Pound of Flesh
Van Damme’s looking good in Pound of Flesh, he’s wearing dark glasses to hide the bags under his eyes and is striking in a black suit as he checked into a hotel.
After being so pleased with Kickboxer : Vengence, I was feeling OK taking a chance on another dollar tree action purchase, but there’s always a lingering fear that my luck will run out, especially considering Van Damme’s track record with late career DTV releases.
We start the movie with disjointed images in a sort of halfhearted attempt to give us a backstory. I can’t complain, we’re not going back too far… A couple days probably and it gives us an excuse for a fight within the first five minutes. Van Damme rescues a young woman from a mugger or something in an alley… It’s all very stereo typical. The girl take them out to club for a drink to show him her gratitude, takes her back to her room, and steals his kidney.
No, really. He wakes up in a tub of ice a little lighter, and this is obviously where we get our title pound of flash.
Van Damm phones up Aki Aleongan, an old underworld friend (His charm and delivery actually reminds a great deal of Victor Wong and if they ever wanted to remake Prince of Darkness, he’d make a great Birack) to help him out, because Van Damme is determined to get his kidney back (He figures he’s got 10 hours before it goes to somebody else).
I’m quite amused that VanDamme begins his beat down tour by laying out a couple of club bouncers with a Gideon Bible. He’s in good form here. This first stop leads us to a clue about a fight club where the thief will be, and before we close out the first act, we’ve got to throw in some extra character motivation. After all going after a bunch of action villians just to get your kidney back seems like a kind of silly premise doesn’t it? Turns out he was planning on donating that to his brothers daughter who is three months to live. Things feel a little bit less silly now. A little.
The car chase leads us to a very unpretentious fight club and largely empty room, and a rematch between VanDamme and the mugger – the real mastermind behind the theft. Who we now know was the thieves assistant.
As they get closer to locating the stolen flesh, the black market starts to fight back culminating in Van Damme’s infiltration of a large complex and a last ditch effort attempt to reclaim his property before his niece dies.
It’s a standard direct to video fare and Van Damme action film, no worse than most of the others. It’s hard to like any of these characters though, the hooker who stole the kidney, The fallen priest, or Van Damme’s pretty scummy character and the reasons he’s at odds with his brother. (I’s something when you have to admit that the old gangster buddy is actually the most sympathetic character in the movie!) They could benefit from a pure hero rather than some of these inexplicable shades of gray. It doesn’t pass the watch test, and both the twist and the ending are absolute total drags . Most days of the week I’d probably be more inclined to grab Hard Target or Death Warrant. Then again, you can only watch the same film so many times and as JCVD action goes, this one isn’t terrible.