Bullet Points: Pound of Flesh
In this installment of Bullet Points I’ll be sharing my review of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s recently released film, Pound of Flesh.
Deacon, Van Damme’s character in the film, is a self-proclaimed “bastard” and his role in Pound of Flesh follows the recent trend of Van Damme portraying darker, more complex characters and not the “white meat babyface” heroes many an action fan grew up with.
- Taken It To A New Level: Like 6 Bullets, Pound of Flesh borrows from the successful Taken formula but it takes things to a whole other level as instead of a loved one, it is a vital organ that is taken from Deacon. And while a person can survive with just one kidney, Deacon’s kidney was going to his niece, who needed it to live. So indirectly, the organ thieves are taking away one of Deacon’s loved ones.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Here’s how the whole stolen kidney thing goes down. Deacon arrives in the Philippines, where his brother and niece live and where the kidney transplant operation will take place. With a few days before the surgery, Deacon checks into a hotel and goes out on the town to enjoy some Manila night life. He comes across a woman named Ana (Charlotte Peters) who is arguing with a muscle head named Drake (the late Darren Shahlavi), when Drake puts his hands on Ana and pulls her into an alley, Deacon springs into action and we get our first fight in the movie… a Van Damme/Shahlavi fight is not a bad way to kick off the action in any movie. Deacon sends Drake packing and a grateful Ana offers to buy her knight in shining armor a drink.
- Back To The Hotel: After a few drinks and some dancing, Ana and Deacon end up back at Deacon’s hotel room and Deacon gets N2DEEP… if you know what I mean. Ana spikes Deacon’s water after their love making session and yadda, yadda, yadda he’s waking up in a bath tub filled with ice and with one less kidney. The organ thieves leave some medication and money in the event that Deacon decided to call the authorities it would look like he willingly sold his kidney. But an ex-special forces guy who specializes in KNR (Kidnap and Rescue) is not going to call the cops, he’s going to take matters into his own hands. He calls an old business associate, Kung (played by Aki Aleong of Braddock: Missing in Action III fame) to assist and it isn’t long before his estranged brother, George (John Ralston) shows up and they are trying to track down the mysterious woman Deacon spent the previous evening with.
- Change of Heart: Once Deacon tracks down Ana, she confesses it was all about the money for her and a chance to get out of the prostitution game once and for all. When she learns the kidney that was taken from Deacon was intended for his niece Isabella, she teams up with Deacon, George and Kung to track down Drake and the man who hired him to get the kidney.
- My One Complaint: Going into this movie, I was well aware that this was not a big budget blockbuster. But some of the visual effects left a lot to be desired. There is some really bad green screening going on through out the movie and it is a distraction at times. Plus, there’s a scene towards the end of the movie where Deacon has made his way inside the mansion of the man who paid to steal Deacon’s kidney and I’m almost positive that it isn’t actually Van Damme in a lot of the shots. And it isn’t like there were complex stunts involved that you wouldn’t expect JCVD to do himself. Again, another distraction from what was a good movie overall.
Pound of Flesh is definitely a quality movie. The darker tone does take away from the rewatchability factor. Not to say I would never watch it again, but it will not be a JCVD film I watch countless times, like the classic Bloodsport or even a more recent example, Enemies Closer. #Retrieval.
I wouldn’t recommend this movie to cheer you up on a rainy day, but Pound of Flesh is worth watching. The fight scenes are solid. We even get some classic JCVD splits action as he wrestles a dude in the passenger seat of a moving car. Throw in some explosions and gun fire and you have yourself a good amount of action mixed in with the story of a tortured soul looking to get his kidney back and redeem himself in the process.
Lastly, I do enjoy that they dusted off the old gem of an explanation as to why Deacon sounds like he is from Europe and his brother George is American. It’s the old Kickboxer explanation… parents got divorced when the boys were very young, one parent lived in the United States, the other lived in Europe and they each got a kid to raise. That’s classic Van Damme in a modern Van Damme world.