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Dirtyfrog 10-07-2011 04:03 PM

Damage (2009)
Damage (2009)

Starring : Steve Austin , Walton Goggins ( The Shield , Predators ) , Laura Vandervoort ( Supergirl in Smallville )
Genre : Violent drama
Synopsis: John (Austin) is a paroled convict trying to make amend for his past and get a new life but gets drawn into a life of illegal fighting to help his victim's little girl get a much needed heart transplant.

After watching the terrible Arena , i didn't expect too much from this "yet another fighting tournament movie" featuring Steve Austin in "yet another fighting tournament movie". I stop should renting 2 movies by theme. Scoring hot twin sisters is hard , usually you get the nice one and her ugly fat friend. Luckily for me, Arena was the ugly fat friend.

Story : You know the story already but this one actually has a narrative and is more story driven than your average "fighting tournament" movie. I'm not saying it's a mind-blowing story but at least they tried. Upon release , John sets his goal on a new life , finds a job in construction and mostly keeps for himself until 1 day he intervene on some frat boys harassing the local waitress Frankie ( Vandervroot ). This act gets him noticed by Reno (Goggins) , one of the local "down-on-his-luck" gambler who sees in him his chance to make it back in the game. While John isn't too keen on picking up the offer at first even if the money is good, he gets contacted by the wife of the guy he killed and she explains why she was in favor of his parole. John now must live up to his plea for forgiveness.

Acting : It's a Steve Austin movie so you can forget the Oscar performance caliber ,yet with a character that is not unidimensional and a good supporting cast , the acting is a well-above average for this kind of movie. Of all the wrestlers turned actors , Austin is probably the 2nd best behind Dwayne Johnson and his role as John Brickner does give him some material to work with. The conflicted tough-as-nail guy with a good heart suits him well. The real acting star is Walter Goggins tho ( mostly known for his psychotic & corrupt detective role in The Shield as Shane ). He really captures his character. Laura Vandervroot does a decent job as the waitress/nurse/eye candy and her role is meaningful in the "why of it all" story . I do have to give prop to Donnelly Rhodes as Deacon ... one of my back-up underated actor spotlight column if i run out of ideas.

Action : Yes another underground fighting movie so there's fighting going on but compared to most movie of the genre , this one is going for the "keeping-it-real" angle. No unrealistic theme gimmick , no 720 degrees splitkicks or camera tricks. Plainly , it's just bare-knuckled fights with some kicks and the odd weapon appearance ( steel bar , iron knuckle ). Nothing spectacular yet still effective. Also , punches in the face don't sound like a nuclear explosion. Reminded me a lot of Blitz with Statham. The opponents also have their personnality , which in a 2 minutes explanation is very hard to achieve.

Violence : Punches in the face might not seem like much but the way all is captured ( basic cage match , vicious dogs circle , the car arena , etc ) makes it more effective than most of the genre movie i've seen lately. Honestly , i wouldn't want to be in any of those fights. One point I have to notice is the timetable effect : John never gets to truly heal in between fights so he looks pretty much beat-up at the end.
Like this

Final Word : Not a classic but an above-the-average way to kill 90 minutes. The "Keep It Simple Stupid" mentality ( aka KISS) works wonder and what could have been a formulaic experience turned into a movie with a soul. Not a perfect one but intention counts. For a DVD release , it's pretty decent. As a comparison , i'd say it's on par with the more violent yet more dumb The Condemned.


edit BONUS DRINKING GAME : everytime John's parole officer doesn't give a shit , you drink.

XCoRyX 10-09-2011 01:36 PM

I had so much fun with this, and I wish it had gotten theatrical treatment, seriously. It was such a kickass retro, throwback, vintage action movie. It did everything my childhood favorites did and it felt like 1989 was back for 90 or so minutes. Austin is a huge name to wrestling fans etc., but is getting so underlooked in the movie world as far as what he could bring to the table especially for simple but effective action movies. This would've been so damn fun in theaters. The cheesy ass 80s synthesizer music playing at the end? AWESOME. Maybe the awful numbers for The Condemned put a fear in distributors for Austin as a leading man or such, but this was so much fun and will be very underseen in all likelihood.

Dirtyfrog 10-09-2011 08:07 PM

I agree that Austin is a better actor than most people give him credit. It's easy to dismiss him because , in all honesty , 90% of wrestlers-turned-actors suck. Given the right material , he could shine. His stint in Chuck was funny.

IMO Damage was a step in the right direction , let's hope he doesn't get a role in a Disney movie as a chaperon for a bunch of troubled kids ( oh burn Triple H lol )

XCoRyX 10-10-2011 05:40 AM

Yeah, he did another one that came out almost directly at the same time if I'm not mistaken as Damage, called 'The Stranger'. And I know he just did another one with Michael Jai White & Keith Jardine.

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