Mania Grade: C+
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- DVD: Damage
- Rating: R
- Starring: Steve Austin, Walton Goggins, Laura Vandervoort
- Written By: Frank Hannah
- Directed By: Jeff King
- Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Original Year of Release: 2010
- Extras: None
Damage DVD Review
Because Stone Cold Said So
By Tim Janson
March 27, 2010
In “Damage” former pro wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin stars as a John Brickner, recently paroled ex-con who served time for manslaughter. Damage rehashes just about every Jean Claude Van Damme film of the 80s and 90s, particularly “Lionheart” whose plot it lifts unabashedly. Brickner finds life tough going outside of prison, working construction for low pay and for a boss who constantly needles him about being an ex-con. His life becomes more complicated when the widow of the man he killed demands he help raise money to pay for a heart transplant for her daughter…$250,000!
Overcome with guilt and knowing that his construction job will hardly be enough for the costly procedure, Brickner takes a second job as a bouncer in a local bar. After tossing a couple of punks out of the bar one evening Brickner, is noticed by a small-time hustler and gambler name Reno (Walton Goggins of “The Shield”) and is soon introduced to the world of illegal, underground, bare-knuckle prizefighting as a way of earning the money. He moves in with Reno and his girlfriend Frankie (Laura Vandervoort of “V”) to begin training and learn the ropes of the brutal business. Like most of these types of “Rocky-esque” style films, Brickner soon meets the top man on the circuit and so know that the climax of the film will be a fight between the newcomer and the reigning champion. It’s predictable as hell but it’s mostly an entertaining ride getting there.
The fighting in Damage isn’t your typical MMA style but rather just two guys putting up their fists and pounding each other into submission. Austin is never going to win any Academy Awards but you have to give him credit. He is what he is…you won’t see him doing comedy and you won’t see him doing any romantic scenes. He knows his limitations and within that boundary, he is a lot of fun to watch. This is the type of role that he can play over and over without it getting old because Austin has that “every man” charisma. He’s a true, blue-collar action hero. The fight scenes don’t feature a lot of complicated choreography but they are well shot and Austin’s character receives almost as much damage as he gives out.
Goggins and Vandervoort provide an able support team to handle a lot of the in-between fight scenes. The cast also features Donnelly Rhodes (Dr. Cottle on Battlestar Galactica) as a fight promoter and William B. Davis (The “Smoking Man” from X-Files) as a wealthy investor.
The sub-plot of Brickner helping to raise money for the little girl’s operation was a bit much in terms of credibility although it added a sympathetic element and gave you a reason to cheer Brickner. What the film lacked was a strong villain. There’s simply not much conflict and when Austin does finally meet the champion it’s under whelming as Director Jeff King failed to give the fight much buildup… Rocky had his Apollo Creed…Van Damme has his “Atilla” in Lionheart…and Brickner has his, uhh…now what’s his name???
“Damage” is a forgettable, throwaway action film but there are worse ways to spend 90 minutes.