• Tag Archives Jean Claude Van Damme
  • Canister X Movie Review #129: In Hell (2003)

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    In Hell (2003)
    Written by Eric James Virgets and Jorge Alvarez
    Directed by Ringo Lam
    Runtime 98 min.
    4 out of 5

    Kyle’s (Jean Claude Van Damme) wife is murdered and, though the culprit is caught, when the case goes to trial, there’s not enough evidence to convict him. Taking matters into his own hands, Kyle kills the man himself right after and is sentenced to life in Krava prison in Russia. Once there, Kyle discovers the crooked warden hosts fighting battles on the grounds and bets with other wardens who bring fighters in from other prisons.

    At first content to fight, Kyle makes a name for himself as someone not be messed with, but when a close friend is killed, he decides to lower his hands and fight no longer. Following his example, the other inmates no longer fight as well, and the entire order of the prison is challenged.

    But one of the inmates has a secret and in order for the prison to be brought down once and for all, Kyle must step into the ring one last time.

    I got to say I was really impressed with this. This was the first Van Damme prison movie I’ve seen since Death Warrant and, frankly, had a blast watching it. This flick has a strong story and isn’t your usual fair of Van Damme merely fighting and winning the “big one” at the end. Instead, it’s the story of one man’s journey to do what’s right inside prison walls and learning when it’s time to walk away.

    As for the fighting, though, yeah, much more realistic than other JCVD flicks. Lots more wrestling, arm holds, close toe-to-toe stuff, and, dare I say, didn’t have a single patented Van Damme 360-kick in it. The matches were also pretty much 50-50 in terms of blows exchanged, instead of Van Damme winning all the fights until the final guy, then gets his butt beat for ten minutes, before having a big comeback where he dominates and wins (with that 360-kick). The fights in this flick were more blow-for-blow, with one guy winning after the other guy gets knocked out.

    I really enjoyed this, so if you’re in a JCVD mood but also want a good story that sucks you in from the start, In Hell is the way to go.


  • Canister X Movie Review #125: JCVD (2008)

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    JCVD (2008)
    Written by Mabrouk El Mechri, Frédéric Benudis and Christophe Turpin
    Directed by Mabrouk El Mechri
    Runtime 97 min.
    4.5 out of 5

    Jean-Claude Van Damme—international movie star.

    Jean-Claude Van Damme—the Muscles from Brussels.

    Jean-Claude Van Damme—loved by millions

    Jean-Claude Van Damme—criminal?

    It’s a post office hostage situation and Van Damme is suspected to be the guy running the show. He talks to the cops, tells them what he wants, is alone inside with the hostages—he’s got guilty written all over him.

    Except not all is what it seems and Van Damme—hero to all—is having the worst day of his life. Not only did he lose custody of his daughter, he’s broke, has no new movie on the horizon and now he’s getting framed taking a post office with a built-in bank hostage.

    I just finished watching this and I’m still soaking it in. I’ve seen most of Van Damme’s movies and JCVD is nothing like any of them. This isn’t an action movie despite it starting that way. This is a drama. Big time, and Van Damme proves here he is way more than just muscles, high kicks, and guns. This Van Damme is raw, brutally honest, caring and just downright human. No eight-foot-tall-and-bullet-proof karate guy here. This is the story about Van Damme the man (he goes by his own name in the movie), one with heart, potent emotion and a performance that should have been nominated for an Oscar. Seriously.

    Van Damme’s not listed in the movie’s writing credits, but there’s a point in the movie where he talks to the camera about life, Hollywood, the ups and downs and simply apologizes for the mistakes he’s made in real life to those he knows and to those, like us, he doesn’t. Just phenomenal.

    My only little thing was the story seemed to move slowly in parts, but, hey, that could just be me.

    And the ending . . . man, it was just perfect. I really liked how they presented it, especially the climatic scene between Van Damme and the bad guys. To go any other way would have completely ruined the movie, but this was handled nicely. Good on them.

    The sepia coloring used throughout the film added a wonderful grittiness to it, enhancing the drama and its foreign and rustic atmosphere.

    This is a Van Damme movie you’ve never seen before. This is a Van Damme you’ve never seen before.

    You need to see this.