02nd Aug2014

‘Enemies Closer’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Tom Everett Scott, Orlando Jones, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Linzey Cocker, Christopher Robbie, Zahary Baharov, Dimo Alexiev, Kristopher Van Varenberg | Written by Eric Bromberg, James Bromberg | Directed by Peter Hyams

ENEMIES_CLOSER_BD_2D

After a major shipment of drugs goes missing on the US-Canadian border, forest ranger and former Navy SEAL Henry (Everett Scott) is plunged into survival mode when the drug cartel, led by the ruthless killer Xander (Van Damme), forces him to help retrieve the downed package. Trapped in the wilderness with no communication to the outside world, Henry finds himself face to face with Clay (Jones), a man with a personal vendetta against Henry who has returned for retribution. Now, the two mortal enemies must make a choice: put aside their past and work together, or die alone at the hands of Xander and his ruthless gang who will stop at nothing to retrieve their lost cargo.

Another film in the After Dark Action series (the action-orientated cousin of the more well known After Dark Horrorfest strand of movies), Enemies Closer is another rare outing for Van Damme the villain following his star turn in The Expendables 2, appearing on top form as the brilliantly eccentric (and I do mean eccentric – his performance borders on insanity) drug smuggler Xander. Interestingly the all-action hero of this film is actually Tom Everett Scott, who rose to fame in the Tom Hanks directed That Thing You Do and whom I remember from the hilarious college comedy Dead Man on Campus. More recently Scott has been carving out a niche in rom-coms and on TV in a number of cop shows and dramas but director Hyams lets Scott exercise his action movie legs as the park ranger unwittingly thrown into the middle of not only Van Damme’s search for a lost heroin shipment but also Orlando Jones’ vengeful quest for revenge too.

I don’t think Van Damme has seemingly relished an evil role so much since going face to face with Sho Kosugi in Black Eagle. Here he eats up the screen, using every trick in his never-ending martial arts skills handbook to kick, punch, stab and shoot his way through the entire cast – be they part of his crew, or the films heroes! And it’s not just Van Damme playing bad guy. Once again Van Damme stars alongside Van Damme as Kristopher Van Varenberg, aka Kris Van Damme, stars with his father as part of the heroin-hunting crew, making quiet an impact as Francois, literally, as he pounds his way through the cast.

A step up from Welcome to the Jungle, which bizarrely hits DVD here in the UK after this film makes its debut, Enemies Closer is in no way on a par with the previous Hyams/Van Damme collaborations, Sudden Death and TimeCop, but it’s still a great example of modern Van Damme at his best. Here’s hoping he can keep up the quality for his next direct-to-DVD outings.

Enemies Closer is out now on DVD from Anchor Bay.

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