Film / Hudson Hawk

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"Hi! I'm being blackmailed into robbing the Vatican by a psychotic American corporation and the C.I.A.!"

Hudson Hawk is a 1991 film starring Bruce Willis while he was still making the transition from comedy roles like Moonlighting to his Action Hero typecasting. Older tropers experienced with the actor's pre-Die Hard career will know this means he mugs a lot and does just about anything for a laugh. And he still has hair (well, mostly... reportedly, a significant part of why the film went over budget was that Willis inisted on CGI to hide his thinning hairline).

Gentleman Thief extraordinaire Eddie "Hudson Hawk" Hawkins has just gotten out of prison, and all he really wants is a cappuccino and an honest job. However, his parole officer has teamed up with two Italian brothers with the surname "Mario" to force him to do one last job that leads to a madcap series of capers that do all they can to defy summation.

Before it's over, Eddie will hurtle down a freeway on a gurney, unknowingly flirt with a nun, burgle the Vatican with fifty bucks worth of seemingly random items, discover Leonardo da Vinci's secret formula for turning lead into gold, battle candy-bar codenamed CIA agents (and one damned annoying crotch-biting dog), and if he survives all of this, then he can have his coffee.


This film provides examples of:

  • Almost Kiss: After their date, Eddie and Anna go back to her apartment, where she gives him a backrub. He says he needs to whisper something to her, their faces come together and Eddie tries to kiss her. She pulls away, breaking the moment.
  • Artistic License – Geology ?: Hudson Hawk is given a brick of gold and a brick of lead while blindfolded, to demonstrate that they are indistinguishable by weight. Gold is 70% denser than lead, and the weight difference would be easily noticed. The gold brick would weigh about 30 pounds, but they handle it as if it weighs a couple of pounds. They also mention that gold and lead differ by one proton on the periodic table of elements. The difference is actually 3 protons and 7 neutrons. Perhaps most blatantly, gold is a far better heat sink than lead; Hawk should have noticed the lead brick warming in his hand almost instantly while the gold one stayed cold.
  • Artistic License – Economics: The Mayflowers.
    • They want to make the world currency market collapse by making so much gold that it turns all of the stuff into Worthless Yellow Rocks. That might have worked in, say, 1965. However, ever since Richard Nixon took the US off the gold standard in 1971, no currency has any significant links whatsoever to gold, and making lots and lots of gold would only collapse the gold market - though the shockwaves from that will do a lot of damage.
    • The idea that their own fortune would be unaffected also falls short especially in that light; they're basically planning on causing an economic apocalypse, and they're investing in non-gold stocks instead of canned food and shotguns.
    • There's some implications that "most of" their fortune is in physical commodities and properties whose relative value would be unchanged... Which doesn't explain how they can throw around money like it's already worthless pieces of paper.
  • Asshole Victim: A whole slew of them.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: Leonardo da Vinci's 500 year old flying machine, which Eddie and Anna use to escape from the castle.
  • Brick Joke
    • The duo sings songs to time (and synchronise) their capers. Each time, the song ends before the caper is over. At that very moment, they invariably get caught.
    • "Will you play Nintendo with me?"
  • The Butler Did It: Quoted by Eddie when telling Tommy about Gates' death at the hands of Alfred, who is a butler.
  • Camera Spoofing: "BIG STAN!"
  • Camp: It's basically a live-action cartoon.
  • Captain Obvious
    • Butterfinger: "Hey coach, it looks bad. I think those Mayflowers set us up..."
    • The Playmate of the Year riding the car next to Hudson as he's rolling on a stretcher: "Hey mister! You gonna die?"
  • Card-Carrying Villain: "What can I say? I'm the villain!"
  • Catch Phrase: Tommy has one. Can you believe it?!
  • Check, Please!: While Eddie and Anna are in a cafe, Anna says that knowing he was in prison excites her. Eddie: "Check please!"
  • Christianity Is Catholic
    Hawk: The Vatican! I'm robbing the freaking Vatican! The Sisters at St. Agnes' predicted this.
  • Chekhov's Gun
    • Leonardo da Vinci's castle is a Chekhov's Armory. The opening with Leonardo's lab would make Tom Servo declare "Foreshadowing!"
    • Tommy and Hawk's game of rattling off a song's playing time takes on a whole new meaning during the first robbery.
