Enemies Closer Blu-ray Review

Jean-Claude Van Damme refuses to stop. Never mind that the majority of his most recent movies aren’t getting major theatrical runs. Until the day he throws in the towel, you’ll see his face on video store shelves.

His most recent is ENEMIES CLOSER (as in, “Keep your friends close, but your…”), one of four of his movies set to be released in 2014. (He had even more than that out in 2012.) In it, he is Xander, who you might assume is a mercenary or a martial artist but actually is a dangerous drug kingpin. Early on, a major shipment of drugs gets lost somewhere along the U.S.-Canadian border and, well, Xander isn’t happy about it.

Jean-Claude Van Damme in Enemies Closer

He and his team’s hunt for the stash leads them to the isolated King’s Island, which is looked after by Henry (Tom Everett Scott, who will be appearing in The CW’s upcoming take on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST), a forest ranger who would probably get picked on by squirrels on a daily basis if he wasn’t a former Navy SEAL. Also on the island is Clay (Orlando Jones, SECONDS APART), who has a personal vendetta against Henry that will have to be put aside if they’re going to fend off Xander and company.

Enemies Closer

ENEMIES CLOSER is directed by Peter Hyams, who previously directed Van Damme in 1994’s TIMECOP and 1995’s SUDDEN IMPACT and whose other credits include 1986’s RUNNING SCARED, 1999’s END OF DAYS and 2009’s BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT. As lame-brained as the plot is, Hyams at least tries to keep it moving. ENEMIES CLOSER clocks in at a brisk 84 minutes, which is just the right amount of time for a movie like this.

Still, there are a number of poorly constructed scenes with such awful writing and acting (namely those with Henry and Clay wandering around the woods in the dark) that it seems to take much longer than those 84 minutes to reach the end credits.

Orlando Jones in Enemies Closer

The biggest issue with ENEMIES CLOSER is that Xander’s in-person encounters with the good guys are limited to the final twenty minutes. Audiences aren’t watching a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie to see him interact with a walkie-talkie—they want to see him kick butt, even if he is the bad guy (complete with a silly hairstyle). While Van Damme does get a few moments of said butt-kicking, he’s greatly limited compared to what viewers expect. And so fans will root for him to unleash a swift roundhouse kick to anyone’s head, even if it’s one of the good guys like Henry, which the screenplay (by brothers Eric and James Bromberg) spent so much time building as a stand-up fella.

Jean-Claude Van Damme in Enemies Closer

The audience—especially those seeking standard Van Damme fare—will likely be bored for much of the movie. One plus to the entire production is that it seems like the actors had some fun: Van Damme chews it up as the environmentally conscious baddie, Scott looks to be enjoying donning the uniform and Jones is probably just happy that we almost forgot he was a 7 Up spokesman.

ENEMIES CLOSER BLU-RAY REVIEW

Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. The video transfer of ENEMIES CLOSER is strong throughout and nicely presents the darker shades and tones that are present for the bulk of the movie.

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles in English and Spanish. The audio transfer is also quite good, especially in the action sequences when the sound effects and score get to show off.

Audio commentary with director Peter Hyams: Hyams gives a fine commentary, dishing out a number of production details that don’t get touched on in the below featurette.

A Closer Look: Making ENEMIES CLOSER (7:31): Hyams, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Tom Everett Scott and more sit down to discuss ENEMIES CLOSER.

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