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In Hell More at IMDbPro »

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57 out of 65 people found the following review useful:

My goodness, is that Van Damme acting?

Author: justiceforall from United Kingdom
21 May 2006

Firstly, can I just say that this has to be one of the most unoriginal movies I have ever seen. It steals from just about every prison movie ever made, especially "Midnight Express", "Lock Up", "The Green Mile" etc, and with a bit of "Shawshank Redemption" thrown in for good measure. So, if this is the case then why have I given the movie 8 out of 10? Because it's the best Van Damme movie I've ever seen.

Jean-Claude's films are made to appeal to fans of the kind of action film that disappeared from cinemas about 10 years ago: the unthinking, violent, easy-on-the-brain popcorn fodder that he, Arnie and Sly used to churn out by the bucket load. These days, Van Dame is much like Seagal in that all their films go direct-to-video (or DVD, as it now is). However, where as Seagal's post-fame efforts are united by their awfulness, Van Damme has, with "In Hell", made a real effort to do something a bit different.

So, he has no real martial arts skills, and no cheesy one-liners. Instead, he actually acts, and it's quite something to behold. Okay, he's never going to win any awards, but it's nice to see he's making the effort. Director Ringo Lam shoots the movie brilliantly, making it look a trillion pounds when in fact it probably cost about 50p to make. The supporting cast are quite good as well, with no terrible performances rearing up to ruin the film. I must admit, too, that I was quite moved by certain sections, and you could really feel for the prisoners trapped 'in hell' (what a title!).

So, in conclusion, give this movie a watch, and enjoy it- just ignore that you probably know where the plot is going long before it's even got there.

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48 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

brutal prison drama

Author: Ruth Robinson
22 February 2004

I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this film, as it was a very hard hitting and brutal drama, which I didn't expect from a Van Damme film. Certain scenes I found profoundly disturbing, but also very gripping and compelling. I think this film deserved more praise than it recieved on it's release, but fans of Van Damme will like it anyway!!! It may also come as a surprise to a more varied movie goer, like it did to me.

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31 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Worth A Look

Author: refinedsugar from Nova Scotia, Canada
21 December 2003

"In Hell" is a prison movie -- and as we all know -- prison movies come with their own set of clichés. You know the type... the ruthless head prison guard, a corrupt warden, inmates of various nationalities and tendencies complete with their own stories all within the worst of living conditions. "In Hell" couples this with an utterly brutal and ultimately dehumanizing set of fight pieces set inside the corrupt lifeless Russian prison that come together to form the latest opus from Ringo Lam and Van Damme. Now you'll either look past these clichés maybe even embrace them and enjoy the movie as-is or you won't and should turn back now. Those heeding the warning will venture to find a movie akin to the 'been-there-seen-that' trait, but with a Van Damme twist and shaped by the dark foreboding hand of Ringo Lam.

"In Hell" finds Kyle LeBlanc (Van Damme) living in the former people's republic. Married and working at a steel mill, we get the notion pretty fast that his marriage has taken a few bumps because of his job's placement. He promises to make things right, but before he can his wife is systematically murdered. In court justice is corrupt and Kyle has to find vengeance in the form of a guard's firearm just outside the courtroom as he kills his wife's murderer in a fit of cold blood. The next we see of Kyle he is a torn weary man on a bus in handcuffs on his way to his new life inside the worst prison man has ever seen. A prison where there is no escape and men fight to the death. This is the premise of "In Hell".

The prison itself is this cold, dark, violent and repulsive rat trap of a place. It feels almost too real. You feel the coldness, the destruction of mankind happening within it's walls through Kyle, the subhuman food and lodging, everything. It's there. You see it, hear it, feel it. Kyle wants out and so will you.

Let me just say that Van Damme's latest efforts have been a mixed bag (and that's being kind). The truth is he's fallen quite a ways from his "Universal Soldier" days and that's what makes "In Hell" such a striking success. This isn't a patterned Van Damme movie. This isn't Van Damme playing Van Damme. The fighting scenes don't even display the usual Van Damme-ish feel to them and that's definitely a good thing. They aren't highly complicated or choreographed. There is no video effects or weird camera angles of any sort to highlight the fighting. It's just raw primitive fighting. No mastering of the martial arts just fisticuffs that are brutal and short to the point.

If you watch your share of b-movies some familiar faces in the supporting cast help things along too. Names like Juan Fernández, Robert LaSardo and real life ex-pro footballer Lawrence Taylor (Any Given Sunday) aptly named prisoner "451" that you'll have to see the film to fully understand why.

