21 May 2006 | justiceforall
My goodness, is that Van Damme acting?
Firstly, can I just say that this has to be one of the most unoriginal movies I have ever seen. It steals from just about every prison movie ever made, especially "Midnight Express", "Lock Up", "The Green Mile" etc, and with a bit of "Shawshank Redemption" thrown in for good measure. So, if this is the case then why have I given the movie 8 out of 10? Because it's the best Van Damme movie I've ever seen.
Jean-Claude's films are made to appeal to fans of the kind of action film that disappeared from cinemas about 10 years ago: the unthinking, violent, easy-on-the-brain popcorn fodder that he, Arnie and Sly used to churn out by the bucket load. These days, Van Dame is much like Seagal in that all their films go direct-to-video (or DVD, as it now is). However, where as Seagal's post-fame efforts are united by their awfulness, Van Damme has, with "In Hell", made a real effort to do something a bit different.
So, he has no real martial arts skills, and no cheesy one-liners. Instead, he actually acts, and it's quite something to behold. Okay, he's never going to win any awards, but it's nice to see he's making the effort. Director Ringo Lam shoots the movie brilliantly, making it look a trillion pounds when in fact it probably cost about 50p to make. The supporting cast are quite good as well, with no terrible performances rearing up to ruin the film. I must admit, too, that I was quite moved by certain sections, and you could really feel for the prisoners trapped 'in hell' (what a title!).
So, in conclusion, give this movie a watch, and enjoy it- just ignore that you probably know where the plot is going long before it's even got there.