Assassination Games (2011): The Bugg and JCVD Dodge a Bullet

I had so much more planned for Action April. I really did, but instead my body decided to take action against me. So this week you're gonna get this review and one more, 2, count them, 2 Hauer You Doin'? action treats to anround out the week. I know it sounds like lofty goals, but I’m just the Bugg for the job. So what's been happening to me, well, the title of today's film is Assassination Games, and over the last week my body tried to assassinate me.... At least it felt like it. It seems the ever lovin' blue eyed Bugg had gone and got himself a pair of matching kidney stones. Those wee buggers, a.k.a 4mm of the worst pair you'd ever want in your life, brought me to my knees, and while I watched a good many movies through the pain killer induced haze, I didn't think my thoughts on them would be particularly cogent. Or less cogent than normal I should say. At any rate, I'm all healed up, and nothing gets me back into the action like a little JCVD.

Keep reading or I will make you eat Brussels Sprouts
from Muscles Shoals
The post JCVD Jean-Claude Van Damme unfortunately did not suddenly become an actor making toney choices and doing bit parts on Downton Abby. Instead, he went back to doing what he's done for the last 25 years, namely, kicking ass. After rebooting Universal Soldier, going up The Eagle Path, and voicing a crocodile martial arts master in Kung Fu Panda, he might just have stumbled into a film that brought story, action, and heart all together around Jean Claude's elegantly lined face. Assassination Games stars Van Damme as Vincent Brazil, an assassin who will take any work as long as it pays his fee, 50 grand in South African diamonds. British actor Scott Adkins, looking like a buffer version of Matthew Fox, co-stars as rival assassin Roland Flint. Only where Vincent wants the money, Flint is out for revenge.

I'm gonna shoot the crap out of those
numbers if you bother me with them again Hurley.
The pair comes to odds over one target, Polo (Ivan Kaye). Some crooked INTERPOL cops (Does anyone know what INTERPOL does beside bring tons of different law enforcement accents under one roof in the movies?) hire Vincent to off Polo while Flint gets word of the gangsters release from jail. Flint, who wants revenge on Polo for putting his wife in a coma, messes up Vincent's hit attempt and instead Polo's brother is killed. Now Polo is after the man who killed his brother while the assassins play cat and mouse trying to kill him. Soon enough the skeezy INTERPOL guys want everyone dead, and they align with Polo to kill both men. I'm sure future double and triple crosses ensue, but there's got to be some surprises.

Is he covering her up or checking out her ass?
You decide. 
The biggest surprise is that even for a movie about a couple of hired killers there's actually a ton of heart in his picture. Who among us would not want to tack down and kill the man who raped our wife/husband and put them in a coma? If you say you wouldn't, then you're lying. Or perhaps the person you're married to should be more concerned, but I digress. While Adkins' Flint is the film's 'B' story, it makes for an emotional counterpoint to Van Damme's steely brooding. Originally, Adkins part was to be played by Vinnie Jones (Snatch, Midnight Meat Train), but the actor dropped out before shooting. While Adkins was a tad too pretty boy for my action star taste, Jones would have changed the movie's tone considerably. When Jean-Claude is not fighting or scowling, he's making emotional headway thanks to hooker with a heart of gold, October (Marija Karan, The Rite). Well, he learns how to pet a turtle.... And how not to be a total dick.

Nothing brings dudes together like
When JCVD was young, his over the top performances in films like Bloodsport and Kickboxer are fun to watch because the heavily accented actor was fumbling his way into becoming an action star. Now, on the other end of his career, his craggy, line-worn face reads like the superstardom that has faded, but it also means that Van Damme can play characters that are a little more introspective, and silent moments where the viewer must read the actor's expression are among the film's strongest. Director Ernie Barbarash, who took over when Highlander director Russell Mulcahy dropped out, doesn't have a good track record as director or producer with films such as Cube Zero, The First Nine and a Half Weeks, and American Psycho..... 2, the one with Mila Kunis and Shatner to his credit. However Barbarash hit loan dirt here. (I can’t give him pay dirt; it's still not all that.) Assassination Games starts off with an action sequence, and then it keeps a nice pace throughout while remembering to take time and make the two killers something more than cutout characters.

"I am Jean Claude's cousin Jon Clod Van-Damme. My
sideburns are made of Chia. Do you have any chips?"
That's not to say that the film doesn't have its flaws. It is rife with plot holes, and the foreshadowing is handled about as gently as JCVD starts off petting that turtle. The double crosses only serve to confuse for the most part and never drive the story anywhere other than the expected and slightly anticlimactic ending. Thankfully the performances of the lead actors, as well as Ivan Kaye as the nefarious Polo, bring the film up a notch. The well shot action sequences, the appearance of some striking gore, and several deadly one liners slipping from the lips of the Muscles from Brussels all serve to bring the film up to the level of many of Van Damme's earlier features. That being said, "It's better than Legionnaire." and "Almost as good as Sudden Death" don't look good on a poster. Assassination Games is the kind of film that you've just got to take a chance in checking out..... if you’re got the stones for it, and as you all now know, I've got plenty to spare.

Bug Rating


  1. Ive been eyeing this one for awhile, now. Sammy mentioned it on GGTMC and now here you are, talking it up. Going to have to give it a shot, just because I love Adkins.

  2. I've seen this movie and it's one of the best of Jean-clude ever, recommend it to all.


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