Street Fighter (1994)

Director: Steven E de Souza

Writer: Steven E de Souza (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Raul Julia, Ming-Na Wen, Damian Chapa, Kylie Minogue, Simon Callow, Byron Mann

 

Plot: Col. Guile and various other martial arts heroes fight against the tyranny of Dictator M. Bison and his cohorts.


Tagline – The solution.

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Basic Action Nonsense

 

Story: Street Fighter starts as the evil tyrant Bison (Julia) has been controlling the country of Shadaloo, Col William Guile (Van Damme) is leading the assault to bring him down after his latest demand is 20 Billion Dollars, to save the hostages he has taken. Chun-Li (Wen) has been reporting the story only for herself to have a personal investment in taking him down too.

Colonel Guile recruits Ken (Chapa) and Ryu (Mann) to go undercover to locate the secret base, before it is too late giving Guile a chance to go face to face with Bison in an ultimate fight between the two men.

 

Thoughts on Street Fighter

 

Characters – Colonel Guile is part of the Allied Nations a soldier that is trying a bring an end to the evil tyrant Bison, he is an expert in martial arts and will put himself in the line of fire in an attempt to stop this man. Bison is the dictator tyrant holding the country hostage, he is willing to offer anybody a chance to fight for their freedom, but his skills are beyond anything any normal person can handle, he is almost waiting for Guile to arrive for a worthy opponent.  Chun-Li is a journalist with her own reasons for hunting down Bison, she is able to handle herself in a fight and willing to take just as many chances as Guile in finding the truth. Ken is involved in his own dealings with one of Bison’s supplies, he is used to get close to Bison to help locate the base of operations, while being one of the best fighters in the world.

PerformancesJean-Claude Van Damme is nowhere near his best in this role, he might handle the fighting, but everything else just looks out of place. Raul Julia is easily the best thing in this film, he is so wildly over the top you just want to see where he takes this character next. Ming-Na Wen does bring her character to life which is entertaining, though she seems to vanish for parts of the second half. We do get plenty of different characters from the history of the games, the performances are mixed as they look to bring these generic figures to life.

StoryThe story follows the Allied Nations trying to bring down a tyrant trying to take over a country with his ludicrous demands, we see the favourite fighters from the game come into battle on both sides as they look to bring the end to the war for the country. This was one of the first attempts to bring a video game to life, we do get the characters, though as I am not a fan of the game, I can’t tell you how accurate the characters are. This isn’t a difficult story to follow, though it does feel like it wants to put all the favourite characters in scenes even if they aren’t always written strongly. This is however a good alcohol story because you can make a drinking game out of it.

Action/ComedyThe action in the film is countless numbers of fights, each fighter does have their own style, only for the scenes not being shot in the strongest style. This film does have comedy, though I am not sure if it is meant to be a comedy or not.

SettingsThe film uses the typical locations with the secret base for the villain being a major part of the settings, it is filled with the gadgets you would expect to see from a video game style location.

Special EffectsThe effects are low budget without being anything that will be remembered for being strong.


Scene of the Movie –
The final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many characters not getting enough time to shine.

Final ThoughtsThis is the typical video game movie that just didn’t work, we have too many iconic characters that don’t get their time to shine which would only disappoint the fans of the game.

 

Overall: Disappointing video game movie.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Crime – U – Until Death (2007)

Director: Simon Fellows

Writer: Dan Harris, James Portolese (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Selina Giles, Stephen Rea, Mark Dymond, William Ash, Stephen Lord, Gary Beadle

 

Plot: Stowe is a dirty cop who is hooked on heroin, and everyone dislikes him. Because of an accident he is put into a coma, and comes out of it a better person. He wakes up wanting to put things right.


Tagline – They put him in a coma, now he’s going to put them out of their misery.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacks the Action

 

Story: Until Death starts as we see how Anthony Stowe (Van Damme) operates under his own addictions of heroin, sex alcohol which has put his career on the edge, his marriage in the drain and his enemy Gabriel Callaghan (Rea) is getting away with the crimes he wants.

