Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

There are bad movies, say like ‘Basic Instinct 2’, ‘Cobra’ or any number of those awful, awful things that come on late at night on Cinemax.  These are movies that you curse yourself for watching and realize that you are now two hours or so closer to death and you still haven’t done anything with your life.  Then there are other bad movies.  Sure these movies are bad, but you still found yourself having a damn good time despite the abject badness of it all.  ‘Demolition Man’ comes to mind, as does ‘Torque’ and ‘Rapid Fire’.  Coming dangerously close to that rarified bad but good air is Jean Claude Van Dammes latest ‘The Hard Corps’, a Direct-to-Video gem of a hip-hop action thriller.

Razaaq Adoti is heavy weight champion Wayne Barclay, A good guy who does positive things like build low income homes for the poor and sneaks around to have sex with slutty white women.  Five years ago, for reasons briefly explained later in the film, Wayne testifies against Rap Mogul Terrell Singletary (Viv Leacock) and puts him away for 10 years or so.  You know Terrell is a gangster Suge Knight style because he holds his gun sideways and has pit bulls for pets.  Terrell is being let out of the clink early for good behavior, and revenge on his mind and an Escalade full of hurtin’ to execute it.

Wayne’s sister Tamara (Vivica A. Fox), who is the CEO of Wayne’s organization, knows trouble is a brewing and hires ex-army commando Kendall Mullins (Peter Bryant) to provide some low key protection.  Mullins needs somebody to have his

back on this mission so he goes to the VA hospital where his good friend Sgt. Phillip Suavage (Van Damme) is recovering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome after doing a little bit too much killing in Iraq.  When one is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress syndrome, what’s the best cure?  Why pulling him out of the hospital, putting a large loaded automatic weapon in his hands and turning him loose on a bunch of renegade hip hoppers of course.

As rotten luck would have it (as if we didn’t know this already), Mullins gets killed during one Terrell’s attacks and that leaves the mentally damaged Suavage and his rag tag band of hip hop ragamuffins to protect Wayne, save the distressed damsel, and hopefully put an end to hip hop once and for all.

Why is the movie so bad?  The very concept of releasing mentally damaged people and giving them tons of guns seems just a little suspect to me.  It also has some of the lamest dialog I’ve ever heard, I mean Jean-Claude can only say about thirty words in English anyway and all of them were stupid in this film.  There was a particular scene where one of Sauvages colleagues was shot, with he and Fox’s character Tamara pinned down with gunfire.  Sauvage doesn’t want to leave, but Tamara looks him dead in the eye and says ‘You have a mission soldier!’  He nods affirmatively, and numerous hip hoppers soon die.  That, my friends, is some funny stuff.  Apparently there’s sexual tension between Sauvage and Tamara as they find each other irresistible.  There seemed to be tension between Vivica and Van Damme all right, it just didn’t appear to be sexual.  It’s as if Vivica couldn’t understand the thirty words Jean-Claude was trying to spit out and Jean-Claude didn’t want to tell them to her any damn way.

Why is the movie almost good?  For the same reasons mentioned above on why it’s bad plus throw in some of the funniest bad guys you’re ever gonna see.  They all hold their guns sideways, talk in hip hopeese in a way that I’ve never heard anybody speak, and say 'bitch' and 'ho' a lot.  Ron Selmour as Terrell’s right hand man Simcoe in particular chewed up scenery, carving up hip hoppers with his knife and feeding them to rotwielers, but only to prove a point though.  We all know Jean-Claude ain’t Marlon Brando, but he’s more wooden in this than he’s ever been.  He acts in this movie as if his check was in trouble of clearing, but damn if it didn’t work.

‘The Hard Corps’ works best as a comedy to tell the truth.  And quite honestly it’s good that somebody other than Steven Seagal and DMX get a chance to be in the Hip Hop action genre.  Okay, so it’s no ‘Demolition Man’ or anything but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a good time watching it.  Put it in the bottom of your cue, then sit back in surprise when it arrives and you find out you love it too.

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