18 March 2007 | theoriginallemartin
I had no idea it would be so different from what Van Damme has done before, 95% DRAMA!!!
OK, before I saw the movie I had no idea it would be so different from what Van Damme has done in the past. Guys, this movie is completely different from anything he has ever done. The movie is 90 95% drama and 5-10% action, yup, it's more of a drama than an action movie and it has a great story.
The movie's main character is Anthony Stowe, a Narcotics cop who was once partnered with Callahan, a man who has since become one of the most important drug dealers in New Orleans and who began his involvement in the drug business during his time as a cop. Stowe, still a cop is now after Callahan, his former partner. The great thing about this story that is similar to others that we've seen in the past is the fact that we don't get the whole story, only parts and pieces of it while the main story of the movie deals with the final part of the cat and mouse game between Stowe and Callahan. The movie looks great, in fact with just 3 exceptions, BUT, these 3 scenes amount to only 15 seconds, or around that, so they can be easily overlooked.
Simon Fellows is clearly a beginner at directing. In Second in Command he tried to create a feeling of revolution/war/chaos through the camera movement, but he failed because he overdid it, he tried too hard and in the end he made some viewers hate the camera movement and the overall style. Rest assured that he has improved tremendously with Until Death. He does some interesting camera moves that actually improve scenes and which ARE METAPHORS FOR THE STORY. YES people, FELLOWS IMPROVES some scenes WITH THE WAY HE DIRECTS. The way the camera is placed or the way the camera moves makes some scenes feel more important, bigger and BETTER than they are and enhances their emotional impact. If only Fellows would learn how to do the same for action, he would then be a much better director.
Van Damme has drastically improved as an actor in a very short time. And with Until Death he hits another one right out of the park, he gives a great performance, at a level at which others have won Oscars at and I am not joking. Unfortunately this is both good and bad. It's good because he can impress the audience and easily carry the movie and it's bad because EVERYONE else looks like an amateur when compared to him. Stephen Rea is GOOD, but he clearly did this movie for the money so does not try very hard. The actress portraying the wife is awful; she couldn't deliver any EMOTION, any impact along with her lines. Her role was VERY IMPORTANT in the movie and her acting was terrible, you can tell she either is an amateur (which is not the case) or not at all interested in the movie, which is what really happened since actress Selina Giles has a long list of acting jobs on her resume. Unfortunately her performance is the weakest of them all and she brings the movie down by quite a lot. It is interesting to see the best actor in the movie (Van Damme) and the worst actor (Selina Giles) at the same time on screen.
Had UNTIL DEATH had a better actress in the role of THE WIFE, a good soundtrack and a more emotional style of direction it could have been a 10/10 movie, as it is at the moment it's at 8.5/10.
It is a completely new and different role for Van Damme, it has small amounts of action compared to his older movies and it is a DRAMA, a type of movie that people might not want to see Van Damme in Until Death told me a great story, a great dramatic story, it showed to me that Van Damme can carry this type of movie and it also gave me a lot of hope for THE SHEPERD (provisional title), Van Damme's next movie which will be filled with action and which is directed by Isaac Florentine (Undisputed 2) and produced by the same people with most of the same important crew behind it.
This is why I respect Van Damme, he has grown as an actor and has created and put in place all the necessary elements to make quality movies. He has improved himself even if he is a DTV star, he keeps in great shape, has become a great actor and can still do some cool action, although he has evolved away from the action filled extravaganzas of the past (which is a good thing). Any new Van Damme movie is guaranteed to be good and interesting and the very nice fact is that his fans are disappointed when his movies fail to be GREAT and are JUST GOOD (as was the case with Second In Command).
Also keep in mind that I saw an edited version so the DVD might have more scenes, more action (a tiny little bit more), a better soundtrack and an even better visual quality as I saw the movie on TV in a TV format and aspect ratio. The DVD version could be drastically better, but even if it isn't this is still a movie I would recommend to anyone who loves a great drama, a great COP drama and some cool action from a classic star of the genre who has reinvented himself and who gave his best acting performance, a performance that I dare say is great by ANY standards.
8.5/10 on any scale