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In China to donate his kidney to his dying niece, former black-ops agent Deacon awakes the day before the operation to find he is the latest victim of organ theft. Stitched up and pissed-off, Deacon descends from his opulent hotel in search of his stolen kidney and carves a blood-soaked path through the darkest corners of the city. The clock is ticking for his niece and with each step he loses blood.

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Pound of Flesh movie full length review - Contrived and ludicrous, with not enough Damme action

Reteaming with his ASSASSINATION GAMES and 6 BULLETS director Ernie Barbarash, Jean-Claude Van Damme stars as an ex-Special Forces badass who is planning to donate one of his kidneys to his dying niece.

However, after a night of partying he wakes up in his hotel to find out he's become the victim of organ theft and he sets himself on a path of revenge to get it back. Say what you will about the quality of films that go direct-to-DVD, but it should be commended that they manage to sneak in social issue commentary from time to time. The premise for this film is actually an intriguing one, but to my disappointment the execution of said premise was trite at best, ludicrous at worst. It should also be said that one doesn't usually go into Van Damme films expecting great acting, but aside from Van Damme, who has actually gotten better with age, the entire cast sucked at delivering even the simplest exposition. Despite this type of film usually being an excuse to string together a bunch of fight scenes, they actually tried to make a story that you would care about. I mean, who wouldn't root for a guy to reclaim his kidney so that his young niece would survive? That's just one example of the cheap emotional theatrics that this sorry excuse for a film resorts to in order to gain audience sympathy. Seeing as how they expected you to take this story seriously, one would expect some logic in the plot, but alas there was little to be found. Characters weave in and out of the story as needed, basically showing up to say their lines and deliver some piece of information that the main cast needs. I could go on, but I'd be here all day. I also found the film lacking from a technical standpoint. Since it was probably filmed on digital video, every scene that isn't stock/time-lapse footage had this cheap, soap opera look. The only time that this really worked was in some early flashback scenes that were de-saturated to the point of being black and white. With some selective color flourishes, it had a "Sin City" vibe that I kind of liked. So, you might ask, how was the action, since that's what most Van Damme fans will probably care most about? I have to say, it was decent. I just wish there had been more of it. Unfortunately, the film is very front-loaded in this respect. There's a club scene early on, part of which is in the trailer, where Deacon (Van Damme) literally beats up some people with a Bible. This is probably the best fight in the movie, and Van Damme doesn't really get another good one until the end when he faces off against Darren Shahlavi's villainous Drake (for the second time, actually). Between then, it's just a lot of exposition interrupted by some relatively uninteresting gunplay. Generally speaking, the action was well-filmed and choreographed, but there wasn't enough of it, in my opinion. Smaller issues that took me out of the film were that even though this was supposed to take place in the Philippines, it was quite obvious that, apart from a couple of establishing shots, this was mostly filmed in China, as all of the signs were in Chinese. There was also some dodgy green-screen work and CGI blood, which is partially understandable, given the low budget. When it comes down to it, this probably one of the worst latter-day Van Damme movies I've ever seen. The whole thing feels cheap and low-rent, and the narrative conveniences pile up to such a degree that it feels ridiculous. Pretty much the entire cast can't act, making this painful to watch. If you want a good, recent Van Damme movie then check out JCVD, or the other two Ernie Barbarash collaborations. POUND OF FLESH isn't worth your time or money.