25th Oct2019

‘The Quest’ Blu-ray Review (101 Films)

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Roger Moore, James Remar, Janet Gunn, Jack McGee, Aki Aleong, Abdel Qissi, Louis Mandylor | Written by Frank Dux, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steve Klein, Paul Mones | Directed by Jean-Claude Van Damme


Ah, 1996. The year that gave us Fargo, Scream, From Dusk till Dawn, The Craft and The Frighteners. It also gave us Daylight, with Stallone, Barb Wire with Pamela Anderson, Eraser with Arnie and… The Quest, with Jean-Claude Van Damme, who also directed it. The Quest. You remember this, right? I mean… at a time when action-stars were squeezing the last drops of sweat and tears from the action-movie genre that hit massive heights in the 80s, Van Damme joined them. He wrote, directed and, of course, starred in this movie, a movie that also starred Roger Moore. Yes, Roger Moore. James Bond. The Saint. Roger bloody Moore! I mean, Roger would say that The Quest was the worst movie he’d every appeared in, but still… he was still in it.

The thing is, though… The Quest, which was slammed, pile-driven, kung-fu kicked, berated, bludgeoned and battered by critics when it was released in 1996, isn’t actually THAT bad of a movie. I mean, it’s not great, it’s not even what I’d refer to as being especially “good”, but it’s not a bad movie. It has its moments, and it’s kinda fun. So, why was it panned? I mean, the writing, performances and overall story are pretty middle-of-the-road, but many other movies have been and didn’t get slapped across the throat as hard at this one was. Perhaps it’s the obvious similarities it shares with Van Damme’s 1988 martial arts flick Bloodsport? Anyhoo… perhaps we’ll see The Quest given a new lease of life now it’s been released on Blu-ray here in the UK, by 101 Films. It’s already a film with a cult-status, and I expect that will grow as time goes on. These sorts of B-grade and somewhat forgotten action flicks tend to find an audience eventually, be if for the humour and silliness that can be found within the film or because the audience actually enjoy the film, is another argument altogether.

The story itself follows Van Damme’s character, Christopher Dubois, who is a decent kind-hearted man who also happens to be a street criminal, and he ends up in a fighting tournament in South East Asia. I mean… who doesn’t go through this sort of thing once in a while? He’s rescued, after being imprisoned by smugglers and pirates, by a man named Lord Edgar Dobbs (Moore) but sadly… it’s all a ruse and Dubois is sold into slavery, where he’s trained as an elite fighter. That’s where the fighting tournament comes into play. I mean… there’s not much more to this. It’s basic action martial arts 101, a mixture of Bloodsport and a whole range of 90s action films that you saw once and then forgot about.

Sadly, that’s the issue here, it’s forgettable stuff, and while it can be entertaining and isn’t as bad as many people have said it is, it’s still not something I could quite see being a staple of someone’s viewing habits. It isn’t bad enough to be “so bad it’s good”, but not good enough to be memorable. It’s… just okay. The fight sequences are well done, and feels impactful, and is likely the strongest element of The Quest. Van Damme is exactly like you’d expect him to be, the same as he was in every other Jean-Claude Van Damme film you ever watched in the 80s and 90s. It looks pretty good too, and while Roger Moore seems to not quite want to be there (which makes sense considering his opinion of the film) and the overall performance level is lower than average, it’s entertaining and not a hard movie to sit and watch. It is fun.

The new Blu-ray release from 101 Films looks very good, retaining the necessary grain but still cleaned up nicely. I can’t say for sure, because I hadn’t seen this since the VHS in the 90s, but I’m betting this is the best The Quest has ever looked. The extras on the release feature an interview with actor Jack McGee, who talks about his experience during the filming of The Quest and working with Roger Moore, an interview with actor Mike Lambert, audio commentary with martian arts cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema, as well as the obligatory trailer and gallery. While it’s not a lot of extras, it’s enough to give a little extra to fans of The Quest, and the interviews offer insight, which is cool.

A cheesy martial-arts action flick from a decade that was packed with the corniest of cheese-ball action titles, The Quest is a worthy addition to a collection for those who like these dated, silly and forgotten action movies. It’s entertaining, though limited in terms of plot, writing and the acting, yet I still can’t rag on it too hard. A nice release from 101 of a film that, while isn’t essential 90s viewing, is a daft but breezy throwback.

The Quest comes out on Blu-ray from 101 Films on the 28th October 2019.


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