Sep 13, 2019
Just two more episodes left before the break! Tomorrow we’ll close out the cycle with One Movie Spouse, but today we’ll have a Fantastic Fest feature from Andrew Campbell, who is currently wading through all the PR goodness from this year’s Fantastic Fest. For a few other reviews from Andrew, check out “The Wind” (Episode #572), “Holiday” (Episode #579), and “An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn” (Episode #586). And hopefully we’ll get a taste of what’s in store from Fantastic Fest this year!
Before the review, we’ll have a promo from the Ocho Duro Parlay Hour. They’ve been giving us mad love on social media the past week, and we wanted to return the favor. Check out their recent episodes discussing the NFL, UFC 242, the incredible hype surrounding “Joker”, and more mutant news! You can find them on Twitter and Instagram @ODParlayHour and on Facebook @ochoduroparlayhour. Warning: Massive amounts of awesome content.
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Here we go!
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Hello film fans!
Andrew here - back this week with an undemanding crime tale that goes down nice and smooth. But before we get into today’s film, I wanted to share some exciting news. Well, exciting for me at least. I was just welcomed as a member of the Austin Film Critics Association here, of course, in Austin, TX. The two other members accepted for 2019 are Rob Dean, a Rotten Tomatometer-approved critic who has written for a number of websites, and Lindsey Romain from Nerdist who I have enjoyed as a recurring guest on the /Filmcast podcast. So while I’m certain my inclusion was the result of a clerical error, I am grateful for the opportunity and humbled to be a part of such an esteemed group. Thanks to our host, Joseph Dobzynski, for providing so much support and to our growing audience of supportive listeners. (No tears, Andrew)
Today’s movie is “The Bouncer”, a French/Belgian action noir film written by Jérémie Guez and directed by Julien Lcclercq. “The Bouncer” stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as Lukas, an aging bouncer who manages to crack a smile exactly once in this picture, a trait likely shared with a small army of past JCVD characters. Lukas spends his nights managing the drunks at a deafening techno club that no one over the age of 30 should have to endure. By day, Lukas is a devoted single father, struggling to keep up with tuition for his 10-year-old daughter. After a violent incident prompts a change of employers, the new management sees the potential in Lukas, and he is soon enlisted in a criminal enterprise where he is caught in the middle and must protect his daughter.
If that plot sounds familiar, it’s because we have seen this story play out in a number of movies. If you want a grizzled tough guy with a golden heart protecting a young lady, you can throw on “Man on Fire”, “Taken”, or “Leon: The Professional”. For a film like this to gain traction, it would require some sort of memorable hook to differentiate it from the pack. While it doesn’t pull that off, there are a few interesting takes that may earn director Leclercq some future work.
The film opens with an extended take of Lukas snaking through the passageways of a labyrinthine club, camera squarely following over his shoulders. Later in the film when Lukas is tasked to perform what’s essentially an abduction of a drug manufacturer, the device is used again to a strong effect as he fights through some baddies along the way.
Another great scene is the “interview” for his new gig where he walks into a room with the other candidates where they are nonchalantly informed that the last man standing gets the job. It feels awesome and absurd at the same time, although as Lukas’s work requirements continue to grow, the purpose of this “Royal Rumble” feels more logical in retrospect.
What makes “The Bouncer” fantastic?When you put Van Damme into a film that is actually fairly well written, the audience is asked to judge it not just on its own merits, but against the expectations of a Van Damme film. Aside from the critically-acclaimed 2008 meta-film entitled “JCVD” kinda, sorta based on his own life, the last 20 years for Van Damme has largely consisted of “Universal Soldier” and “Kickboxer” installments sprinkled amidst other direct-to-VOD fare. As a nearly 60-year-old action star, “The Bouncer” is a pretty solid age-appropriate use of his talents. There are a couple minor twists and turns along the way, though the denouement falls a little flat as Lukas and the supporting characters aren’t compelling enough to invest the viewer.
“The Bouncer” is a straightforward crime tale free of nuance, located a couple rungs above Van Damme’s straight-to-DVD fare of the 90’s and 00’s. Fans of modern work from aging action stars such as “JCVD”, “Rocky Balboa”, or every Liam Neeson movie from the last decade, may enjoy this film.
Rotten Tomatoes: 80% (5 Reviews)
One Movie Punch: 6.2/10
“The Bouncer” (2018) is rated Rand is currently available as a 99-cent rental on Prime, YouTube, and Google Play.
Alright, that’s all you’ll hear from me for a bit as we hit our two-week hiatus just in time for Fantastic Fest 2019. I’ll be swinging around those press credentials starting Thursday for 8 glorious days. If you happen to be attending the festival, come by and say hello. If not, you can follow my coverage on Twitter @anrcampbell. I will be popping in a couple times during the October Reign of Terror to check in and we’ll get back to regular business in November. See you soon.