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Direct to Instant View Purgatory: Hudson Hawk

Services like Netflix and YouTube have made the most recent films readily available to anyone. Can we find anything of value in the muck of b-movies, ambitious failures and exploitative crap-fests? We’re going to find out in Dispatches from Instant View Purgatory.

What’re we watching: “Hudson Hawk,” an infamous $48 million flop that closed TriStar Pictures and almost ruined writer and star Bruce Willis’ career. This was in 1991, right after “Die Hard 2.” It still almost destroyed Willis. It was that bad.

What does it look like: Imagine everything you liked about the original and remake of “Ocean’s 11.” Now take all of that away and add a bunch of cartoony slap-stick, “Paint Your Wagon” style and a variety of terrible performances. Looks awful, doesn’t it?

What’s going on: Willis stars as the Hudson Hawk, an infamous cat burglar who gets out of jail only to have a variety of factions try to enlist him to pull off a series of jobs. He sings and dances with his partner, played by Dan Aiello, as they commit crime in search of a da Vinci relic hidden somewhere in Europe.

What works: The movie is a who’s-who of people who were briefly popular in the ’90s. Frank Stallone, Sandra Bernhard, David Caruso and Andie MacDowell all have starring roles. If that’s something you would like to see, “Hudson Hawk” is willing to provide it in one of the most painful settings possible.

What doesn’t: Virtually everything. From the first forced sing-along, to the hang-gliding, Nintendo referencing finale, this is one of the worst movies of the 90s. It’s a movie that tortures you for wanting to see it. It’s like Bruce Willis leers at you from the screen, daring you to watch, asking if you have the gall to sit through this ambitiously terrible lark.

Skip to: The credits would be a really great place to jump to. The first singing robbery isn’t too terrible, and it gives you a nice intro to what the rest of the movie looks like. I guess you might as well watch the grenade launching sing-along at the end, despite it being one of the dumbest sequences I’ve probably ever seen.

The Verdict: I hate to damn a movie permanently. I love to celebrate ambitious failures and look past the problems of a movie and see it for what it wanted to be, but “Hudson Hawk” is just that terrible of a movie. Don’t watch it. Don’t even watch it out of curiosity. I’m begging you. Please.

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