    • There's a reason why we need to see the otherwise forgettable security guards taunting "Big Stan."
    • Bunny, ball ball!
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: FBI isn't featured, but ex-CIA Kaplan is definitely evil.
  • Code Name: Snickers. Butterfinger. Kit Kat. Almond Joy.
    "Candy bars. Well, it's better than when we first started out. Our code names were diseases. You know what it's like being called Chlamydia for a year?!?"
  • Co-Dragons: George Kaplan and Alfred.
  • Groin Attack
    • While Eddie is secured to a chair, an aggressive dog bites his crotch.
    • After Eddie is knocked down by Butterfingers inside a phone booth, he kicks him in the groin. Butterfingers is fine a minute later.
    • Alfred the Butler presses his blade against Eddie's's genitals as a threat.
    "Come to think of it, there is one part of your anatomy you won't be needing..."
  • Hammerspace: One of the villains cuts open the cover of Da Vinci's codex to reveal that the book cover, which was approximately a quarter inch thick, contains a piece of the gold machine reflector which is about the size of a billiard ball.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Eddie and Tommy seem to be a May-December version of this.
  • Hollywood Glass Cutter: While breaking into the auction house, Eddie uses a suction cup device to cut out a hole in a glass door. It's large enough that he and Tommy Five-Tone can slip inside.
  • Human Mail
    • Eddie wakes up in a packing material shipping crate in another country after being rendered unconscious.
    • Hawk later uses this to sneak into the Vatican Museum for the second robbery.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: "Exact change?!"
  • Improvised Zipline: While robbing the Vatican, Eddie throws a rope (with a grappling hook on the end) from the top of a building across a street. He then slides down the rope to escape.
  • Meaningful Name: Butterfinger is clumsy.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: "My God, Minerva! I Was Just Joking!" they dance together.
  • Naughty Nuns: Not that naughty, but she certainly thinks flirting with Eddie is a guilty pleasure.
  • Neutral Female: Subverted. She does free herself. And, during the fight with Alfred at the end, she does try to help Eddie. Unfortunately, her aim sucks, but, to be fair, she is a nun, and therefore probably not particularly experienced in the operation of firearms.
  • Nice Hat: To Eddie at least, as realizing that it has fallen off his head is what allows him to break free from the involuntary movements that Kaplan had him locked in.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: Kit Kat in the castle.
  • No Sell
    • Almond Joy is not afraid of Anna with a gun.
    • Hudson is almost unfazeable.
      Darwin: "I'll kill your friends, your family, and that bitch you took to the prom!"
      Hudson: "Betty Jo Biarsky? I can get you an address on that one."
  • Novelization: By Geoffrey Marsh. Shockingly, for a novelization of a film that was being rewritten as it was made, the book is incredibly faithful to the final product, aside from including the deleted subplot about Kaplan killing Hawk's pet monkey Little Eddie.
  • Offhand Backhand: "I'll kick your Centrally Intelligent ass up one side of the piazza and down the other!" Elbow-to-the-face.
  • Offstage Villainy: The third robbery takes place offscreen by the main villians after Hawk is arrested when Tommy fakes his death as part of their plan to escape the Mayflowers.
  • Off with His Head!: "I guess you won't be attending that hat convention in July!"
  • Only Known by Their Nickname
    • Eddie Hawkins, who's called "Hudson Hawk" by everyone except Tommy Five-Tone.
    • We never learn the real names of the Candy Bars.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Butterfinger.
  • Pun
    • "So much for his... cut."
    • Cesar Mario and Antony Mario — i.e., the Mario Bros.
  • Punctuated Pounding: Tommy Five Tone to Darwin Mayflower.
  • Put Their Heads Together: During the auction house robbery, Eddie and Tommy Five-Tone are surprised by two guards. After Tommy uses a rope to trip them, Eddie knocks their heads together to render them unconscious so he can handcuff them.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Candy Bars.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Overlapping: Tommy and Anna, after the Tommy-Hudson fight scene.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: While Hudson is ordering food at a restaurant he speaks in Italian. At the end of the order he asks for some ketchup and the waiter walks away complaining about the uncultured American. None of their Italian dialogue is subtitled.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The "Da Vinci Codex" is a misnomer, as there are at least 5 codices of Da Vinci's. The one in the film is neither; it is a composite of two recognizable Da Vinci works: the Vitruvian Man on one side, which was never in a codex, and the Study on Muscles on the other, which are among the Windsor Folios. No such codex exists. Nor is there a Da Vinci codex in the Vatican Museum.
