Jean-Claude Van Damme Weekend – The Shepherd (2008) Movie Review

Director: Isaac Florentine

Writer: Joe Gayton, Cade Courtley (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Stephen Lord, Natalie J Robb, Gary McDonald, Daniel Perrone, Scott Adkins, Andree Bernard

Plot: A former New Orleans cop battles drug cartels and ex-Army Special Forces who are smuggling drugs from Mexico into U.S. through a Texas border town.

Tagline – Welcome To Mexico

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Van Damme 101

Story: The Shepherd starts when a former New Orleans cop Jack Robideaux (Van Damme) gets a new job as a border control officer under Captain Ramona Garcia (Robb), he gets told to keep his head down, which lasts a couple of hours, given a new partner in Billy Pawnell (McDonald), Jack does get a big bust early on in his career.

With Jack around it only ends up crossing criminal smuggler Benjamin Meyer (Lord) who wants to make this battle personal, trying to put his own business back in, can Jack figure out who to trust within the force.

Thoughts on The Shepherd

Characters – Jack Robideaux has left New Orleans to starts a new job on border control, he wants to keep his head down, but struggles with this, he starts tackling the problems in New Mexico, which sees himself getting targeted, even though he has his own reasons for being part of the patrol. Benjamin Meyer is the man smuggling across the border, an ex-military man who knows how to recruit the strong people around him, he is confident he can either buy or kill his way out of any situation. Captain Ramona Garcia runs the border patrol team, she welcomes are warns Jack about the area, she doesn’t want any attention on her team, which sees her challenging Jack from his first few days. Billy Pawnell is the agent that becomes Jack’s partner, trying to keep his head down after he gets in trouble early on, considered one of the best on the force, a perfect guide for a new member of the team.

PerformancesJean-Claude Van Damme is just an action star that does everything right for an action film, with his fighting skills taking him to centre stage. Sadly, the rest of the cast just don’t get enough time to make a big impact on the story, its not that they are bad, they just don’t have much to do.

StoryThe story here follows a newly appointed border patrol officer that gets into a battle with ruthless smugglers that have been controlling the borders for years. When it comes to the action in a Van Damme movie, we know the story isn’t going to be that deep, while we know there is going to be something behind the motivation for the career change, which there is. The good versus the bad is everything we have seen before, we know there will be twists along the way which works out well for the film.

Action/CrimeThe action comes when we let Van Damme loose to fight, where he will face a younger enemy played by Scott Adkins for the big fight scene, anything to stop the criminal actions being handed out by the cartel gang.

SettingsThe film is set in New Mexico right on the border, which does see how the criminal world would be operating.

Scene of the Movie – Van Damme versus Adkins.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is easy to see the twists coming.

Final Thoughts This is a by the book action film that does everything it needed to without challenging the audience in anyway.

Overall: By the book action.

Jean-Claude Van Damme Weekend – Derailed (2002) Movie Review

Director: Bob Misiorowski

Writer: Jace Anderson, Adam Gierasch (Screenplay) Boaz Davidson (Story)

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Tomas Arana, Laura Harring, Susan Gibney, Lucy Jenner, Jessica Bowman

Plot: On an out of control train holding hostages and high-tech bio-weapons agent Kristoff (Van Damme) becomes a one man army to derail the terrorists and save the lives of everyone on board!

Tagline – A deadly Virus… Only one way to stop it!

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Easy to Watch Action

Story: Derailed starts when special agent Jacques Kristoff (Van Damme) is assigned one more mission, he must escort highly trained thief Galina Konstantin (Harring) who has secrets America want, the two must travel from Austria across the border by train.

His wife Madeline (Gibney) brings the family on the train to surprise him for his birthday, only to bring tension between the two, just are the terrorist Mason Cole (Arana) plays to cause a biological disaster using the train as a weapon.

Thoughts on Derailed

Characters – Jacques Kristoff is a bio-weapons agent that gets sent on one more assignment to escort an asset across the boarder with a weapon, he must lie to his wife about his target, which he gets caught out on, then he must save the passengers on the train from terrorist that want to use the weapon. Mason Cole is the terrorist that has unleashed the bio-weapon knowing there is a vaccine for the right people, he wants the weapon for his own use and is willing to kill either side. Galina is the thief that needs to be escorted, she has her own set of skills which will be used to keep her ahead of any threats that come her way and she will do whatever to survive. Madeline is the wife of Jacques who decides to surprise him for his birthday with his family only to believe he is having an affair.

