Monday, February 27, 2012

JCVD vs. Death: Death Warrant

I'm sorry, but is that even a thing?  In this flimsy pretense to review a few Jean Claude Van Damme films, I wanted to do Sudden Death.  I mean, it's Die Hard...but in a hockey game.  Fate had other plans, leading me to this film that actually fits me better than I could have imagined.  How so?  For one thing, is stars Art LeFleur.  Secondly, it features Patrick Kilpatrick, a very underrated villain.  It's kind of a shame that he doesn't do a lot here though.  Finally, it is by a very acclaimed and successful screenwriter, getting his first credit here.  Who is it?  I'm not telling just yet.  The plot is simple...kind of.  Van Damm goes undercover in a prison to discover why people are being killed there.  Here's a guess- it's a prison!  In all seriousness, there's some sneaky dealings going on in there and it's up to this Belgian kickboxer to get to the bottom of it.  To find out more, read on...
Remember the guy who wrote the Blade films and Batman Begins?  Well, he started here, folks!
This movie gives a big, exposition dump early on.  Van Damme is a Mountie- never in uniform, sadly- who is going after the killer- The Sandman- who killed his partner- never shown or even named.  He shoots him and that's that.  Surely there's more later...
As a Mountie who is apparently just hanging around the city for the next 16 months, he's sent undercover in a prison.  As a nice guy, he only does it after he gets the hots for his 'contact' there.  Nice.
Thankfully, he has the help of Abar, the First Black Superman in there.  Sadly, it's not really Tobar Mayo.  He'd just mind-control everyone anyhow.
He's also got Benson on his side.  He has a pointless eye scar to boot.  That's...not really all that important, thanks.
Things take a turn for the worse when our hero's identity is uncovered.  How?  As it turns out, The Sandman didn't die, despite taking four slugs to the chest.  Who know that he was immortal?  I guess beer does that.
All of this boils down to a fight between Van Damme and The Sandman.  Clearly, he's the most important character, given that he only appeared in the first five minutes.

After controlling most of the fight, he opens the furnace doors...and just stands there.  It's Van Damme- guess what happens.
Inexplicably, the 'One Last Hurrah' cliche comes up and he jumps out of the furnace.  Within twenty seconds, he gets his head impaled on a pipe.  Odd.

With all of the villains dead, the movie just kind of ends.  What happens to the human organ trafficking ring?  I guess that's done.  The End.
Organs for everyone!  In spite of being about a black market organ ring, it's mostly about Van Damme looking weak.  I don't know this for a fact, but this doesn't seem like 'a Van Damme script.'  You can see films that are either written for him (or by him) or ones that lean towards his strengths.  This is not one of those films.  He does about a dozen kicks in the whole movie- low for him.  He spends most of the time trying to solve a mystery.  Clearly, the guy most famous for doing splits is the guy that I look to for my mystery-solving!  In all seriousness, this is not a bad script per se.  The problem is that it feels like big pieces are cut out of it.  For example, Van Damme's partner and his death.  It's not shown, nor is the character given a name.  Was there a flashback scene cut?  Was he in the original intro but cut for time?  There's a lot of extemporaneous stuff in this film, so it seems like they could have made room.  On a more minor point, I was denied the chance to see Van Damme actually dressed like a Canadian Mountie!  If you're not going to show it, just make him a cop or something.  Good grief!  If you want to see Van Damme do something different, this certainly qualifies.  It could have easily been a film starring Bruce Willis, Michael Dudikoff or anyone else though.  On the plus side, random black midget.  Happy Black History Month, courtesy of Mondo Bizarro...
Next up, the third film I got for Christmas from my friend.  Will Van Damme's sad mug help this hyper-violent revenge tale?  Stay tuned...

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