  • Redundant Rescue: "I got bored, so I saved myself."
  • Rogue Agent: Kaplan and his minions.
  • Rule of Cool: When Eddie and his partner have to synchronize their actions to pull off a heist, do they use their wristwatches? No ... they sing showtunes. While sneaking around inside an occupied building.
  • Rule of Funny: This movie runs with it and the tank is filled baby!
  • Running Gag
    • Eddie can't get an unadulterated cappuccino to save his life. At least, not until the very end. By that point, he's earned it.
      • Tommy comes to prison to pick him up with a cappuccino in a take-away cup. Before he can have a taste, Tommy has to slam on the breaks and spill it all over.
      • At the Five-Tone, Eddie gets one bar-slid to him... only to have it shot out from under his nose by one of the Mario Brothers.
      • After the auction-house job, Eddie decides to make one himself... and the machine shorts out.
      • Eddie gets served one at Anna's place after their date... too bad it tastes too much like ethyl chlorate.
    • The Candy Bars and Kaplan always appear out of nowhere, unexpected and wearing whatever weird clothes they thought about, sometimes trying to fit in, sometimes definitely not.
  • The Series Has Left Reality: The film is realistic up to the point where Eddie and Tommy Five-Tone jump off the building and end up falling into chairs in the Mario Brothers' apartment, with no explanation whatsoever. The movie has a number of reality-defying scenes after that.
  • Sidekick Song: Played with in that the caper-timing songs double as these.
  • Theme Naming: The CIA people are code-named after candy bars; apparently before that, they tried diseases.
    Almond Joy: Do you know what it's like to be called "Chlamydia" for a whole year?
  • Theme Twin Naming: Eddie jokingly asks of the identical twin mooks tasked with following him around, "What do they call you guys? Igg and Ook?" They are credited as such.
  • Threat Backfire
    Darwin Mayflower: I'll kill your friends, your family, and the bitch you took to the prom!
    Hudson Hawk: Betty Jo Biarski? I can get you an address on that if you want.
  • Time Bombs: The rockets, with one case of Delayed Explosion.
  • Time for Plan B
    • After Hawk and Tommy jump off a balcony:
    Minerva: "Plan B, George."
    Kaplan: "...Plan B!"
    • Also when Kaplan and Butterfinger are trying to find a way out of the castle, but things keep blowing up each way they pick.
  • Trojan Horse: "The Pope takes his mail seriously."
  • The Voiceless
    • Kit Kat only communicates through preprinted cards. "MY NAME IS KIT KAT THIS IS NOT A DREAM"
    • Also Igg and Ook until they get shot whereupon for some reason each cries his own name.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Lampshaded in the most hilarious way.
    Eddie: But...the car went off the cliff!
    Tommy: Backseat airbags, can you believe it!?
    Eddie: But....it was on fire!
    Tommy: Built-in sprinkler system, can you fucking believe it!?
  • Unholy Matrimony: The Mayflowers.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Former Trope Namer for the old "Stop Helping Me" trope: Anna decides to pick up a gun and help Hudson during his fight with Alfred. Unfortunately, she's not the best markswoman in the world.
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell
    • Given George Kaplan's ex-CIA, it's not surprising he's awfully bummed about it.
    George Kaplan: Ah, Rome. I did my first bare-handed strangulation here. Communist politician.
    George Kaplan: God, I miss communism. The Red Threat! People were scared, the Agency had some respect, and I got laid every night!
    • About his new, young crew:
    George Kaplan: Punks! They think that the Bay of Pigs is a herbal tea, and the Cold War has something to do with penguins.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Butterfinger.
  • World of Ham: The entire cast (sans James Coburn) seems to be engaging in a scenery-chewing competition, especially Bruce Willis and Richard E. Grant.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The movie is very obviously meant to be set in 1991, but is said to take place 500 years after 1481.
  • Wrong Restaurant: The Candy Bars are ordering dinner at a restaurant in Italy. Butterfinger, who is very stupid, orders a steakburger and french fries because he thinks they're in France.


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