PerformancesJean-Claude Van Damme is an action star you can watch in nearly anything and he does nothing wrong in the film. Tomas Arana seems to be trying to doing a John Malkovich impression and not the best. Laura Harring does well enough for the seductive woman that needs escorting. While the rest of the cast are fine without doing much.

StoryThe story here follows a soldier that must protect a train after a terrorist releases a deadly bio-weapon on the passengers and nearby station. This does play out like any action story starring Van Damme, it shows him needing to overcome the odds to protect people or in this case loved ones from disaster. It doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, it is easy to watch and plays into Van Damme’s strengths without being on the intensity level of most films from the same genre.

ActionThe action lets Van Damme show of his fighting skills like all of his films do, you won’t be watching this one randomly, only if you are a Van Damme fan.

SettingsMost of the film is set on a train showing that the problems being faced are within tight walls that don’t offer an easy out for anybody to get of.

Scene of the Movie – Train top chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Split scene action.

Final Thoughts This is a truly typical Van Damme action film, it does everything it needs to without being anything that is truly ground breaking.

Overall: Van Damme 101.

Greyhound (2020) Movie Review

Director: Aaron Schneider

Writer: Tom Hanks (Screenplay) C.S. Forester (Novel)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Stephen Graham, Elisabeth Shue, Michael Benz, Rob Morgan, David Maldonado

Plot: Early in World War II, an inexperienced U.S. Navy captain must lead an Allied convoy being stalked by Nazi U-boat wolfpacks.

Tagline – The Only Thing More Dangerous Than the Front Lines Was the Fight to Get There

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: War Movie 101

Story: Greyhound starts as we see the beginning of World War II, where American Naval Ship Captained by Captain Krause (Hanks) as he looks to navigate his way to the frontline, one that will see him need to navigate through Nazi U-boats that are waiting to pick off any incoming ships.

The closer they get to their destination, the more obstacles they must overcome, offering rescue to the ships they find along the way, taking advice from the other ships that they are following and experienced different levels of threat.

Thoughts on Greyhound

Final ThoughtsGreyhound is a war movie that shows the story of a rookie naval captain who looks to guide a fleet of ships to the frontline for the battles in World War II, where they must overcome the odds which will see them getting attacked by countless enemies losing souls along the way. This is another one of those incredible stories of war, it shows us just how many soldiers sacrificed their lives during World War II. While the story is incredible, it isn’t told in the most interesting way, with none of the conflict scenes hitting the intensity you would be expecting. Tom Hanks is strong enough in the leading role, but he never hits the full level of his abilities, with the supporting cast not putting a foot wrong, only they just don’t get to make an impact in anyway. This does end up feeling like one of the bigger disappointments in the year, being more average, rather than a spectacle it should have been.

Overall: Average war film.

Keanu Reeves Weekend – Chain Reaction (1996) Movie Review

Director: Andrew Davis

Writer: J.F. Lawton, Michael Bortman (Screenplay) Arne Schmidt, Rick Seaman, Josh Friedman (Story)

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Morgan Freeman, Rachel Weisz, Fred Ward, Kevin Dunn, Brian Cox, Joanna Cassidy

Plot: Two researchers in a green alternative energy project are put on the run when they are framed for murder and treason.

Tagline – Reaction Time 8-4-96

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Simple Actioner

Story: Chain Reaction starts in a world where energy sources are running low, where scientists Eddie (Reeves), Lily (Weisz) and Paul (Freeman) are working on an alternative energy source using hydrogen, which proves to be a success, until somebody sabotages their project causing massive explosion.

Eddie and Lily find themselves targeted by an FBI investigation, leading them to go on the run to clear their names and prove who was really behind the explosion, a path which shows many different sides to the people they worked with.

Thoughts on Chain Reaction

Characters – Eddie Kasalivich is one of the scientists that has been working on the hydrogen project, he has cracked the problems they were facing and always looks after the people working on the project with him. He narrowly avoids being caught in the explosion, learning of the foul play involved with it, getting framed in the process. He goes on the run to prove he had nothing to do with the explosion and the research was for the greater good for humanity. Paul Shannon is the man that gets the funding for the project, he knows that is free energy could cause problems and is the connection between the truth and the escape. Dr Lily Sinclair is working on the project, which sees her being framed, going on the run with Eddie, learning more about the truth behind what happened. We also have the FBI agents who are following the basic clues, as well as the people who were behind the explosion looking to clean up the loose ends.

