Warning: Possible Spoilers Ahead
“…it somehow manages to pull off an interesting and watchable story.”
Pound of Flesh is an action-thriller which follows the story of ex-French Special Forces operative Deacon (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who during a visit to the Philippines to donate his kidney to his niece instead wakes up to find it stolen. Remembering just a few details of the events which led up to this discovery, Deacon calls in some of his former underground contacts and enlists the help of his brother, George (John Ralston) to track down the people who have taken his kidney and get it back, before it disappears beyond his reach forever. In what is the third collaboration between Van Damme and director Ernie Barbarash (6 Bullets, Assassination Games), revenge is well and truly in the air, and the stakes are high…
Pound of Flesh begins with Deacon waking up in his hotel room in an ice bath, struggling around the room and attempting to remember what had happened the night before. He recalls defending a woman in an alleyway before heading to a club with her and bringing her back to his hotel room. Just as he is putting together the pieces however, Deacon realises that there is blood all over the room, and looking in the mirror he realises what has happened. In true Van Damme style, Deacon gets pissed off pretty quick, and despite his predicament he calls in favours before heading out and looking for a fight.
You don’t need to look past the first fight sequence in the film however to realise that these have been choreographed specifically for Van Damme to do his thing. In any other movie, it would all look a bit ridiculous, but somehow despite a complete lack of any sense in what is happening, Van Damme still makes it look stupidly cool. There are a lot of flying kicks and wrestling-like moves going on, before he simply beats everyone to death with the bible from his hotel room. Yep, classic Van Damme, but you can’t help but love it every time.
Sadly, it takes more than just some entertaining action sequences to make a good movie, and in most other areas Pound of Flesh falls disappointingly short. The story has great potential, but is ruined by a lot of starting and stopping for unnecessary story telling. What’s more, everyone seems to state the obvious the whole way through, pointing things out and explaining them in so much detail that they may as well make eye contact with the camera, because it is so obvious that this is entirely for the audience. It almost feels like stage acting, which would be good, only this is an action thriller movie, and so it just doesn’t work.
Then there are the characters, some of whom you can get on board with, and others who either don’t make sense or are just entirely predictable. Deacon works; he is ex-special forces, he is here to save a family member, he finds himself in a predicament and he kicks everyone’s ass – the perfect action movie protagonist. His brother works too for the most part. George is a professor and devout Christian. He does not believe in violence, and for reasons which become increasingly clear throughout the movie he does not get on with Deacon. What he does know is that he has to save his daughter, and so naturally he comes along for what in his case is a long and difficult ride. Sadly, Deacon and George neither sound nor look like each other, and it makes the brother thing a little hard to believe.
The rest of the supporting cast do not put in such great performances, but again this is largely down to senseless characters being placed in the story. The main villain throughout the movie is another trained, private military man, just so that Van Damme has someone to fight. The woman who tricks Deacon at the start of the film turns out to be a British girl who “only did it to buy out of her contract” with her pimp. I’m not entirely sure that’s how it works, and neither did I buy it in the movie. Oh, and she is also IDENTICAL to George’s dead wife, so you can guess how that works out! Then there is Kung, an “ex-kidnapper” (which again I am unsure that is how it works) who Deacon contacts for help when he realises what has happened to him. He turns out to just be a friendly old man with a lot of phone numbers and no money, who really seems to play a role of little use nor importance as the story goes on.
Even though Pound of Flesh puts together a set of characters which could easily have been drawn out of a hat, it somehow manages to pull off an interesting and watchable story. Even though I kept cringing throughout, I wanted to know how the movie was going to end, and at no point did I actually consider switching off. Perhaps with a little more time and a lot more budget then, Pound of Flesh might have succeeded in being a strong all round movie. It certainly felt like a cheaper Taken with less enthusiastic acting and an indecisive pace. While I can’t say that the movie was a hit with me then, it kept me entertained for an hour and a half, so it certainly wasn’t a complete let down either…
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.