When Gabriel catches up with Anthony, he puts a bullet in his skull leaving him for dead, only to leave him in a coma in which he shouldn’t recover from. 6 months later he awakens from his coma and is left to the care of his estranged wife Valerie (Giles), as he recovers it turns out he has changed becoming a better person and even more determined to track down Gabriel.

 

Thoughts on Until Death

 

Characters – Anthony Stowes is a dirty cop, hooked on heroin with enemies in the force and on the streets, the methods have made his hard to work with and his long running pursuit of Callaghan puts him in the firing line. After he gets shot and left for dead, he must recover, a process which see him changing to become a better man. Valerie is the wife that is about to divorce Anthony after years of problems between the two, after his injury she takes him in even though she has moved on with her life. Gabriel Callaghan is the ruthless mobster trying to get ahead in the city, he disposes of anyone that gets in his way and won’t let Stowe stop his plan.

PerformancesWe watch Van Damme movies to watch him kick ass, not because of his acting standards, he is good through the film as does give us a chance to work on his serious reactions, he doesn’t get to show the fighting enough though. Selina Giles does struggle with her role though, you never believe her acting in this role. Stephen Rea does seem to enjoy this villainous role where he can become darker as the film unfolds.

StoryThe story follows a dirty cop that goes head to head with a crime boss only for his crashing life to be turned around by a near death experience. The pacing of the story is slow for my liking, we spend too much time with the bad version of Stowe and not enough on the reborn versions road to redemption, which is by the book. Granted we don’t need the deepest story here because we know what we are getting going into the film.

Action/CrimeThe action is held back for the final act of the movie, which is fine, but when you have Van Damme in the leading role, you would expect more. The crime side of the film does play into the bigger picture of what is going on which give the characters the biggest part of the development they get.

SettingsThe film uses New Orleans as the setting which is always a city used for dirty cop locations, it works well without being over used for the films backdrop.


Scene of the Movie –
Final act is the saving grace of the film.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The damn camera turns.

Final ThoughtsThis is a typical Van Damme action movie, it tries to give us a serious side without being able to capture this and we are saved by a final act action sequence which is entertaining to watch.

 

Overall: Van Damme 101

Rating

 

 

Maximum Risk (1996)

Director: Ringo Lam

Writer: Larry Ferguson (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Natasha Henstridge, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Zach Grenier, Paul Ben-Victor, Frank Senger

 

Plot: A cop/flic discovers that he had a twin who just got murdered in Nice, France. In order to find out who did it, he takes his place including the cute girlfriend in Little Odessa, NYC.


Tagline – The other side of safe.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Typical Van Damme

 

Story: Maximum Risk starts when a French police detective Alain Moreau (Van Damme) sees a man killed, the man looks identical to him and Alain learns that he did in fact have a twin brother. Alain must now look to investigate the murder of his twin brother with his partner Sebastien (Anglade).

Alain learns that his brother was adopted by a Russian family and that he has gone onto to raise up the Russian mob, only he is wanted by them, Alain is joined by Alex (Henstridge) his brother’s girlfriend as they look to bring down Ivan (Grenier) the leader of the Russian Mob.

 

Thoughts on Maximum Risk

 

Characters – Alain is a French police detective that lives a normal life in Nice, his life if turned upside down when he finds a body that looks identical to himself, learning that he does have a twin brother. Alain go in search for answers which leads him to New York city and the Russian mob, here Alain must learn who he can trust and why his brother is killed, while showing all his fighting skills. Alex is the brother’s girlfriend, she knows he danger Alain has walked into and will help him get out of the life of crime that his brother was part of. Sebastien is the partner of Alain back in France, he has worked with him for years, only he stays in France for the investigation. Ivan Dzasokhov is the Russian that has been hunting down Alain, he wants something that he posses and knows it could give up his freedom is the secret it released.

PerformancesJean-Claude Van Damme is the man we know for action, when he gets to fight we know we get quality scenes, when it comes to becoming serious he isn’t on the same level. Natasha Henstridge was fresh of the back of Species here and easily fit the role for looks, while never getting her chance to do much more. The rest of the cast fill their roles to help make Van Damme look good in the action sequences.

