Jean-Claude Van Damme's career imploded when he was exposed by his bodyguard for being nothing more than a pliant, glorified stuntman. Stories of his inefficacy hit the tabloid market with a frenzy and his film career appeared to stumble for many years. Since vanishing into relative obscurity after a healthy career as a Stallone-esque action star, Van Damme makes the annual appearance or two in martial arts themed pictures. Starring alongside Cung Le as a sage mentor is a role that suits him like a warm blanket on a cold winter's night. Van Damme's acting ability has never been called into question but in the age of the Jet Li's, Jackie Chan's and Tony Jaa's, his martial arts skilled are always under scrutiny. No matter, with a limited role as a trainer (Tiano), our action hero is forgotten no more.
Tiano helped a broken criminal (Mr. Hong) overcome his demoralizing demons. Mr. Hong, in the heat of the moment, accidentally pushed a woman to her death. While serving a prison sentence his cellmate teachers him how to dedicate his life to something pure and humanitarian. Tiano teaches Mr. Hong self-reliance, martial arts, to become stronger, and to always face his demons standing tall. Once he is released from prison, Mr. Hong finds his way to St. Jude where he begins protecting the town's people, but most especially the lovely Rosanna (Crystal Montecon) and her concerned father.
When Hong is revealed to the power brokers behind-the-scenes, the gang leader (who coincidentally doubles as the police chief) Mr. V. (Peter Weller) offers him the opportunity to clean up St. Jude in exchange for being a regulator of crime and the drug-dealing market. Mr. V.'s newfound enthusiasm for Hong disturbs rival gang leaders that are tattooed and drugged-out from toe to head. Even worse, pimps and drug dealers from neighboring towns sense St. Jude's weakness and an all-out-war erupts.
In Dragon Eyes, Cung Le comes across as a cogent martial arts action star. His character Mr. Hong is straight out of the 80s with a 2012 twist for violent content and drug abuse. JCVD (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is splendid but I would have enjoyed more scenes with him as a major factor. Crystal Montecon plays a sympathetic damsel in distress well enough to earn future roles. Overall, Dragon Eyes is the kind of movie worth watching when good people feel downtrodden because of the creeps, bullies and morons impacting their lives. It is a colorful movie about vengeance and redemption. Two bloody fists held high folks!
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