2015 / Director. Ernie Barbarash.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Jean-Claude Van Damme plays Declan, a man visiting China on an important business trip. After gallantly saving a woman from being attacked he finds himself waking up in a bath full of ice with his liver missing. With his connections to the city's underworld he calls upon a favour and sets out on a bloody rampage through the seedy nightclubs and brothels, hellbent on reclaiming his "property". POUND OF FLESH sets itself up to be a solid action thriller and immediately recalls the grimy atmosphere of Van Damme's first film, BLOODSPORT before shifting to a neon-lit ambience, not unlike the recent film ONLY GOD FORGIVES. The organ-theft premise lends itself to a strong revenge narrative and the first half of the film is handled well. Unfortunately it then stumbles into a lackluster drama piece, full of half-assed character developments and convoluted back stories. Add to the mix a whole lot of poorly executed chroma-key and CGI, as well as some shabbily sped up chase scenes and the whole film crumbles into a heap. It's quite disheartening too because with a strong first act I was fully prepared to go along with the story. Van Damme is solid in the lead and delivers yet another understated performance. The stunt work is mostly good too and there's strangely pleasing sequence that exploits his trademark splits move. Something went wrong along the way and POUND OF FLESH ran out of steam, and it appears to have tripped up in post-production. The editing is irritating and the SFX seem lazy. At a 100 minute running time it is also far too long and overstays its welcome by at least 20 minutes. Were the film to be re-cut and cleaned up it could be a taut, fast paced, action thriller worthy of a glowing review. But it's not.