames (featuring a 35 year old David Caruso as KitKat, the silent master of disguise who only communicates via printed cards,), Hudson Hawk is utterly batshit crazy.

A big part of the movie is Hawkins and Messina’s “thing” of using American pop standards as a way to time their heists, and their rendition of “Swinging on a Star” (5 minutes, 32 seconds) is how I got to the movie. I didn’t understand why these two actors were singing the song, and it wasn’t until I did some research did the name Hudson Hawk come up. This was in the early times (before streaming, before torrents), so finding the movie was an impossible task, until I randomly came across it on Astro one fine day, and boy was I hooked.

Hudson Hawk is not an excellent movie. Sure, it made next to no money at the box-office when it was released, and earned itself three Razzies (including Worst Picture), but in my opinion, it does not deserve its place on Wikipedia’s list of worse films. (That’s right, fuck you Wikipedia!)

Hudson Hawk was always a movie that I had fond memories of, and to my surprise, wasn’t a case of rose-tinted glasses. Rewatching it before writing this, the film, with its slapstick humour, comedic one-liners and puns, still holds up. So if you’re thinking of rewatching a Bruce Willis film after today’s sad news of his illness and retirement, I can’t think of a better movie that showcases him doing all the things he did best.

Hudson Hawk is now streaming on MOLA, the newest streaming service to hit Malaysia.

Bahir likes to review movies because he can watch them at special screenings and not have to interact with large groups of people who may not agree with his idea of what a movie going experience is. Bahir likes jazz, documentaries, Ken Burns, and summer blockbuster movies. He really hopes that the HBO MAX Green Lantern series will help the character be cool again. Also don’t get him started on Jason Momoa’s Aquaman (#NotMyArthurCurry).

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