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Saturday, 1 September 2018

Retro Review: The Hard Corps (2006)

The Hard Corps
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Vivica A. Fox, Razaaq Adoti, Peter Byrant, Viv Leacock
Genre: Action

Plot: An army veteran assembles a team of bodyguards to protect a former boxer. Complications arise when the boxer suspects his sister may be romantically involved with the bodyguard

'Seemingly Up There As One Of Van Damme's Worst'

The Hard Corps is what some people may call the Black version of The Bodyguard, only it is more action-orientated, feels more like a direct-to-DVD film, and still, it has the White guy in Jean-Claude Van Damme and the female Black love interest, Vivica A. Fox.

It also sees him reunite with Sheldon Lettich, whereby the pairing previously worked together on Legionnaire and Lionheart and Lettich had a hand in penning 1991's Double Impact, which I enjoyed. 

Phillipe Savage is an ex-Iraq soldier who is recovering from a traumatic incident whereby schoolchildren were massacred. He is hired by the sister of a boxer as a bodyguard to protect him from some thugs by a rap mogul he put in prison. 

The character of Terrell looks like a play on real-life rap mogul, Suge Knight of Death Row Records and it was reported that rapper DMX originally signed on to play Terrell. Though at the time, he was handed a prison sentence and the role went to Viv Leacock. The two noticeable stars are Jean-Claude Van Damme and Vivica A. Fox, with the latter not given much to say and do in her role.  

The wrinkled lines on Van Damme's face are ever so clear to see, as is the large lump on his forehead, which seems to be a heavy distraction and he looks so disinterested as his character. That, and he manages to kick the bad guys, 3 times. Throughout the entire film, and so for fans tuning into what they believe is a fight-fest will sadly be left with egg on their faces. The fight scenes were below-par, weak and lacked oomph and there isn't much in the way of martial arts, either as the action mostly involves brandishing firearms and guns. 

The Hard Corps is also noted as being one of the Muscles From Brussels less action-orientated offerings and is to Van Damme as Exit Wounds is to Steven Segal. Both Exit Wounds and The Hard Corps are poor movies IMO and they bear numerous similarities, but this one is even poorer with a more B-movie like feel, stand out performances (or lack thereof) and everything is so routine with not enough good action. & the story is not developed well with characters not fleshed out properly. Although being a straight-to-DVD, low-budget action flick, story development is the least of its priorities. Van Damme's acting performance is one-note and static and his character doesn't emote or display many emotions, as he looks bored. Physically, I also noticed that as he got older, he has lost a lot of his physique and muscle that he had in Kickboxer, Bloodsport, Double Impact, Hard Target and his earlier '90s movies.

Watching this one, it's evident that this was clearly marketed towards the hip-hop community and fans of gritty urban movies with its rap-based soundtrack, but there is very little substance, there is no focus in the story, whatsoever that by the end of it it just doesn't tie up so well and it doesn't attempt to offer anything new. The African-American villains are stereotypically portrayed as gangstas uttering the B-word, but otherwise, they have nothing much to show for it. It's like every action cliche and clique (but for chase sequences and explosions, which The Hard Corps could have done more of), and African-American colloquialisms and slang words were lifted from

I liked the scenes where the fighters/would-be bodyguards assemble together and Van Damme's Phillipe trains them: now if the movie was about Phillipe leading a team of bodyguards and it cut out all the boring and mundane crap and the boring story along with it with lots of good martial arts and action scenes thrown in, I'd find that more enjoyable. 

With a suggested budget of $12 million, this wasn't money well spent, rather money that went to waste and though it is set in the U.S, the film was actually filmed in Bucharest, Romania and Vancouver, Canada so to speak. 

Compared to his other successful contemporaries, since the mid-1990s Jean-Claude Van Damme's movies have been predictable in terms of what one might expect from him, but also the further the quality of the movies themselves have diminished as they go downhill. As a film, The Hard Corps is a stretch to behold one's attention and most of it was just tedious and a chore to endure. Sheldon Lettich made inroads with Bloodsport and Kickboxer, but along with Van Damme, he too has hit a brick wall. 

Funny that for a film titled The Hard Corps, it's far less about the Corps themselves and more about Van Damme and the other trivial and underdeveloped characters and the below-the-belt, tepid story.

& as for the Vivica A.Fox and Van Damme hooking up ending, it feels tacked on.

Final Verdict:

But alas, from what I've seen, it turns out that The Hard Corps is a weak effort, insofar as action films go with fewer-yet contrived fight scenes and at almost 2 hours, it doesn't go to greater lengths to be involving or engrossing. 

This is as throwaway and bad as any lacklustre, run-of-the-mill Steven Segal direct-to-video/DVD cheapie and just as - or make that even duller. 

I've seen plenty of Van Damme movies and sadly, this is another turd of his and 99% of it wasn't enjoyable for me.  But this one ranks alongside the terrible Streetfighter as bottom of the barrel stuff and one that fans of the Belgian action star can easily overlook and forget, completely. 


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