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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 8/6/99



Van Damage!

reviews by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

Jean-Claude Van Damme on DVD


Kickboxer
Kickboxer
1989 (1999) - HBO

Film Rating: C

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B/B

Specs and Features:

97 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, cast and crew bios, film-themed menus with animation and music, scene access (12 chapters), languages: English (DD 3.0) & French (DD mono), subtitles: English, French & Spanish, Close Captioned





Cyborg

Cyborg
1989 (1997) - MGM/UA

Film Rating: D

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C-/B+/C

Specs and Features:

86 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, dual-layered (widescreen on one layer, full frame on the other), Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (21 chapters), languages: English (DD 3.0) & French (DD mono), subtitles: English, French & Spanish, Close Captioned




Black Eagle
Black Eagle
1988 (1998) - Reel Entertainment in Digital/Imperial Entertainment

Film Rating: D

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): D+/D/C-

Specs and Features:

93 mins, R, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer, cast and crew bios, production notes, film-themed menu screens, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English & Spanish (DD 2.0), subtitles: none


Kickboxer

What's a man to do when his champion kickboxing brother is viciously paralyzed by a combatant in the ring? Well, when you get a load of Tong Po (the huge Thai baddie in this flick), personally you'd be smart to run the opposite way. But Van Damme is better than us. Go ahead, ask him -- he'll tell you it's true. Van Damme don't play that, and so he dedicates himself to training harder, deeper, and faster, so that he can kick higher, split wider, and spin, spin, spin like a little girl on ice skates. When Van Damme finally comes face to face with the evil (is he truly evil, or is he just focused?) Tong Po, does he have what it takes to bring vengeance down like a feather pillow at a slumber party? What do you think?

Honestly, this flick pretty much sucks up until the last fight sequence. Van Damme tries earnestly to act, but he's still Van Damme, after all. The guy who plays his brother is an egotistical jerk up until he's paralyzed, so you're pretty much saying to yourself, "Good, ya big ass! See what happens when you run around having fun instead of training?" All in all, Kickboxer is a lesser entry in the Van Damme Disc-O-Rama.

This DVD is middle of the road, in terms of quality. The picture shows some light (but definite) analog noise, film grain, and digital artifacting. It's widescreen, without the benefits of a 16x9, anamorphic transfer. The Dolby Digital sound is about even with the video quality. It's nothing special, but it does its job. Extras include an animated menu screen with music from the film, cast and crew info, and a trailer. Kickboxer isn't going to win any awards, either as a movie or a DVD, but for Van-fans, it's worth a look.

Cyborg

Take equal parts from the Mad Max series, throw in some Escape From New York, and then pull away everything that made those movies even remotely energetic and cool, and you pretty much have Cyborg. Set in a post-apocalyptic future laid to waste by a strange disease (aren't they all), a beautiful cyborg must reach Atlanta with the knowledge in her memory banks intact (a cure that will save humanity). Of course, certain nasties (in bad chain-and-spandex outfits) like the world just the way it is, and plan to destroy the cyborg when they get their scummy hands on her. Too bad for them, Jean-Claude Van Damme is her protector.

As movie-watchers, we get nothing that we haven't already seen before. The sets are found, the matte paintings look goofy, and if you thought Van Damme couldn't act in movies like Knock Off or Legionnaire, just wait until you get a load of this. He's baaaaaad. Wow, he's bad. This wants so hard to be a cult classic, but it's just stupid. It's so stupid that all the character names are taken from electric-based musical instruments. Van Damme is Gibson, the baddie is Fender, and others include Prophet, Roland, and Marshall Strat for chrissakes. And as a movie-reviewer, I'm checking out on that note, baby.

Cyborg has an average transfer, for those who care. There's a bit of noise and grain, but nothing that will keep you from enjoying the movie. Both the widescreen and full frame transfers are here on one side, and both look digitally noisy (the FF more so, because of the blow up). And the widescreen version would have benefitted greatly from the anamorphic transfer that's NOT included here. The Dolby Digital sound is solid, and the extras include the film's trailer. And that's all I have to say on that.

Black Eagle

This really isn't a Van Damme film, but for the completists out there, here it is. Van Damme plays a Russian villain, up against Shô Kosugi. Kosugi plays Ken Tami, the CIA's best agent. Tami is trying to salvage a crashed F-100 aircraft (which is outfitted with a super high-tech laser guidance system, that could be used for evil) off the coast of Malta. Mostly, this is a kid-friendly action yarn, complete with Tami's two sons (played by Kosugi's own real life sons), who accompany him on the mission.

For those looking for their Van Damme fix, this is much more Kosugi's film than it is Van Damme's. Van Damme gets a few chances to kick, and stand around being all threatening, but he's killed off too quickly for Van Damme fans to be happy. Black Eagle isn't a very good film anyway, and you'd be better off without this flick in your library.

The reason for my warning you away from the film, isn't based solely on the quality of the film. I'm more concerned about the quality of the disc. This is a pretty bad (and noisy) transfer, most likely taken from an analog master, made for a previous VHS video release. The trailer looks horrid, and even though the movie picture is a bit better, it still looks noisy. The box also claims there is a "making of" documentary, but I couldn't find it anywhere.

Other problems with this, are that the sound is a flat, lifeless-sounding stereo, and the transfer is full frame (although it looks like it was shot that way, for a straight to TV or video release). If at all possible, stay away from this DVD. If you already own it, or have even seen it, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, trust me -- avoid at all costs.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com


Jean-Claude Van Damme on DVD


KICKBOXER IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT.

Cyborg


Black Eagle


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