What could be worse than hazily waking up in a Filipino bathtub after a night of passion with a stranger you’d rescued that same night, only to realise that some no good sort has removed one of your kidneys? Well, that’s exactly the pickle that Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Deacon finds himself embroiled in.
Now whilst unwillingly losing a kidney isn’t great at the best of times, Deacon is actually in the Philippines so that he can donate said kidney to his dying niece. With time at a premium, he must unravel the mystery as to who took his kidney, why it was taken and, more importantly, get it back in time to save his religious brother’s (John Ralston) dying 9-year-old daughter. Oh, and kick lots of people in the face, obviously. Thing is, the people who Deacon is after are well aware that he is on to them, with hired heavy Drake (the sadly deceased Darren Shahlavi) proving to be a major stumbling block.
As far as Van Damme movies go, Pound of Flesh fits in perfectly with the back catalogue of the Muscles from Brussels. The dialogue is your usual action movie fodder and some of the rear projection effects look as if they’ve been pulled straight from the 1950s, but of course you go into a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie for one thing: the action. From managing to effortlessly keep his sunglasses on his face during one brawl to using a bible to brutalise some assailants, there are certainly action sequences that stand out here. However, the first half of the film is mighty thin on the ground in terms of action. Instead, we seem to get an initial 15 minutes that just focusses on a completely bare-arsed Van Damme stumbling round a bedroom before he and his crew set out to retrieve the missing organ.
To go further into the plot of the film would be to veer on spoiler territory, but it’s fair to say that there are some twists and turns along the way; some predictable, some not so. Van Damme himself does a decent, if not a tad clichéd, job at the centre of the action, and his supporting players’ performances vary from fine to average to awkward. And for a Van Damme film, the action feels a little slack at times, with the sequences that don’t involve JCVD coming off as a clunky and ungainly, and Van Damme’s Deacon often involved in a hazy bubble due to the whole organ removal issue.
Pound of Flesh is one that the Van Damme hounds will lavish their pennies on, although many may end up with a little less action than they’re used to. Either way, this action mystery movie will still deliver many of the familiar beats that you’re used to and will be expecting.
Special Features: None
INFO: POUND OF FLESH / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: ERNIE BARBARASH / SCREENPLAY: JOSHUA JAMES / STARRING: JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME, DARREN SHAHLAVI, CHARLOTTE PETERS, JOHN RALSTON, AKI ALEONG / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 22ND