Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Film Review: Pound of Flesh (2015)

Pound of Flesh (Review)
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It has some severe problems as well as some minor issues, but it does manage to entertain throughout most of its runtime."

In Manila, Philippines, Deacon (Jean-Claude Van Damme) awakens in a bathtub full of ice with his kidney missing... and he wants it back.

Pound of Flesh is an interesting film. I don't know if it meets the B-movie criteria, but it certainly has some cheese sprinkled throughout. The story follows Deacon, your clich̩ former special ops super killer. After saving a woman from a violent man and drinking with her at a club, Deacon awakens in a bathtub full of ice without his kidney Рahh, yes, the classic 'kidney theft' story. The thieves were even nice enough to leave some medication and money for his trouble. Unfortunately for them, Deacon needs that kidney for his dying niece. So, he goes out there and beats the crap out of everyone until he finds out who took his kidney. That's your story. Sure, there are other characters and there are some interesting scenes, but there really isn't much to discuss here. The ending was... It was okay, I guess, but it was a bit strange.

Pound of Flesh doesn't really excel in its story. It tries to have character, it wants to have reason, but it ultimately fails to resonate. It relies too much on cheesy cliches and melodrama to be taken seriously. I appreciate the effort, though. Pound of Flesh performs better as an action movie. The shootouts and chase scenes are decent while the fistfights and grappling are great. Sure, it doesn't quite match The Raid 2 in terms of action, but it does offer some thrills of its own. At the same time, it does get a bit stale after a while. I found myself meandering away from the film towards the third act. It can be exhausting watching different iterations of the same scenes after a while.

The acting doesn't fare much better. This is one of those films where Jean-Claude Van Damme is the best actor on screen – that's saying something. Speaking of JCVD, as a big fan, it's always great to see him in action films. You can see he really put some effort into this. The supporting cast is stiff, though. The delivery is lacking conviction and the dialogue is awkward. The cinematography wasn't great, either, especially due to the inconsistent lighting. It often looked like some scenes where shot in front of a green screen when they more than likely were not – or at least they weren't supposed to. It can be jarring. The film is written by Joshua James and directed by Ernie Barbarash. The writing could use some work, especially in terms of character and originality. Barbarash knows how to craft a suspenseful fight scene, but he doesn't quite hit it out of the park in the drama department. He seems to gloss over his cast's issues instead of working for something better. (The dialogue was often baffling.)

Overall, Pound of Flesh is a decent film. It has some severe problems as well as some minor issues, but it does manage to entertain throughout most of its runtime. It doesn't quite embrace its potential b-movie qualities, either, so it doesn't qualify for the 'so-bad-it's-good' accolade. As an action movie, it's simply a decent film. I'm a big Van Damme fan, though, so what do I know? (Let me answer that for you, buddy: I know how to dance like a legend.)

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some partial nudity and sex.

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