Black Eagle (1988)
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The story is plain stupid and could probably be resolved in real life through simple diplomacy or a quick Navy Seals operation. But of course this is one-man operation and boring it is...
Set against the background off Malta only one men can take on a ship full of evil Russians while entertaining his kids on vacation (and I'm not making that up). What surprises me about the man that goes by the codename of Black Eagle is how 1-dimensional his character is considering he has the most screen time and they tried to flesh him out by having his kids around. he stays bland, but then again he has no charisma at all...
Then Van Damme, here having about half the amount of lines Ah-nold had in Terminator he comes off as a baddie we all like. He gets more physics to display, he gets the cool moves, he even is more fleshed out (physical and character-wise) then the good guy. At the end I was just hoping Van Damme would knock his lights out.
Unless you're watching a horror film (allthough this movie is a horror to watch) you're not supposed to root for the bad guy. But I was. I'm thinking they re-shot scenes making van Damme's character more likable after the success of Bloodsport, but it messes the movie up even more....
And I'm no expert in martial arts movies, so I can't review Sho Kosugi and Jean-Claude Van Damme fighting performances in this flick.
But I nevertheless find it to be an entertaining and refreshing movie because:
a) It is slow-paced compared to movies churned out by Hollywood nowadays. I can't stand shaky cam photography nor "frantic" editing. I find 1980s pop-corn flicks quite relaxing.
b) It is full of nice sights of Malta, a location you very rarely see in motion pictures. Its fortifications, distinctive architecture, sunny beaches, beautiful landscapes... It's quite refreshing to enjoy the beauties of an oft-overlooked location in movie-making. Malta is the real star of this picture.
c) Doran Clark. She's a beautiful woman and quite convincing as the CIA agent "babysitting" the two kids. Why we haven't seen her in more movies is beyond me.
All in all, this flick is a guilty pleasure, but for good reasons.
Van Damme plays Andrei, a tough KGB trained guy - who for some reason works on a Russian trawler and performs splits at will and karate katas for the amusement or bemusement of the trawler workers.
Kogushi hams up his role as the American 007 equipped with ninja like weaponary and a tux to boot. For some odd reason, he thinks its a good idea to take his kids to Malta as well - naturally they are kidnapped.
The fight sequences between Van Damme and Kogusi are sparse and lighthearted attempts at the "warrior code" - Kogusi smiles at Damme, and Damme smiles back whilst performing a split - which bemuses Kogusi - he doesn't know how to fight back against a guy who does the splits.
In a hilariousily bad and cop-out ending, Anderei (Van Damme) is killed by being thrown overboard and pulled into the Trawler's water blades...oh dear, what an opportunity lost.