18th Apr2019

‘The Bouncer’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sami Bouajila, Sveva Alviti, Sam Louwyck, Kevin Janssens, Kaaris, Alice Verset | Written by Jérémie Guez | Directed by Julien Leclercq

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In The Bouncer, Jean-Claude Van Damme stars as Lukas, a tough nightclub bouncer struggling to raise his 8-year-old daughter. One day, Lukas loses control during an altercation with a client and ends up in jail, while his daughter is taken away from him. Things take an unexpected turn when Interpol recruits Lukas to bring down a Dutch ringleader operating from Belgium in exchange for his daughter’s custody.

You’ve got to hand it to Jean-Claude Van Damme. Unlike his contemporaries whochurn out action movies like its still the ’90s, making themselves look stupid in incompetent fight scenes and risible love scenes with younger co-stars, Van Damme has instead aged gracefully on-screen – embracing his age with roles that still require him to kick arse but also, thankfully, now stretch his acting chops.

And The Bouncer, aka Lukas, is one such movie. With Van Damme eschewing the one-liners of his early films like Bloodsport and Kickboxer and playing up the strong, silent, anti-hero type that Charles Bronson was oh-so good at playing in his later years. The plot is pretty basic but its enough to let Van Damme shine. And shine he does, his wizened appearance and sullen eyes, married with the well-written “father trying to do well by his daughter” character, gives Lukas a depth unseen in any other film the action superstar has ever appeared in. Ever.

Director Julien Leclercq has made a career out of gritty camerawork, gritty stories and gritty characters and he brings all his experience together here in a film that will, in a perfect world, mark a high point in his AND Van Damme’s career. But that’s not going to happen is it? Nope, The Bouncer is more than likely to be seen by hardcore Van Damme fans, like myself, who still support their action-movie idols by buying and watching everything they put out.

Of course the general DVD-buying public might snap this up from a supermarket shelf as they get their weekly shop purely based on nostalgia for Van Damme’s more famous work but I wouldn’t hesitate to guess they’d come out of The Bouncer feeling disappointed. After all this is a European crime drama, not a display of Van Damme’s kickboxing prowess. If it’s a display of anything, its a brilliant look at just how far Van Damme has come as an actor in his years in front of the camera; and hopefully we’ll see more films, and roles, like this for him in the future.

The Bouncer is available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download now from Dazzler Media.

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