StoryThe story follows a man that must unlock the mystery behind why his unknown brother was murdered, which sees him enter the world of the Russian mob. Let’s be honest, the story isn’t always the most important part of any Van Damme movie, we just want to watch him kick people’s asses. This story puts him in a place where he just doesn’t know where each step will take him, we get plenty of people that want Alain dead which shows he doesn’t know who to trust, but we always know that he is going to come out on top, it is an easy relaxing action film for the story side of things.

Action/Crime/MysteryThe action here involves Van Damme doing his thing, kicking ass regardless of the size of the opponent. We follow a police officer entering the world of the Russian mob which brings us into the crime elements of the story, while the mystery comes from just who could be trusted during this time.

SettingsThe film takes place in two main cities, Nice in France and New York, we do get the fish out of water idea with Alain in New York here.


Scene of the Movie –
The sauna fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is pretty basic.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple easy to follow action movie that we are used to seeing from Van Damme.

 

Overall: Simple Van Damme Action Film.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – Q – Gene Quintano – Sudden Death (1995)

Director: Peter Hyams

Writer: Gene Quintano (Screenplay) Karen Baldwin (Story)

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Powers Boothe, Raymond J Barry, Whittni Wright, Ross Malinger, Dorian Harewood

 

Plot: A former fireman takes on a group of terrorists holding the Vice President and others hostage during the seventh game of the NHL Stanley Cup finals.


Tagline – Tonight, 17 thousand hockey fans have been taken hostage…but just one of them knows it.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Hugely Entertaining Action Film

 

Story: Sudden Death starts as we meet firefighter Darren McCord (Van Damme) who is involved in a tragic rescue resulting in a young girls death. 2-years-later McCord has got a job as a fire inspector for the city ice hockey team as they are preparing for the seventh game in the Stanley Cup, taking his two children Emily (Wright) and Tyler (Malinger) to the game.

With the game under way Joshua Foss (Boothe) executes his plan to hold the Vice President (Barry) hostage along with the rest of the arena threatening to kill the hostage unless he gets paid, McCord becomes the only person that can save the arena and redeem his reputation.

 

Thoughts on Sudden Death

 

Characters – Darren McCord is a former firefighter who lost a young girl during a rescue, 2-years-late he is now a fire marshal for the ice hockey arena, he takes his kids to the game only for his daughter to be taken by the terrorists. He must use his fighting skills to stay ahead of the terrorists and save not only his daughter, but the vice President and the rest of the spectators in the arena. Joshua Foss is the leader of the terrorists, he wants money and lots of it, knowing where to take it from, he will kill anyone who is involved in the plan, he will kill hostages being a man of his word knowing he has a full arena of victims. Vice President is the man being held hostage by Joshua, he remains calm knowing that the situation doesn’t need to get out of hand no matter how many people Joshua executes. We do have Darren’s kids who are both just what you would expect with the members of the terrorist group completing the mix with the generic ones we know.

PerformancesJean-Claude Van Damme is one of the biggest icons in action, this could very well be one of his best roles, he looks like an everyday man with his own problems acting like a hero and showing us the fighting skills which have made him famous Power Boothe is great in the villainous role, he calmness makes his character fell disturbing throughout the film and is easily on of the underrated villains of the action genre. The rest of the cast are good, while the main two steal the show.

StoryThe story is what people branded ‘Die Hard, in an Ice Hockey Arena’ that is the best way to describe it, a former hero needing to redeem himself from a past mistake and when the chance presents itself in the ice hockey arena he must save the people from a criminal. It uses the real-time feeling as the have the game being the countdown through the events which does help show the rush to save the day as well as dealing with a villain that is cold-hearted and has been planning this job for years. For action we don’t always need the deepest of stories, this shows us what we can have achieved within the time period in question.

Action/CrimeThe action shows McCord going up against different henchman in different locations around the arena, even if the kitchen one against the penguin suit is the one you will most likely remember. The crime shows how a robbery can be put together to work like clockwork even if things don’t always go to plan.

SettingsThe film is set in the ice hockey arena, the action needs to remain here for the whole game giving us a tidy timeline to deal with through the film.


Scene of the Movie –
McCord versus the penguin.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We miss the comic relief needed for the bonkers side of the idea.

