Ben Archer is a thug/enforcer for a criminal organization. Tiring of the work, he tells his coworkers that he’s ready to retire. His wife Cynthia is a social worker for the INS. She brings a Chinese refugee girl to their home. Soon, Sun Quan wants his daughter back. Cynthia Archer is murdered, and Ben’s son Nicholas disappears, along with the Chinese girl. Ben must save the children and avenge his wife’s murder.
When I sat down to watch this movie last evening I expected a fairly ordinary direct-to-video (actually it was released to cinema in France) action movie with Jean-Claude Van Damme that would, at best, be somewhat entertaining. Well I was wrong. After having watched the movie I had to say: Wow that was a good movie! Now the threshold for that wow was of course a bit lower than usual since I was not expecting that much from the movie but still, this is a surprisingly good movie.
Sure it has its silly moves and plot holes like most movies of this kind but it is miles away from the usual brain-dead run-of-the-mill action movie.
First of all, Jean-Claude Van Dame makes a quite decent, even good, performance. Personally I am not much for these sentimental cry-scenes but Jean-Claude manages to make these parts well and at the same time he is brutally cool when he is out seeking his revenge.
The action in the movie is also very enjoyable whether it is car chases, motorcycle chases or martial art displays. When it comes to the latter Jean-Claude proves that he is still good at making these scenes unlike for instance Steven Seagal who mostly stands in one spot waving his hands while trying to hide his beer belly. At times the movie is quite cruel. There is a torture scene which is really good without being unnecessarily graphic. Speaking of graphics, the entire movie is well shot. The cinematography is simply very good. I would even say that for this kind of movie it is great. At times this is a very dark movie and those parts of the movie are really the best.
For me this was a very positive surprise and I found this movie very well worth watching.