We all know I have a soft spot in my heart for all things Jean Claude Van Damme, I actively seek out all of his movies and consume them. This movie tricked me; JCVD is hardly in it! He isn’t the main character, instead he is just a side character. A teacher to the main character “Hong” played by Cung Le (never heard of him). I feel a little cheated, his face being so prominently displayed on the box art.
This is pretty much just an action movie with no valuable lessons to teach. The action scenes are stylish and cool, I loved each one. The problem is the plot: it doesn’t make any sense. There are memories and flashbacks mixed into the movie making it very disorienting to watch. It took me until about half way through the movie before I finally realized which scenes are current and which are flashbacks. Finally the story started coming together.
The movie is about an asian guy named “Hong” who is arrested for accidentally shooting a young girl. He was running from something, bumped into her and shot her in the stomach on accident. In prison he meets Jean Claude Van Damme who is this benevolent martial arts master that just can’t wait to teach Hong how to fight. He also instills, in Hong, the idea that, even though he will never forgive himself for murdering that girl, he needs to “do good in the world.” After prison Hong goes to this town called St. Jude. Population: 90,000 racial stereotypes, (latino gangbangers, black gangbangers, Russian mafia wannabes track suites and all) 50 currupt cops, and 3 civilians. Now the movie stops making sense and just starts being absurd. I felt like certain important and major scenes have been cut out of the movie. A great deal of events took place with little to no explanation. Events such as:
- Rival gangs suddenly working together.
- People showing no shock or surprise to events that should have shocked and surprised them.
- People changing sides for no apparent reason.
- Explanation into the villain(s) motivations.
- Gangbangers don’t use guns, just chains, pipes and crowbars.
- Why this no-name town is such a hotbed latino, black and russian gang warfare.
- Why Hong decides to clean up THIS particular no-name town.”
- What the fuck Jean Claude Van Damme’s character has anything to do with anything
- The entire ending.
Would I watch this movie again? Yes for sure. The action was great and the plot was borderline hilarious. I would watch this movie with a friend just so we can laugh at the absurd. If the movie wasn’t taking itself so seriously and went the route of Machete, or Tango and Cash and laughed at itself I could have given it a 1 out of 1. But it actually tries and fails to be a “serious” movie. Tries a little to hard.