Runtime: 105 Mins
What To Expect: Body doubles, misery…
I wanted to like this movie. Maybe it was the premise – man goes on gun-toting, karate-chopping rampage after some pissants steal his kidney. Maybe it was some of those clips of Jean Claude Van Damme shooting some high kicks. But the truth is this is a miserable, deathly cheap sinkhole of eye-repellant. Even giving it a four out of ten, I feel like I’m being kind of generous. I’m sad that JCVD went all out to promote this, seeing what it ultimately was. It won’t do much to raise his profile.
Our Belgian favourite wakes up while in Thailand without a kidney, with prescription meds left in its place (so the cops think that he sold it out of desperation, these crims put thought into their theft). It turns out that he needs the organ more than we think, since his niece needed the kidney in order to survive more than three months. So he really must get it back. By the way, he’s a special former special forces operative (yawn) who specialized in securing kidnapped people. Along the way, John Ralston, playing Van Damme’s brother, shows up as a bible thumper and polar opposite of Van Damme’s abrasive character, to lend a hand.
The movie starts out pretty nice, we almost think, shit, this could be pretty good, especially for a DTV. For instance the first fight scene with Van Damme is pretty decent by contemporary standards – still cameras and (mostly) coherent editing. But then the movie hits the skids. The second fight scene is bathed in blackness for the purpose of, I suspect, covering up the doubles going to work. And since many of those involved are wearing dark clothing, often you can’t see who his fighting who.
The story is where it falls apart though, with a dysfunctional family arc between Van Damme and his brother boring us to tears, with atrocious acting being the torpedo that breaks the ship’s back. In the middle of the movie, despite time being of the essence (kidney’s have a short ‘best before date’ guys), there are scenes of melodrama that seem like they belong on a z-list cable soap opera. Bitterly dissappointing. It gets worse though. Even if you ignore the magnitude of goofs and carelessness (Spanish being spoken in Thailand, Chinese road signs..?!), the finale is a slap in the face. The entire thing is filmed in darkness, again, for the purpose of attempting to cover up the fact that Van Damme probably isn’t even on the damned set. Yes, a stunt double, wearing a hat and night vision goggles, just incase you spot it isn’t him.
Van Damme has a few nice kicks and perhaps a minute or two of decent fighting. That’s about it, the rest is trash.