Final Thoughts – This is an enjoyable action film that shows us just how entertaining Jean-Claude Van Damme can be if we are allowed to let him off his leash to fight.

 

Overall: Action film to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Kickboxer: Retaliation (2018)

Director: Dimitri Logothetis

Writer: Dimitri Logothetis, Jim McGrath (Screenplay)

Starring: Alain Moussi, Christopher Lambert, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Mike Tyson, Sara Malakul Lane, Hafpor Julius Bjornsson

 

Plot: One year after the events of “Kickboxer: Vengeance”, Kurt Sloan has vowed never to return to Thailand. However, while gearing up for a MMA title shot, he finds himself sedated and forced back into Thailand, this time in prison. He is there because the ones responsible want him to face a 6’8″ 400 lbs. beast named Mongkut and in return for the fight, Kurt will get one million dollars and his freedom back. Kurt at first refuses, in which a bounty is placed on his head as a way to force him to face Mongkut. Kurt soon learns he will have no other choice and will undergo his most rigorous training yet under some unexpected mentors in order to face Mongkut in hopes to regain his freedom.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Kickass Fighting Film

 

Story: Kickboxer: Retaliation starts after the events of the first film, Kurt Sloane (Moussi) is rising up the ranks of the MMA world only to find himself abducted back to Thailand, thrown in jail by Thomas Moore (Lambert) who will only set him free, if he defends his title against new champion Mongkut (Bjornsson).

First refusing, a bounty is placed on his head with other prisoners wanting to kill him, Briggs (Tyson) and a now blinded Durand (Van Damme) help Kurt train once Kurt’s wife Liu (Lane) is used to bait him into the fight. Can Kurt defeat this unstoppable fighting machine?

 

Thoughts on Kickboxer: Retaliation

 

Characters – Kurt Sloane defeated Tong Po in Thailand and went off to rebuild his MMA career with his new wife in America. This hasn’t made the underground fighters happy, as he is drawn back to Thailand to fight the next contender and must train to defeat this next fighter, who is deadlier than anyone he has fought before. He does try to be funny at times, but it misses most of the time. Thomas Moore is the businessman who wants to see what Kurt can do against his own choice of champion, he will force Kurt into battle at any means, even if he is smart enough to negotiate terms. Master Durand has been blinded by Moore because of his involvement in the Tong Po death, he still is deadly in combat and trains Kurt to stand a chance to defeat Mongkut. Briggs becomes the friend in prison that shows him how to recover from injuries and fight in a calm faster method. Liu is the wife that Kurt met in the previous film, she comes searching for him only to become the bait and the one that pushes Kurt for her own safety. Mongkut is the powerhouse that Kurt must fight for his freedom, 6’10 over 400lbs, his is a killing fighting machine, built to be the deadliest fighter in the world.

PerformancesAlain Moussi is brilliant when it comes to the combat side of the film, there is no question about it, but when it comes to the more serious side of his character he does struggle at times. Lambert does make for an interesting villain of the piece, but does seem like he is taking things slightly too lightly. Van Damme and Tyson are both good at the fighting, but not the acting where they both feel like they could bring a lot more to the table. Bjornsson is the presence when it comes to the fighter which is needed, while Lane is fine in the supporting role.

StoryThe story follows Kurt as he is dragged back into the underground fighting world, where he must take on a bigger, deadlier contender for his recently won crown. This is a tried and tested formula for this genre which we know works, we don’t need to change it because we are watching this more for the fights than the depth of the story. there are a few weak points in the story, where you would like a bigger emotional impact on the events of a moment, but the fights soon make you forget this.

ActionThe action in this film gives us plenty of fighting sequences, be it the numbers game in prison where we get to see the different styles Kurt can bring to the table and adapt too, or the one on one match against Mongkut which is the David v Goliath story we have heard about for years.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to help with the fights, we get to have environmental fights using them to make each fight unique.


Scene of the Movie –
The showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The emotional impact of a certain meeting with Mongkut.

Final ThoughtsThis does build on the last instalment well, the fights feel bigger and last a lot longer which is what we want to see more often in this style of film.

 

Overall: Enjoyable Action film.

Rating