“What I’m really good at is killing.”
We all know what Jean-Claude Van Damme is really good at, it’s his amazing stunt work and despite his age he continues to be in great physical form. Honestly the only film I’d seen him in after the 90’s was The Expendables 2 and he was one of the only redeemable characters in that film. He made over a dozen films since the last time I had seen him in the first Universal Soldier sequel which was about the moment I lost interest in his work. I grew up enjoying his performances in movies like Bloodsport, Kickboxer, Lionheart, and Universal Soldier, but after that his body of work got very repetitive. I don’t know why I decided to check out Pound of Flesh considering it has been an eternity since I’ve seen him in a starring role and the film hasn’t received any love from critics or audiences, but I guess I just wanted to see if he was doing anything different. I’m sure the nostalgic factor also kicked in a bit.
The film opens with Van Damme waking up in a hotel room naked in a bathtub full of ice. I was immediately reminded of the scene in Universal Soldier and I kind of guessed from the second the story began that this was going to be just another Van Damme vehicle. We get some strange flashbacks (done with cheap effects) where he recalls spending the night with a woman he had saved and everything begins to come back to him slowly. He was drugged by this woman (Charlotte Peters) and now he discovers that his kidney has been removed. The first thing Deacon does is call an old friend, Kung (Aki Aleong), who immediately shows up to offer his assistance. This is where we are told Deacon is in the Philippines visiting his brother, George (John Ralston), and Kung insists that he let things go considering the black market is very dangerous in the region. Deacon will not let it go because the reason for his visit was to donate his kidney to his dying niece. So the quest for his missing kidney begins as he decides to return to the bar where he met the woman and try to connect things from there on. Darren Shahlavi plays the villain who will do what it takes to keep Deacon off his tracks.
With a few exceptional moments where Van Damme gets to use his martial art abilities and prove he can still split his legs, Pound of Flesh is incredibly dull and cringeworthy. The dialogue in this film is incredibly stupid and Aleong’s character is only introduced to explain the situation and to give us some background on who Deacon is. The film is basically a conventional revenge film with a low production value and some absurd revelations. The pacing of the film dragged whenever they tried to force the relationship between the two brothers which wasn’t interesting despite the fact that the story depended on it to build the tension. I think I’ve already written too much about a film that never put any effort into trying to deliver a quality revenge film.