Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lawrence Taylor, Marnie Alton, Malakai Davidson, Billy Rieck
Director: Ringo Lam
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: First Look Home Entertain Release Date: 12/09/2008 Run time: 96 minutes Rating: R
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Brett Heitkam | Lena, IL United States | 02/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In Hell is one of the best JCVD movies from his recent direct to video offerings. In the film, he plays Kyle LeBlanc, a French-American man living and working in Russia with his American wife, who soon gets brutally murdered. Kyle is then sent to a Russian prison after he murders the man who killed his wife. Of course, this prison is no cakewalk...actually it makes Oswald State Prison from the HBO show "Oz" literally look like Disney World. The warden and guards are all corrupt and the prisoners who have money get all the perks. The warden also sets up a human cockfighting arena on the prison grounds where he has two prisoners fight (most of the time fight to the death) and he and his friends take bets on the winners. Of course, JCVD sets out to make his way through this corrupt system, help his new prison friends, and get revenge for his wife's death.
The film is very dark, brutal, and bloody, but it is beautifully filmed. There is one scene in particular when Kyle is thrown in "the hole" for misbehaving. In that scene, after Kyle loses hope and tries to hang himself, a moth flies down from the window/rafters above him and the camera beautifully follows it down as it flutters toward Kyle, and then it lands on the handle of the spoon that is in his untouched bowl of gruel, as if to say, "Eat. Get stronger, and you will be able to free yourself from this place." I know it sounds really corny, but it is really a lovely scene and not something that you typically see in JCVD films.
The DVD transfer is awesome. Picture and sound quality are good and you get widescreen and fullscreen to choose from.
Definitely a movie to see, whether you like Van Damme or not. It's a movie for anyone who has ever lost anyone they loved or had their life inexplicably turned upside down and had to fight to get things right."
Worth Buying 4 1/2 Stars
David Borowski | USA | 12/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well I guess I'll do a review too.Reading the plot outline to IN HELL, it would be easy to assume that it's just another typical Jean-Claude Van Damme fancy kicks, buttock shots, big guns festival. But much to my surprise, it wound up being a deep, gritty, poignant, intense and mature picture instead. Who knew? After the abysmal DERAILED (his worst film along with STREETFIGHTER), the Muscles from Brussels returns to top form in what is his best movie since REPLICANT and probably his strongest performance ever. This bitter pill punched hard with its unrestrained display of human ugliness, gripping symbolism and brutal violence which itself was dipped in philosophy and a sadness stricken aura. The films "ace" though was that it played it mainly as an engaging character-driven piece about one mans loss of his soul and his tortuous journey in prison to regain it. Thankfully, J-C was up to the task. I felt his characters pain, gulped a few times and was rooting for the main man the whole way. Visually, the movie also came out a big winner with its strong showing of exquisite photography, stylish/creative shots and an intoxicating morbid atmosphere. Think David Fincher (SEVEN) like. And the fight sequences, you may ask? Well, we're treated to a different flavor than the usual Van Damme here. Gone are the "show off" aerial kicks that wouldn't hold up in a real fight and present is a more grounded style of fighting that reinforced the films realism and emotional impact. Sadly, parts of the script weren't up to par. Without the minor plot holes, the various prison movie cliches, the obvious devices to communicate substance and the tacky "ghost" appearance, the flick would've reached a higher level of quality. But in the end, I was still genuinely moved, impressed and highly entertained by IN HELL. It transcended its faults and affected me on many levels. Way to go, Jean-Claude"
Van Damme is on the way up! 3.5 Stars
A.M.Boughey | Rochester, MN | 03/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As others have noted, both this and "Wake of Death" have shown a change in direction for Van Damme, choosing to delve more into complex roles, drama, and believable acting, rather than two dimensional fight movies. Not that I suspect we will be seeing him on the nomination list at the Oscars any time soon, but here again he turns in a credible performance. After being jailed for avenging his wifes murder, he is subjected to a brutal Eastern Block prison regime, where the dollar rules, the guards and warden are corrupt, and you sleep with one eye open. We see the gradual deterioration of an outwardly "normal" man, whose only means of survival is to become one of the cruel and violent inmates he has come to despise. The fight sequences are short, snappy, brutal and bloody (no box splits, or flying spinning back kicks here) and the viewer is immersed into the savage world of gangs, violence, and desperation. "In Hell" is an apt title, but the film has some surprising twists, and different outcome to what one might expect, and is well directed and well scripted throughout. Hardly an original story, but the European makeover adds another dimension to a standard prison flick of say "Lock Up" or many others. On the whole, I recommend this movie, and hope to see Van Damme continue to develop his characters in this way. I've always enjoyed his other, and often more aimless fight movies so felt a teeny bit agrieved at the lack of martial arts, but overall the movie is pretty darn good. Enjoy!"
Van Dammes best acting yet...is it good enough?
David Borowski | 10/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The story is about Kyle LeBlanc (Van Damme), an American working in Russia, who avenges the death of his wife killed by a criminal after he is found innocent by buying a corrupt judge. Kyle is arrested and goes to a prison controlled by nasty officials and a warden that gains a lot of money organizing and taking bets with fights between the interns. At first, LeBlanc has no meaning to live, haunted by the image of his wife he even tries to kill himself in desperation. But with time he becomes a cold, heartless man, training hard to defend himself from the gangs and from the guards. The dedication leads to a gaining of respect inside those walls, especially in his relationship with his cellmate, a violent and mysterious man (Lawrence Taylor) who works as the living memory of the place, writing about everything that happens there. Rapidly Kyle turns himself into a "savage," brutal fighter, facing opponents even from other prisons and is considered the champion while some of his friends try to make him remember the man that he was. At this time, a new menace arrives in the form of a man called Valya (Michael Bailey Smith), a prisoner transferred only to fight against Kyle.That's the journey of Van Damme's character in one of his most difficult roles. Well, everybody knows that Van Damme it's not Al Pacino but he tries very hard to make a convincing and troubled man tormented by the horrors of the life in jail, floating from a good man to a savage beast. Unfortunately his character is the only one with depth in a script full of holes and clichés, so his efforts are mostly in vain. One good example is his relationship with his cellmate played by Lawrence Taylor; at first they don't like each other but suddenly they became good friends, with very little to explain of justify this, what is a great flaw considering that Taylor's character is the key of the finale and the soul of the film in a way. In order to compensate for the flaws of the script, director Ringo Lam makes the film with a very gritty and dark tone, almost too serious, with a lot of violence and a claustrophobic mood. This is reflected in the fight scenes, all very realistic. Don't expect Van Damme to do his fancy kicks here 'cause it's all about street fighting, with some great grappling moves from sanbo, wrestling and jiu-jitsu, specially in the fight between Van Damme and Michael Bailey Smith, who is the most menacing opponent that Van Damme has faced since Bolo Yeung.But all the atmosphere, the fights, or the will to do a great film are not enough. With so many underdeveloped characters and situations it's frustrating to see all that style; it's a great cover to a so-so book. 5 Stars for Van Damme
3 Stars for the movie"