Jean-Claude will be playing a Combat Vet who's just spent the last 3 years fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, who is hired to be a bodyguard to a former World Heavyweight Boxing champ to protect him and his family against a Rap Music Mogul. He sets up a team called "The Hard Corps", complications arise when the boxer suspects that his sister may be in love with the bodyguard.Written by
In an interview with Crave Online, Don Wilson claims he not only worked on and pitched the script with director Sheldon Lettich, but was also set to star. Wilson states that he had been searching for a producer to finance the film when he called Lettich months later and found out that not only had his role been recast with Jean-Claude Van Damme, but filming was nearly complete. See more »
When Terrell reaches into the desk drawer where the two .45 handguns lay and pulls one out and racks the slide to load a round, the camera stays on the gun and the clip is empty as no round gets loaded. See more »
JC seems to be mellowing these days. His film roles are those which play up to his age, his experience, and have JC as more grounded individuals. In Wake Of Death he impressed with a performance that stretched him. In Second In Command, the film wasn't very good, but Van Damme gave a solid performance, albeit in a role without much depth. Now we all kind of realise that in the direct to video world, it's very unlikely you'll find a really decent film, so first and foremost a DTV viewer strives for competence. Wake Of Death had that, as had VD's previous film, In Hell. Second In Command came close, but the crap fairy waved his magic wand and terdinated the film slightly. The Hard Corps regains a level of competence again for Van Damme.
Here JC teams up with long time friend and collaborator, Sheldon Lettich. Together they have made Double Impact (great fun when you're in the right mood) and Lionheart as well. Lettich knows how to get the best from Van Damme, and on the most part does. He also gives the film an assured touch that was lacking in SIC. The plot centres on world heavyweight boxer, and entrepreneur, Wayne Barclay (Raz Adoti), and his sister Tamara (Vivica Fox). As it happens Barclay is far from popular with Rap mogul, and gangsta, Terrell Singleton, as Barclay had him sent to prison years earlier. Upon Terrell's release, the first order of business is to wipe out Barclay. Tamara insists that Wayne hires a security team and contacts a Vietnam Vet who also served in Iraq and Afghanistan, who in turn contacts his old, war scarred buddy, Van Damme. Van Damme is in a veterans psychiatric hospital, tormented by an incident in Iraq that left a school of children destroyed, with dozens of dead kid's inside. So Van Damme hops aboard the Barclay security. On the first night an attempt on Barclays life leaves Van Dammes pal dead, and from there he takes over and then he begins to develop a relationship with Tamara, much to Wayne's disgust. The plot outline seems simple enough, the trouble is the film seems segmented into three stories, and can't divide the screen time (a lengthy 110 minutes) right. As such the film lags in moments and there just ain't enough JC in it. His war torn character is not given enough depth. When we begin to delve into the character, the film takes us away to one of the subplots. In truth the film would have been better at 90 minutes, and with more focus on Van Damme. Still there's good support from Raz Adoti, and also the Foxxy, Vivica Fox.
Anyway, those who see this puppy at their local Blockbusters (probably on a lower to middle shelf, but at least not bottom) will not be too interested in how the plot is. It's the Van Damage they crave. The action here, is okay, with the biggest problem being that not enough time and money is spent on them. Gunfights for example lack impact because of a lack of practical effects. Also because the film isn't all that violent, despite it's R rating, people don't get shot, have their chest burst open with a gallon of blood and fall to the ground in a mangled bloodied heap. Being from the UK, this film is what I'd call standard 15 certificate, which equates to a soft R. Whereas for these movies I prefer a hard R, which over here means an 18 cert. What I mean is that when there's not that much punch in the action, when someone gets shot, there really needs to be a POW. We need to see the blood flying. As an example take Dolph Lundgren's The Mechanik (The Russian Specialist as it's also known). It's a low budget piece which actually did spend its money well on the action, but obviously can't compete with bigger movies that can double the explosion outlay. However the film was very violent, people got shot and you really knew it. Harry Knowles (AICN) himself in fact gave the film a brief mention in a Second In Command review, stating he dug the bloodletting that Dolph let loose upon us. I wouldn't imagine he'd say the same of this. Also the fight scenes although nice and rough, a too few and far between in all honesty. However Van Damme does get to deliver some trademark kicks, but he's still holding back the Helicopter kick for B-2 (a sequel to Bloodsport none the less).
Overall though THC, is a fair piece of entertainment, that surpasses anything Steven Seagal is doing at the moment. Really it's a film that won't blow your socks off, or stick its hand in your underwear and pleasure you, but it's a lot better than watching paint dry. As a point of interest though, Van Damme's next film, Til Death could be great. It's a dark film, that seems to be going for a 70's styled, Death Wish, Get Carter vibe, that sees Van Damme donning a leather jacket and sideburns. It promises to hit hard with the action and get a level of nastiness we saw in VD's Wake Of Death. And if that doesn't get you excited how bout this: Stephen Rea, the Oscar nominated actor recently seen in V for Vendetta, co-stars. AND if that isn't enough, it's also written by Dan Harris, one of the guys responsible for Superman Returns, and X Men 2. But who knows we may even see JC face off against Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 3! I hope so. **1/2
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