Review: Pound of Flesh
PLOT:Deacon (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is an ex-special forces soldier in the Philippines to donate a kidney to his dying niece. After a drunken one-night stand, he wakes up in a bathtub full of ice, discovering that his kidneys been stolen by black marketers. In order to retrieve his kidney while its still viable, Deacon teams up with his estranged brother and the woman who set him up to get back his pound of flesh.
REVIEW:Jean-Claude Van Damme is one of those aging action heroes I still root for. Unlike a lot of his contemporaries, Van Dammes kept himself in tip-top shape, and despite being well into his fifties, hes pretty much as physically able as he ever was. Whats even better is that as hes gotten older, a certain world-weariness has worked its way into his performances, giving him an edge he didnt have when he was the pin-up muscles from Brussels.
Thats why its really a shame to see him wasted in such a low-rent, routine actioner. Despite impressive location work in the Philippines, POUND OF FLESH is bargain basement DTV fare all the way. Theres listlessness about the whole thing, with veteran DTV director Ernie Barbarash giving this an unappealing, video-like look that makes it feel like a very slapdash affair that was only thrown together when JCVD had a hole in his schedule which may explain the unfortunate doubling of Van Damme in too many of his fights.
Van Damme himself is rather listless in the lead. He still looks cool, and at times borders on being very good in the film (such as the initial bit when he wakes up in a bathtub full of ice). But, it still feels like a paycheck job hes not taking too seriously, with him even opting to keep his tinted glasses on for almost the entire movie. They seem to be transitions or something, which is odd as certain scenes make it look like hes just wearing conventional specks (which would have been kinda cool I like an action hero with glasses) but then there are bits where hes in neon-lit nightclubs where they seem to be full-on shades. Theres nothing more lame that a guy who wears sunglasses at night (apologies to Corey Hart).
POUND OF FLESH is also terribly bloated, with too much exposition and a wholly unnecessary secondary role for JCVDs screen brother, whos walked right out of a book of clichés, down to him being a catholic and praying when hes blowing away bad guys. The dialogue is often atrocious, and one wishes a guy like John Hyams (the man behind the amazing UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING) had come on board to make this a tight little actioner. The only real bright spots are a nice part for veteran character actor Aki Aleong (who worked with JCVD in THE QUEST) and late marital artist Darren Shahlavi, whos ultra-charismatic as the main baddie. What a shame he passed away. He had a lot of potential.
POUND OF FLESH is really only for hardcore JCVD devotees. Its low-rent, bargain basement stuff, and nothing Van Damme hasnt done before and much better to boot. Oh well.