Van Damme plays a depressed, ex military (or something along those lines. It's never really discussed) by the name of Samson Gaul who is hired to rescue the daughter of an MMA fighter, Andrew, played by Joe Flannigan. Joe portrays the equivalent of Floyd Mayweather in the MMA world.
Surprisingly, you get the feeling that Van Damme is not the lead in this film and from the off set it's apparent that Joe Flannigan is the main attraction here. Joe is an 'MMA fighter' whose daughter has been kidnapped due to his spiraling debts, you later learn that Joe is due to throw a fight and bets against himself for a large sum which he owes to "Vlad". Things don't exactly go accordingly and Vlad deploys a number of his team to kidnap Joe's daughter, Monica. Andrew then realizes that he is in over his head and calls on an old ally who is renowned for his recover of small children. Fans of Jean Claude will be pleased with what he has to offer and looks in tremendous shape when he is boxing a hanging piece of meat a la Rocky style with Joe Flannigan (There are a few references to Sylvester Stallone, Jean Claude saves the best for last which I won't spoil). Samson and his son set out to rescue Monica and reunite her with her father.
Kristopher Van Varenberg is surprisingly entertaining in his role as Samson's son and his shoot-out albeit with the rather unimaginative villains is similar to the Van Damme movies we all grew fond of as a teenager and he certainly has the ability and is worthy enough of carrying the Van Damme name if he so chooses. The main shoot out takes place outside an old mansion and the slow motion 'shoot and kill' moment is very similar to that of the slow motion capture used in his father's earlier films such as the Hard Target. Kris also adds an element of comedy the way he dismembers one of the henchman in the knife scene that takes part in mansion's kitchen. Van Damme's daughter, Bianca Bree/Van Varenberg/Van Damme, I am not sure what she names herself, makes a brief appearance although it really feels like she happened to be on set and they threw a small cameo at her to keep her father happy.
Overall, there are a few action scenes that we have become accustomed with in a Van Damme film – He certainly displays better punching prowess compared his more recent DTV efforts, he takes out three guys Transporter style in the end mansion finale in a small hallway. Although there is more gun action than fight scenes, there isn't really a need for Van Damme to demonstrate his kicking ability as there isn't the opportunity to do so. In fact, I would have expected more from Joe Flannigan's character given his supposed background as an MMA fighter. Joe doesn't participate in too many action scenes and it's transparent he doesn't have any interest in becoming an action star. He should have been a more lovable rogue than an MMA fighter
You kind of hope that Van Damme has more dialogue in the movie. Throughout the film, you feel slightly frustrated that he is not presented with more dialogue and most of his lines are no more than one or two in length.
For those that have seen Assassination Games will instantly feel the Barbarash vibe to this movie, the tone, well used locations and pace of the movie more than give this away.
The story is all too familiar in the direct to video market and isn't going to win any awards and fans of low budget, action, direct to video movies will enjoy this – I give this 6/10.
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