Tuesday, 5 February 2008

The Hard Corps


Directed by: Sheldon Lettich
Written by: Sheldon Lettich & George Saunders
Starring: Jean Claude Van Damme, Vivica A. Fox & Raz Adoti

Van Damme plays Philip Sauvage, a former elite soldier turned bodyguard who is given the assignment of protecting famous boxer and entrepreneur, Wayne Barclay (Raz Adoti). A man who has cut off all emotions, Sauvage reluctantly takes the assignment, only to see his best friend gunned down in an attempt on Barclay’s life. Barclay and his sister, Tamara (Vivica A. Fox) take Sauvage in and they set about recruiting a new team of bodyguards. It seems Barclay has made an enemy of a former music mogul turned gangster who is out to settle an old score. Now Sauvage must train a new team and reconnect with his emotions to keep Barclay and his sister safe.

Van Damme has made some solid action films of late with In Hell, Wake of Death and Until Death showing the seasoned Belgian kicker stretching his range and moving away from the smirking, happy go lucky underdog that made his name. Even Second in Command was an entertaining flick that almost re-captured vintage Van Damme. The Hard Corps may not be his best of late, but what it lacks in action, it makes up with a subtle performance from Van Damme and a little more time dedicated to character and story. I’ve been a fan of Van Damme since I was a kid and love all the classics such as Kickboxer and Universal Soldier, and love to see the man kick some butt on screen. A few blips on his record since his glory days haven’t discouraged me as a fan and I still enjoy most of his output. While The Hard Corps disappoints in the action department (there really isn’t much), its good to see Van Damme cooling his jets somewhat and giving back a bit more acting wise. His performance is solid and understated, capturing the shell shocked past of his character, and the blossoming relationship with Fox’s Tamara and friendship with Adoti’s Wayne are also nicely played. Fox and Adoti contribute well; elevating the well worn material and making their characters really stand out.

The Hard Corps reunites Van Damme with frequent collaborator, Sheldon Lettich. The pair made Van Dammage classics, AWOL and Double Impact, and despite working with what appears to be a lower budget, turn out a solid and entertaining flick. As mentioned the lack of action and fighting is somewhat disappointing with only a scrap between Van Damme and Adoti being memorable. The whole hip hop vibe doesn’t work so well, with its clich├ęd dialogue and trappings clashing with the well acted drama scenes. Yet, The Hard Corps isn’t strictly about fighting and action, and with Van Damme maturing it’s good to see the actor actually trying something a little different.

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