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until death Until Death
Directed By:
Simon Fellows
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Selina Davis, Mark Dymond, William Ash

Written by:
Ricard Barberini

May 29, 2007

In my mind Jean Claude Van Damme had always been associated with low budget action movies.  He is the European version of Steven Segal: Cheap karate and some action made on a shoe string with hardly any plausible story line. It is the old good guy versus blood sucking corporations; the drug lords; the evil oil companies or the corrupt government officials.  


So, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this movie.  Jean Claude has lost some baby fat and he looks scrawny and mean.  In a way he looks like Al Pacino, gaunt and taciturn.  Not only that but he can act!

The story is simple enough.  The events are taking place in post Katarina New Orleans.  Anthony Snowe (Jean Claude Van Damme) is a narcotic detective who is going through tough times.  He is losing his grip and is into alcohol and drugs.  He is even injecting himself with heroine.  To add to his problems, his wife declares that she is pregnant but the baby is not his.  His nemesis is one Callahan or Callaghan (It was spelled differently in the movie and the credits) played by Stephen Rea.  Callaghan is a drug lord with an army of hoods defending his realm.  Snowe and the rest of the police department target his operations several times but he always bounces back because he has an informant in the police department.

Snowe is betrayed by his bartending girlfriend.  Callaghan captures Snowe and has him shot in the head leaving him for dead. However, Snowe recovers after several months of therapy and goes after Callaghan again even though he is not a member of the police department any more.  This time Callaghan decides to kidnap Snowe’s estranged pregnant wife and kill Snowe for the final time.  Snowe with the help of another disgraced police officer battles the villains and finally kills Callaghan and saves the day.  The husband and wife reunite and live happily ever after.

Jean Claude plays the part of Snowe with great skill.  In every step of the way one can almost sense the agony of a burnt out police officer who is getting deeper and deeper into depression and mental squalor until he is finally shot in the head and put into a long coma.  He comes out of it a different man.  Even then Jean Claude displays his acting ability in the way that he talks and walks. He is a different person now, with symptoms of a person suffering the after effects of a stroke.  He manages the transition skillfully. 

The other actors are not as great with the exception of Gary Beadle as the captain of the detectives Mac.  Gary had a recurring role for many years on the English series East Enders as Paul Trueman.  Stephen Rea as the villainous Callaghan is amateurish and the rest of the actors do not have much to get their teeth into.  That is what makes Jean Claude acting stand out even more.

The director of this movie was Simon Fellows.  Nicely done.  Other than a scene in the pool room in the bar which has a very strong sexual content, the rest of the movie is generally fine for family viewing.   The movie is already on DVD in the US and will be released on the screens and/or DVD in Europe in June.

We give this movie starstar1/2.

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