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Hardcore (1979)

aka Hardcore

"Oh my God, that's my daughter."

Directed By: 
Written By: 
Details: 109 mins · English · R (USA)


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"Oh my God, that's my daughter."

"Oh, my God... that's my daughter."


Jake Van Dorn (George C. Scott) is a prosperous local businessman in Grand Rapids, Michigan who has strong Calvinist convictions. A single parent, Van Dorn is the father of a seemingly quiet, conservative teenage girl, Kristen, who inexplicably disappears when she goes on a church-sponsored trip to California. A strange private investigator, Andy Mast (Peter Boyle) from Los Angeles, is hired, eventually turning up an 8mm stag film of his daughter with two young men.

Van Dorn then suspects that his daughter was kidnapped and forced to join California's porno underworld. His quest to rescue her takes him on an odyssey through this sleazy adult subculture.

Getting no results from the PI, the police or even from Los Angeles' adult shopkeepers and "rap parlor" women, a desperate Van Dorn ends up posing as a pornography producer in the Los Angeles Free Press, hoping to find information about his daughter. A straggly actor named "Jism Jim", who was in the film with Kristen, knows where she might be and sends him to a sometime porno actress/hooker named Niki (Season Hubley). Van Dorn hires Niki to accompany him on the search for Kristen. Chasing a rumor that Kristen was now filming porn in Mexico, their uneasy alliance moves from L.A. to San Diego. They gradually warm to each other: Niki feels protected by Van Dorn because he is a man who doesn't see her as merely a sex object, and he is able to speak openly to her about his deepest feelings, such as his wife divorcing him. The unlikely pair ends in San Francisco where Van Dorn finds that Kristen may be in the hands of Ratan, a very dangerous porn player who deals in the world of "snuff movies." Yet when Niki refuses to give the address of a porn industry player to Van Dorn, he loses his temper and strikes her. He immediately regrets his action, but the rapport between Van Dorn and Niki is clearly damaged.

Van Dorn and Mast track Ratan to a nightclub where he and Kristen are observing a live sex show. When Van Dorn confronts Ratan, Kristen flees and Ratan slashes Van Dorn with a knife. Mast shoots and kills Ratan. Van Dorn tells Kristen he'll take her home from the people he believes forced her into pornography. However, she responds with anger, stating that she entered porn of her own volition and now felt loved and appreciated in a way that the emotionally distant Van Dorn was unable to offer. Despondent and tearful, Van Dorn promises to leave her alone if she truly prefers, but she relents and says she wants him to stay. The film thus ends on a bittersweet note: there is hope that father and daughter can repair their relationship, but Niki refuses to speak to Van Dorn and walks away, clearly resigned to her life on the streets as it's the only one she knows.

Release Dates:

Theatrical : 1979-02-09 : United States of America

DVD : 2004-09-14