6.3/10
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In Hell (2003)

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A man must survive a prison where hardened criminals battle to the death for the wardens' entertainment.

Director:

Ringo Lam
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean-Claude Van Damme ... Kyle LeBlanc
Lawrence Taylor ... 451
Lloyd Battista ... General Hruschov
Carlos Gómez ... Tolik
Manol Manolov Manol Manolov ... Ivan (as Emanuil Manolov)
Chris Moir ... Billy
Billy Rieck Billy Rieck ... Coolhand
Kaloian Vodenicharov ... Dima (as Kaloyan Vodenicharov)
Alan Davidson Alan Davidson ... Malakai (as Malakai Davidson)
Veselin Kalanovski Veselin Kalanovski ... Sasha
Ivo Tonchev Ivo Tonchev ... Marko
Juan Fernández ... Shubka
Raicho Vasilev Raicho Vasilev ... Andrei
Milos Milicevic Milos Milicevic ... Boo
Michael Bailey Smith ... Valya
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Storyline

Kyle LeBlanc is an American working overseas in Russia. When he hears his wife being attacked over the phone, Kyle rushes home to find that he's too late. The man who killed his wife is found not guilty on lack of evidence. So Kyle takes the law into his own hands, and kills the man to avenge his wife's death. He is sentenced to life in prison without parole. The Russian prison he is sent to is tough, and the warden amuses himself by putting on fights where he fills his pockets with money by betting on the fights. Kyle begins to break and go crazy, so he is forced into these fights because the warden knows he is a sure thing. Kyle's cellmate 451 begins to make him think what he fights for. With that, Kyle knows now he must fight another battle: the fight for inner peace. It is the only way he can become the man he once was. Written by Pat McCurry <laraspal00@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Rage unleashed.

Genres:

Action | Thriller | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive strong brutal violence, language and brief nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 August 2003 (Spain) See more »

Also Known As:

Hell See more »

Filming Locations:

Bulgaria

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Van Damme & Paulo Tocha have both appeared together before in a prison film titled "Death Warrant" in 1990 See more »

Quotes

451: Unity of people can bring down any establishment. Their power was gone.
See more »

Connections

Edited into Shark Zone (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Blaster
Written by Robert L. Klein and Scott Schreer (as Scott P. Schreer)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Hard as nails prison piece with Van Damme showing an acting edge.
19 March 2010 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

Post the release of Timecop in 1994, or arguably Sudden Death the year after, Jean Claude Van Damme has churned out sub-standard actioners that even his undemanding fans have struggled to praise. His career reaching a nadir with the quite dreadful Derailed in 2002. He was literally stuck in the kind of straight to DVD hell that Steven Seagal has been in for the last 15 years. So it was something of a surprise to find that this 2003 film bucked the trend considerably. Now this is no rocket science head scratcher for the action genre fan, it's riddled with prison movie clichés and is as unoriginal as it gets. But it finds Van Damme filling out a role with more depth than the standard beefcake hero roles he was doing in his sleep. If this was a shift that he personally chose to do after having enough of the "for the money only films?" I'm not quite sure, but the result is a brutalistic action piece that contains possibly his second best performance after the critically praised JCVD in 2008.

The plot is simplicity extreme, Van Damme stars as Kyle LeBlanc, who along with his wife is residing in Russia due to work commitments. His wife is raped and murdered and Kyle is aghast as the Russian courts free the culprit on technicalities and bribery sweeteners. He's not having that so promptly guns down the man and gets sent to a hell hole prison for life. Here violence and sexual assault are the order of the day, with the governor happy to put on brutal fights to the death purely for his, and his friends, entertainment. Kyle is not a violent man but he's forced to become violent just to survive.

Yes it's a pretty formulaic as it sounds, you could run thru about ten prison based movies and find the best bits of them used in here. But it does work because of Van Damme's character. He's a good man thrust into a violent world, he gets bullied, he gets desperate, he is out of his depth. It's here that the film differs in the Belgian's career, for he doesn't flex his martial arts muscles, there's no high kick, slow-mo set pieces here. This sees him fighting normal man style, and this only after going thru a Rocky Balboa type training regime. As expected, the fight scenes are violent and Van Damme is immensely competent executing them. Hell! There's even religious and spiritual metaphors in here! I kid you not. In Hell is a must for action film fans, and certainly a must for Van Damme fans who gave up on him by the late 1990s. You will not be surprised by how the plot unfolds, and a couple of corny scenes drop in to say hello (ghost visitations, dear me), but you hopefully will be surprised at Van Damme's performance. And of course there's always some serious buttock kicking action to chew on as well. 7/10


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