I’ll admit, it’s been a hot minute since the last time I’ve sat down and watched a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, as some of his latest haven’t exactly been classics. His latest, the straight-to-VOD Pound of Flesh,the latest collaboration between the action star and director Ernie Barbarash. He stars as Deacon, an ex-black ops killer who goes to the Philippines to visit his brother George (John Ralston). Turns out that George’s daughter, Isabella, has a rare genetic disease that’s destroying her kidney and it just so happens that Deacon is the only one who is a match (convenient!). So of course he agrees to donate one of his own.
On the night before all of this goes down, he meets mysterious woman at a bar and after spending the night together, he wakes up in a bathtub with her gone and one kidney lighter. Naturally this leads him to set out to find the woman and those responsible for taking his kidney.
It’s definably not one of Van Damme’s best, but I was able to enjoy most of the film as it reminded me of Jason Statham’s Crank series (with how Deacon needs a constant dose of morphine to keep going), but nowhere as crazy and on a (much) lower budget. The one thing I’ll give the film credit for is how it focuses more on Van Damme’s acting than on him going around kicking everyone’s butt (though, sadly, shows too much actual Van Damme butt for my tastes). It’s a nice change of pace for him, one that we’ve been seeing sneak into his films over the past several years, but this movie could’ve used better choreographed fight scenes when push comes to shove.
With this being released on DVD, the visuals and audio are decent enough but still have that low-budget feel. This isn’t anything that will take viewers out of the moment (come on, we’re here for the action!) but the low-level quality is still quite noticeable. There’s no bonus features, either, but the simple fact that we’ve got a brand-new Van Damme film is pretty special on its own.
Those jumping into the movie and thinking it’s like the Van Damme films of old will likely be disappointed. It’s a bit on the draggy side and has all the signs of yet another low-budget VOD-quality film. But if you’re looking to see more of Van Damme’s dramatic chops instead of his martial art ones, Pound of Flesh just might be what you’re looking for.