PerformancesKeanu Reeves doesn’t do anything wrong in the leading role, he doesn’t get too much to work with as he just doesn’t get loose on the full action side of things. Morgan Freeman and Rachel Weisz are strong enough without being let off the lease for their full potential.

StoryThe story here follows the aftermath of an explosion within an energy research facility, showing how two of the scientists become the suspects who must prove their innocence. This is an interesting idea for a story, using the ideas of a new energy source that could become free and friendly to the world and how people would want to control this. The whole fugitive angle is everything the director is known for works without being too serious with how it unfolds. This is a routine story, with the number of twists thrown in along the way.

Action/Sci-FiThe action does give away the biggest scene in the opening explosion, while the rest is more just chases, that never feel like they are edge of the seat in anyway.

SettingsThe film is set different locations starting with Chicago facing the explosion, while the rest shows the more secret locations a project like this could happen around.

Special EffectsThe effects have dated now, with the opening explosion does not look realistic in anyway.

Scene of the Movie – The escape the explosion.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The rest of the tame chases.

Final Thoughts This is an action film that gave away the biggest moment too early and ends up plodding along at a slow pace, while trying to get over a bigger message.

Overall: Easy Going Action

Keanu Reeves Weekend – The Brotherhood of Justice (1986) Movie Review

Director: Charles Braverman

Writer: Noah Jubelirer, Jeffrey Bloom (Screenplay)

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Lori Loughlin, Keifer Sutherland, Joe Spano, Darren Dalton, Evan Mirand, Don Michael Paul, Billy Zane

Plot: A group of high school students, led by a rich boy Derek, is sick of school violence and decides to become underground vigilantes named “Brotherhood of Justice”. It starts with the idea of “watching people”, but things quickly get out of control. “Brotherhood of Justice” turns out to be another gang of violence. Derek wants to stop it but it is too late, so he takes responsibility for it and gives himself to the law. 

Tagline – They were the best kids in the neighborhood … until they decided it was time to fight back. 

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: 80s Gang Warfare

Story: The Brotherhood of Justice starts as we meet the students are the school, we have wealthy Derek (Reeves) who people look up to mostly because of his wealth, his girlfriend Christie (Loughlin) who must work when not around school and the quiet Victor (Sutherland), the school has suffered a night of vandalism which has seen the increasing tension believe it has come from the minorities within the area.

Deciding to fight back Derek joins a gang known as the Brotherhood of Justice after his teacher Bob (Spano) pushes the students to stand up for themselves against the people that are causing problems who want to use their new gang to fightback causing their own havoc against what they see as the problem within the area.

Thoughts on The Brotherhood of Justice

Characters – Derek comes from a rich family, he has always been given anything he wants, never having to earn a thing in his life, seeing his brother fall victim of the drugs in town, he joins a local gang that want to mess and get revenge on people they believe are creating problems for the local community, which sees him pushing his girlfriend away as he tries to remain in control of the gang and their actions. Christie is the girlfriend of Derek’s she must work hard to get her a chance at college, she has less time to spend with Derek and notice the change coming from within him becoming closer to a classmate. Victor is the loner from school, he works hard in and out of school and will stand up for anybody who is in trouble, including the local gang. Bob is the teacher that pushes the students into trying to stand up for the problems happening at the school, he ends up cause the Brotherhood’s action without saying doing it.

PerformancesKeanu Reeves in the leading role does show us that he can have the leadership appeal as an actor, while he doesn’t do everything we know he is capable of now, it is nice to see where he has come from, Kiefer Sutherland does play the loner character well, one that is older than his character in the mindset. Lori Loughlin doesn’t get enough screen time for which character should be getting more time.

StoryThe story here follows a group of school student that decide to start their own gang in an attempt to get back at the people causing troubles in the school, only for their actions to be everything they are trying to stop. This is an interesting look at how student might try to stop the problems in their own school and how the power it gives can turn somebody into a violent person, seeing how the gang is getting gout of control. This is a story that could never happen now, though it could help if people start dealing with the problems without violence in the first place.

Action/CrimeThe action side of the film revolves around the action of the gang, which is weak fights and a random car chase. This does also show how the crime side of the story that is unfolding.

SettingsThe film does show us the school and the local hangouts for the students, showing how they are using everyday position to fight back.

Scene of the Movie – Dealing with the dealer.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The attacks on people for no reason.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting look at the minds of students that want a change if they can be pushed into stopping problems in their world and just how far they might end up going.

Overall: School life gone too far.