Jean Claude Van Damme was the perfect unknowning joke of the eighties action hero. Stuck with an inability to act, and a thick accent, he also lacked the charm of another eighties hero who had the same limitations. Van Damme was the perfect storm of the eighties, a bad mish mashed monster of Ahnold and Seagal with the world's worst signature. Ahnold at least had a pithy line he'd sneak into his movies. Van Damme's signature was the ability to do the perfect splits. Yeah, that would fill me with pants wetting terror if I was some pony tail wearing eighties terrorist. "Looky there," I would say, "there's a man with no fear of being kicked in the balls."
Time has been no kinder to Van Damme than the critics. He might have had craggy good looks but they have eroded badly like a sea cliff. Luckily, or perhaps cunningly, Van Damme has found a picture that is perfect for him. In "The Assassination Game," he plays an alienated hitman who lives in the world's greatest secret apartment. He lives an alternate lifestyle where facial expressions are not required. On the other end of the spectruum is a young passionate hitman. He's not in the game anymore, but gets back in when the man who raped his wife is released by the authorities. Some of these authorities are corrupt interpol agents who lost a lot of money to the hip hitman and are hoping to draw him out.
All three forces converge at the same time. The results are a complete snafu. Van Damme manages to kill the scumwad's brother instead of his target. The Hip hitman almost shoots Van Damme in the head and is himself shot in the arm by the corrupt interpol agents. Obviously, this is not going to work as is so Hip hitman and Van Damme decide to work together even though they really don't trust each other.
Meanwhile, at the secret apartment, Van Damme gets a new neighbor. Some low level punk and drug dealer who is busy abusing his girlfriend. Van Damme would rather play the violin but eventually gets drawn into the drama. Can the girl open Van Damme's heart? Well she gets his turtle to poke out its head, and no that's not sexual metaphor.
The rest of the movie plays out between these two stories and it's no surprise that eventually Van Damme decides to join the human race after a fashion. As he says, "If you don't love anything, can you say you ever lived?" A nice sentiment from a film about blowing bigger holes in people, but I like it. The action was decent, Van Damme for once was well used (you can't say acting and Van Damme in the same sentence [oh wait I just did...oh well]), and it had the sweetest secret apartment ever. I'm getting one of those!