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In Hell (2003)
16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
A new kind of Van Damme!, 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.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Never underestimate a man who's got nothing to lose!, 6 February 2004

Mason (Ice T) is a man who once had a great job, family and friends but lost all of them to tragedy. All of his chances for a better life went South and he's thinking about going West (dying, committing suicide). Yet, Opportunity knocks on his in the form of a man named Burns (Rutger Hauer), who leads a group of wealthy but bored hunters (actually these men are retired CIA agents) and offers him a job to join their hunting expedition in a remote part of the Northwest. Little does Mason know of the gruesome, sadistic surprise that lies in store: he's their game! However, little do they know that just because a man who down on his luck doesn't mean he couldn't outwit and turn the tables on them. A great all-star cast including Charles S. Dutton and veteran actors like Gary Busey and F. Murray Abraham. A great retelling of a famous classic.

Another Scorcese gangster masterpiece!, 5 January 2003

Gangs of New York is one of the best films of 2002 thus far. Martin Scorsese delivered! Leonardo DiCaprio was great as the young, vengeful Amsterdam Vallon and Cameron Diaz as his love interest, the beautiful Jenny Everdeane. Aside from DiCaprio and Diaz, Daniel Day-Lewis was the one who really stole the show as the notorious William "Bill the Butcher" Cutting. However despite a number of historical accuracies in the film, Scorsese has credibly shown us one example of the early beginnings of mob violence in America. It showed us who was the real gangster behind the bloody street violence in the Five Points-Tammany Hall and that baby-kissing William "Boss" Tweed, portrayed well by Jim Broadbent. I also want to give a little inside information about the character of Daniel Day-Lewis. The real-life William Cutting was William Poole. Bill the Butcher was one of the gang bosses for the Bowery Boys in the lower east side of New York City (Manhattan). He was a butcher as well as a savage brawler and strongarm for xenophobic parties like the Native Americans and Know-Nothings. If you are interested, Gangs of New York is the film to see.