Pound of Flesh could’ve been a fun B-movie but instead it’s yet another in the long line of crappy direct-to-video movies that will in all likelihood end up in the cheap bin at Wal-Mart, Big Lots or your local bargain store. Jean-Claude Van Damme still has some energy to him but when the screenplay is thin on story and production values that are borderline laughable, it’s hard to overcome those obstacles.
Pound of Flesh
Genre(s): Action, Drama
Entertainment One | R – 104 min. – $29.99 | June 23, 2015
THE MOVIE – 1.5/5
There’s something sad seeing the action stars of the 80s and 90s age. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Seagal, Bruce Willis and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Each of them and their latest films haven’t been the best, though from what I’ve seen Schwarzenegger looks good even as an old man Terminator, with Seagal looking the more ragged of the bunch, perhaps giving up any semblance of trying. Make no mistake, none of them were particularly great actors, with maybe the exception of Willis, but they were so damn charming that they could take a crap script and turn it into a cheesy action gem. After seeing Pound of Flesh, the latest from Van Damme, it’s a crap story and annoyingly frenetic editing, yet part of me could appreciate that unlike the others, he hasn’t completely given up…
Pound of Flesh centers on mercenary named Deacon (JEAN CLAUDE-VAN DAMME) has arrived in the Philippines to donate his kidney to his estranged niece and meet his brother George (JOHN RALSTON) whom the pair have had a turbulent history to say the least with the one taking the bad route and the other being a good man as pointed out several times. When he “rescues” Ana (CHARLOTTE PETERS) from her abusive “boyfriend”, his thanks is being drugged with drinks, brought back to his hotel room only to wake up in a tub full of ice and a scar on his back, kidney removed. With the help of former enemy turned friend Kung (AKI ALEONG) as well as Ana feeling terrible for what was done, attempt to track the perpetrators through the streets, recover the kidney, and help save Deacon’s niece before it’s too late (without it, she only has a few months to live).
On the surface, Pound of Flesh looks like it could be a fun B-movie actioner and with Van Damme kicking ass, not to mention the tagline “They stole his kidney. He wants it back.”, it’s a safe assumption, but what we get is a really, really poorly made movie with laughable bad production design including some of the worst uses of green screen I’ve seen in some time. Beyond that, though, the action scenes aren’t very well shot and the editing was perplexingly jarring, jump cuts culled from what I assume were B-roll footage.
The acting isn’t all that noteworthy either but to be fair, I wasn’t expecting anything approaching greatness either considering the material; though for a debut, Charlotte Peters isn’t awful in the female lead. Yet I will say Jean Claude Van Damme at least still possesses some charisma in spite of the film’s inherent flaws. But charisma only takes a film so far and sadly I can only chalk this up to another forgettable and utterly terrible direct-to-video drivel one comes across at a bargain price at Wal-Mart and/or Big Lots.
Pound of Flesh was helmed by Ernie Barbarash who also directed Van Damme in Assassination Games and 6 Bullets and was written by Joshua James whose only other credit is for Alien Uprising.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.5/5
Making-of Featurette (10:29; HD) is an overview on the production, with behind-the-scenes footage, and features on-set interviews with members of the cast and crew as they chat about the plot and characters.
Trailer (1:25; HD)
Previews – Black November, Outcast, Elimination Game
VIDEO – 3.25/5
Pound of Flesh is presented with a 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 1080p high-definition transfer. Even though the picture itself isn’t bad per se, the dirt cheap production values certainly show through especially the green screen shots. Detail is moderately acceptable while colors generally are on the warmer side with some bright scenes showing nicely enough and skin tones appear natural enough albeit there were a couple shots which had a more waxy appearance. This is not a particularly great transfer but satisfactory enough all things considered.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
The movie comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track however the default track is a standard Dolby Digital track so be sure to switch beforehand. In any case, this lossless audio is pretty good though hardly anything noteworthy. Dialogue levels tended to be crisp and clear and the various action scenes including gunfire and explosions did pack a slight punch albeit a minor one. Ambient noises and the score make the most use out of the rear channels relegating most of the action to the center and front speakers.
OVERALL – 2.5/5
Overall, Pound of Flesh could’ve been a fun B-movie but instead it’s yet another in the long line of crappy direct-to-video movies that will in all likelihood end up in the cheap bin at Wal-Mart, Big Lots or your local bargain store. Jean-Claude Van Damme still has some energy to him but when the screenplay is thin on story and production values that are borderline laughable, it’s hard to overcome those obstacles. The Blu-ray released by Entertainment One offers OK audio/video transfers and a thin selection of bonus material.
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.