Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

We can do this one in just a few words. Do you like to watch really big dudes beat the snot out of each other? Do you think you might like that? Did you watch a movie say like ‘Enter the Dragon’ and wish that Bruce Lee, John Saxon and Jim Kelly would shut the hell up and just punch each in the face really hard over and over again? If someone asks you anything about movies and you immediately answer with, to whatever that question was… ‘Tyler Durden’? Did you find ‘Bloodsport’ too much of an intellectual challenge? If so we just might have the movie for you. I know it’s the movie for me and that movie is my main man Stone Cold Steve Austin in ‘Damage’.

Out in four and a half of a seven year term is John Brickner (Austin). Apparently he killed a man and if we know anything about the justice system in a movie like this, that cat must have deserved to die if Brickner only got seven years and then was paroled early for this murder. Nonetheless this murder haunts Brickner who is off to Seattle to get his life together. First thing Brickner has to do is get a job and this introduces him to the WORLD’S WORST BOSS who treats this 6’3" 250 pound muscle bound fool like total crap. Next time we see Brickner he’s chilling at the bar. Now I’m thinking that a parolee might want to stay out establishments that are fueled by alcohol, but who the hell am I? Anyway we see some yuppie thugs harassing Frankie (Laura Vandervoort), the pretty waitress at this joint who’s ‘ass is a wonderland’ which gets the yuppie thug leader choked, abused and rudely dismissed by our parolee. Now Brickner has two gigs, with one of these gigs sounding an awful lot like a parole violation to me.

This gig will introduce Brickner to Frankie’s slick, underhanded, no account significant other Reno (Walter Goggins). We really don’t know what Frankie and Reno’s relationship is as they seem to be brotherly and sisterly more or less, but not really. Reno wants Brickner to participate in this underground fighting thing, but Brickner isn’t the least beat interested, that is until the wife of the man he killed came about whining how she needs 250 large for her daughter’s heart transplant. Seven bucks an hour and tips as a bouncer isn’t get to get one that kind of cheddar, and with this shrew constantly reminding Brickner ‘YOU OWE ME!!!’, it’s time for some rule free cage fighting.

And fight they do. The fights are long, hard, tough and brutal. No weapons are allowed, unless of course someone throws one in the ring, then weapons are allowed. While Brickner is a helluva fighter, almost everybody he goes against pushes him to the limits of his ability, but this little girl is dying and he needs money to buy into the Big Fight. Then there are these people in Reno and Frankie who he’s really become fond of, to the point that he’s even contemplating paying off one of Reno’s huge debts to The Smoking Man, but if he does this then the little girl dies. Dilemma. What could possibly be the solution to this dilemma? If you said ‘punching somebody in the face’, then you are ready to experience the controlled nonsense that is ‘Damage’.

I am not ashamed to say that I mightily enjoyed this movie. Of course this doesn’t mean that you will, but I sure did. There’s no particular reason why because this isn’t the most original tale around and when the sick little girl holds up her tattered Teddy Bear and creaked out ‘this is my friend’ I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit, but there are a lot of things to like about this movie. For starters you have Stone Cold who dusts off a character similar to the one in the last movie of his we saw in ‘Condemned’, playing a convict no less, but this one kept things much simpler. Stone Cold’s main talent as an actor is being big, mean and ugly, and to that end they lobbed one in his wheelhouse and he knocked it out the park. Laura Vandervoort is very attractive, even more so as brunette in this movie as opposed to a blonde as she has played in those other movies I’ve seen her in and Walter Goggins was appropriately scummy, yet scummy with a heart of gold.

But of course it is the fight sequences that dominate this film and make this film worth seeing, not necessarily Stone Cold’s ability, or lack thereof, to emote. The fight sequences are well choreographed, except for a few missed punches here and there and director Jeff King makes the fights look very authentic and as we said before they are long and brutal.

Sure it gets a little silly at times and it is unbelievable most of the time considering one bare knuckled punch to the face by guys as large as these dudes would probably result in all kinds of permanent brain damage, then you will also have to buy into Stone Cold Steve Austin as a conduit to young people in love, think Cupid, which may also be a bit of a challenge for some of us, but we totally brought into it. Unless someone is walking into this movie expecting ‘The Iliad’ or something along those lines then ‘Damage’ pretty much delivers what I think it was hoping to deliver to an audience.

I was kidding earlier because the truth is ‘Damage’ is way more intellectually challenging than ‘Bloodsport’.

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