Overall Grade: (B-)
JCVD continues to show he has plenty left in the tank and still manages to surprise with some well rounded acting chops to account for his aging action persona.
Like many I grew up watching Van Damme flicks. I cannot count how many times I’ve sat back and watched him work his trademark split, or roundhouse kick into a film. Like many other aging action heroes his comeback has been much better than expected with a string of entertaining foreign releases. Over the years he has developed some acting range and he has used it to his advantage to add something to his newer projects that cannot be masked by simple action prowess.
In his newest film JCVD travels to the Philippines, which for some reason was clearly China, not sure if this was an initial typo or film error that they hoped would be overlooked. After trying to help a woman in distress the weary Deacon (JCVD) wakes up in a drug induced daze and soon finds he is missing something, his kidney (haha). Realizing he has been a victim of black-market organ dealing he sets out on a mission to retrieve what is his before it becomes useless.
Without question the premise sounded silly and like a plot from a cheesy 80’s era action romp and honestly that is what I thought I would be sitting back for. But as the story-line progressed I was surprised to see a much more layered script than expected that resulted in a decent family-saga that fueled the course of the film. There was a good amount of action in this one and gave a little of everything from a small car chase and decent gun-play to some passable hand-to-hand action to keep the pace moving.
JCVD gave a strong performance and delivered a range of emotions to pull of his role that I would have loved to have seen him use earlier on in his career. The supporting cast was not the best and their performances were what you would come to expect from a smaller budget film, as were some of the special-effects. This was not a blockbuster with an inflated budget and when you take that into account you can still enjoy what this one gives you.
There was more to the story then expected and it helped add to the enjoyment of watching the script unfold. The filmmakers took a ridiculous premise and make a surprisingly real feeling story-line from it. If this project would have had a bigger budget to cast a stronger team around JCVD to build off his performance this film could have been much better. But in the end JCVD continues to build his acting range and in a film I thought would be nothing but a pedal to the floor action film turned out to be a layered action film with some fun creativity taken into the story direction.
If you are a fan of JCVD then without question give this one a chance. If you want to sit back and watch an enjoyable film with action, and some mild intrigue then give this one a chance as well, you will be surprised at what “The Muscles from Brussels” brings to the screen with his performance.