"In Hell" is a real nice chance of pace for Van Damme and for that reason alone, I recommend this movie. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a big Van Damme fan myself and "In Hell" is not striking movie-making, but for a DTV prison-farce starring Van Damme of all people if anything it's at least decent.

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45 out of 62 people found the following review useful:

The ugliest nightmares of every grown man's worst fears

Author: kristoffe brodeur ( from New York, NY
24 December 2003

I am a fan of Jean-Claude Van Damme, and its more because I can see where he's come from than the repressiable 'Louisiana' accent he has the audiences endure. In every film, including this one, he's a hero, but in this piece, 'In Hell' he's more of a Snake-Plisken from 'Escape from New York', that being an anti-hero.

The film shows a different side of Eastern Europe, one of corruption and Anti-American sentiment which is all too true to be called dramatized in the film. Must of the tempo of this film is well planned, and the story progresses without a hitch. The choice to use this director was excellent, because he is a moody perfectionist. After viewing the featurette, I could see more clearly why I liked this piece so much. A lot of Hollywood fat has been trimmed off of this film in many scenes. The harsh realities of brutal homosexuality are put forth not to show gayness as the true villain, but power and the total abuse of it. Drag queens, jail cell rape scenes, and one scene stripping Van Damme of his wedding ring really strip the viewer of the safe non-incarcerated life.

The soundtrack is excellent, giving that 'Run Lola Run' techno-house feel, making the occasional use of an orchestra well placed. The sound effects in this piece are good to notice as well, because in some scenes sound plays more of a part of the film than the shots themselves. The shots are very tight, and are obscured at times because of the small studio space used but are perfect for the feeling of claustrophobia on so many levels. One scene even has a solitary confinement that Van Damme endures in where the floor has a release sewer flowing brown through his cell. This is contrasted by an excellent CGI element that makes the film probably work better than if it weren't included. A simple moth.

Aside from the moth, the film has a good cast of actors with well worked characters, which was my primary concern in renting this piece. I didn't want to be let down yet again by some poor action flick that had bad audio, video, and high school C movie acting. Some of the worst possible things that could happen do to everyone in this film, which is a constant reminder of why pain is entertainment, and why this film actually worked well.

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28 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Raw..bloody action at its best !!

Author: qkill007 from London, England
17 December 2003

Van Damme hasn't delivered a hit since a long time. He's finally outdone himself this time. The movie does not have the usual martial arts and special effects, but good wrestling and street brawl techniques. What we have here is raw..bloody action at its best!! The movie like most prison themed movies is about survival. Van Damme doesn't talk much (thats good) but delivers good expression and emotes very well in particular scenes.

Some of the fight sequences and torture scenes have been done amazingly well. The story is not bad and believe me ,I was told that the movie would be crap, instead the movie was better than i expected. The film does have a few real good moments. Overall, its a good film..nothing exceptionally great, but at the same time unforgettable. It's worth a look !

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26 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

At last Van Damme delivers

Author: stefant from stockholm, Sweden
25 October 2003

At last he delivers, after such Bottom of the barrel movies, like Derailed, which must be one of the worst movies to date. In this one Van Damme makes one of is best roles, almost the best prison movie role since Brad Davis in Midnight express (1978) It´s so much fun, to see some new environments, a russian prison which looks so authentic, everyone plays well, standard ingredients is used very well, Strong brutal violence, sodomizing, no glory.

For the first time ever, Van Damme is beaten up during the whole movie, he tries to committ suicide he sleeps in shit. It´s so unusual to see these kind of scenes with Van Damme.

Ringo Lam´s direction is superb,this one and Maximum risk is the best one´s, both directed by Ringo Lam.

See it and really enjoy.

I gave it an 8 out of 10

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19 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Van Damme hits form again!

Author: Thomas Jolliffe (supertom-3) from Marlow, England
29 October 2003

Van Damme's latest effort on paper reads much like many other films he has done, in which he finds himself in a situation when he must participate in illegally set up fights. This film being set in prison is also particularly similar to Death Warrant. These are really where the similarities end because this is more dramatic and less flashy than those. There are no sweeping Van Damme kicks played in glorious slow motion, he doesn't seem invincible and is not able to summon great amounts of strength to down 7ft behemoths in one punch, in this film he is an ordinary guy. If he fights someone who looks like they could take him, then he will have a tough time, and get beat up.

