Lifestyle Editor, Joshua Rotchelle threshes the mess from the fresh in Pound of Flesh.
Pound of Flesh is a Jean-Claude Van Damme film.
If this does not immediately tell you everything you need to know about it, try this for a hint: the film takes exactly three minutes and 58 seconds to get into a fight scene. Yes, it’s another flick about men with large muscles, physics with bent rules, and drywall with a curious resistance to bullets. And, er, not much else.
Jean-Claude’s latest offering is painfully light on substance. In the space of two hours, it does one thing: get violent. There is nothing else to see. No sense of humour, no exposition, not even a little tension to keep us on the edge of our seats. Just our main man punching, stabbing and shooting his way through anything that moves and isn’t one of the horrendously underdeveloped protagonists.
About halfway through, it does try, and then you immediately wish it hadn’t. With “sad” moments and restrained man-tears, we hear some floppy tale of justification for whoever Van Damme and friends are going to beat up this time, delivered with dialogue so wooden that the film’s producers got a concerned call from the Woodland Trust when the lead character took a stab wound.
To be fair, the film does the one thing it does rather well: all set-pieces and fight scenes are solid and well-choreographed, as you’d expect from an expert after all these years. There are some stand-out action moments as well: at one point, Jean-Claude, as ex-black ops operator (obviously) Deacon quite literally goes bible-bashing, smacking some poor sap with the near side of Genesis, and there’s a nifty car chase too.
However, the film lumbers about so predictably that it’s hard to be impressed. Without a trace of irony, plot device after plot device runs a route that a five-year-old could predict. The main character gets his kidney stolen, and has to get it back for his brother’s daughter who needs it for a transplant while relying on morphine to get by, but the two brothers have a long-unresolved conflict and good heavens I’m falling asleep just writing about it.
Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed plot similarities to a certain Jason Statham flick: Crank, which happens to be my favourite film of all time. Flimsy plotlines are where the similarities end however – despite a bigger budget, Pound of Flesh takes itself too seriously to compete, and has less interesting stunts to boot. A film this silly needs a sense of humour, but Pound of Flesh is totally lacking in this department – and every other department, for that matter.
So, is the answer to go back and watch Crank again? Put it this way: Crank has won two awards, the World Stunt Awards accolade for Best Specialty Stunt and the Women’s Film Critics Circle award for Most Offensive Male Character. What has Pound of Flesh won? Nothing, except for my contempt. In conclusion, Van Damme and co can jog on.
Joshua Rotchelle, Lifestyle Editor