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'The Hard Corps'
(Jean-Claude Van Damme, Vivica A. Fox, et al / DVD / NR / 2006 / Sony Pictures)

Overview: Jean-Claude plays a Combat Vet who's just spent the last 3 years fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, who is hired to be a bodyguard to a former World Heavyweight Boxing champ to protect him and his family against a Rap Music Mogul. He sets up a team called "The Hard Corps", complications arise when the boxer suspects that his sister may be in love with the bodyguard.

DVD Verdict: 'The Hard Corps' is pretty much a by the numbers affair. While Jean-Claude does a pretty decent job of playing the tortured veteran of a war that he know questions, the script doesn't give him much to work with. Much of the running time is spent following the bad guys, and while we obviously need to understand how diabolical this evil rap guy is, there's a little too much screen time afforded him. Do we need to see him partying it up with big-booty dancing girls? Once, maybe. But that'd be it. The film is obviously trying to market itself to the hip hop community which is all well and good but it doesn't do a good job of it and rather than come off as a good action movie or a good hip hop or street gangster movie it instead comes off as a half assed hybrid of the two genres. Vivica A. Fox is fun to look at during the almost two hour running time of the film and she does a decent enough job as the smart and sexy sister of the big time boxer. You can believe that she cares around her brother and therefore you can understand her concern, though the way that she goes about setting up the security team is a little unrealistic. Of course, you know from the start that she and Jean-Claude are going to fall for one another and the script delivers as hokey and corny an ending as you'd expect it to without spoiling it, let it suffice to say that you will know very early on where it's going. These types of complaints are part and parcel with the low budget action genre and if the movie delivers the goods in terms of the shoot outs and the fights and the car chases it's easy enough to overlook them. Does The Hard Corps at least do that? To an extent, yes. The first shoot out scene is done quite well and it is a pretty suspenseful set piece. There's also a great scene where Phillip and Wayne get in the ring together that not only provides some heavy hitting and powerful punches but also effectively builds their characters. These moments do shine through and it is for these moments and the reasonably exciting, if utterly predictable, finale that makes this movie worth a look. It isn't on par with better recent Van Damme fare such as In Hell or Wake Of Death but his fans should enjoy it none the less even if it won't likely win him any new ones. The Hard Corps comes straight to video in a nice 1.78.1 widescreen transfer that is free of print damage and mpeg compression problems but which does exhibit some aliasing in a few scenes that give the movie a slightly shimmering look that does prove a little distracting. Aside from a static menu and a chapter selection option, the only extra features on this release come in the form of the half a dozen trailers for other straight to video action films that Sony currently has available on DVD. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of six Trailers.