This film allows JC to play a character with some depth and some emotion, a character who we sympathise with in the way his wife's death effects him. He kills his wife's murderer when he is let free and so goes to jail and we see the way in which his character goes on a downward spiral without his wife. While this film attempts to have a sympathetic character it has such a hackneyed script, full of clichés that it ends having ultimately wasted one of Van Damme's best performances and some classy direction from Ringo Lam. He is a grade above other b-movie directors and this film looks great, he worked with a good cinematographer and editor to make this look well beyond its 15 million or so budget.

There isn't a single surprise in the film and many of the supporting cast are bad but the better actors all produce some good moments. You feel for certain characters, it is a shame that the majority of the crew and cast aren't matches for the more talented members, however it does allow JC to stand out.

The fights are not about being flash they are rough and ready and pack a punch, and are superbly edited. It makes a change for Van Damme but far more watchable than other films like Nowhere to Run which showed no flashy martial arts. The fighting in this is more like proper wrestling.

As with many low budget movies there are problems with the special effects, such as dodgy CGI airplanes and a poor synth score. In the end though the film was an enjoyable watch while not great it featured quality in the direction and with a decent performance by Van Dammes standards, were not talking Academy awards by any means but possibly a Video Premiere award nomination. ***

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Jean Claude is the name revenge the Game!

Author: JimmyCamel from utrecht
22 January 2006

Finally Van Damme has done it! After the (train)Disaster movie derailed. he has something he can be proud of. This is one very underrated prison movie,with some nice special FX and a very decent story! the acting is also solid(Van Damme is pretty convincing)and even one of the best performances i've seen in years(in an Action movie)By Mister Lawrence Taylor(one of the greatest Football players ever!!) Who did a great job with the voice over,his voice is very gritty and full of life!!The direction is also very solid(as expected) Ringo Lam is a very good action director, Who always comes up with very clever camera work and usual very innovative fight scenes!!! This is Must See material(once again) for all the Van Damme\prison movie Fans

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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

A new kind of Van Damme!

Author: Otis Beck from St.Louis, Missouri, U.S.
24 April 2004

In Hell, you will find a different Jean-Claude Van Damme. Absent are the overused splits, jump kicks off walls, flips, and his infamous, head-snapping, ballet-like 360* degree jumping spin kicks (I still like them). Instead you find him just using ordinary street fighting techniques, wrestling and getting slammed around half the time. Everyone knows the old saying that a person is the sum of his or her experiences. Well, Van Damme proves it. Kyle LeBlanc (Van Damme)is an American resident alien worker at a Russian engineering plant who plans a vacation with his wife. Tragically, things come crashing down that same evening when his wife is brutally murdered. After the trial results in the killer's acquittal, Kyle, in a fit of rage, guns him down and the guard (by accident). The Russian court unjustly finds him guilty and sentences him to life imprisonment. This is one example of how often too many times politics is thrown into the legal system, American or Russian. Once Kyle sets foot in Kravai (the most notoriously brutal and corrupt prison in Russia), he instantly bears witness to man's inhumanity toward's his fellow man. After being accosted by both violent inmates and sadistic guards, Van Damme slowly turns into a savage monster. The evil warden and his cohorts notices that and forces him to participate in an illegal fighting program. Van Damme not only has to fight for his life, but to also retain his humanity and sanity. I think for a DTV movie Van Damme proved he could be a great actor. He did not play the one-dimensional shallow superhero. In Hell shows us how cruelty can build and at the same time undo a man physically, mentally and spiritually. Here is man who just about reaches the end of his rope, yet he has something to fight for: the memory of his wife still shines on him, in the form of a moth. NFL great Lawrence Taylor does a great job as 451, giving the film the philosophical context. Taylor's 451 reminds me of an ancient proverb: those that harm can teach. While 451 was outwardly a remorseless psychopath, he had in fact held on to what humanity he had left (you will find out how 451 ended in Kravai later). While In Hell is not a silver screen film, it still a great film.

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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

a Nu vAn DammE?

Author: Johnny_B_Commendable from Virginia
26 November 2003

In Hell isn't quite the Oscar winner, but compared to Van Damme's last couple movies (who are we kidding, almost all of his movies), it is a pot of gold.

Sent to life imprisionment for the murder of his wife's killer, he is thrown into the violent world of prision fighting run by the guards. What happens? Watch the movie.

In Hell is shockingly well made due to it not being the typical Van Damme-fare. He shows a wide range of emotion while holding back his martial arts and instead getting beat up in over half the movie. The main reason to see In Hell is to see a damn good Jean Claude Van Damme movie.

8 out of 10

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