If you’ve always wanted to see Jean-Claude Van Damme as a French-Canadian Mountie/vegan drug-dealer, then Enemies Closer is the incredibly specific movie for you! It’s a must-see film, not because it’s that great, but because it’s about as crazy a role as JCVD has ever played. His one-liners are amazing, his antics are worth the price of purchase, and that hair just never quits. Tom Everett Scott and Orlando Jones also star in the Peter Hyams-directed action thriller that’s available now on DVD and Blu-ray. Hit the jump for my Enemies Closer Blu-ray review.
Let me take you to a peaceful, secluded lake somewhere along the U.S.-Canadian border. Forest Ranger Henry (Everett Scott) has relocated here for some relative peace and quiet, and to put some distance between himself and his military past. He picked the wrong lake. After a botched drug transport lands a small plane at the bottom of the lake along with its cargo, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) team is on the case … for a few minutes. Because a band of ruthless French-Canadian mercenaries/drug dealers have called dibs on it, and their leader, Xander (Van Damme), is on a mission.
JCVD is completely off the rails as Xander, and it’s by design. In the audio commentary track, Hyams said that he wanted Van Damme to go all out for this role, not to pull any punches (literally and figuratively), and to just commit to it. He sure did. Xander is a full-on vegan with a distaste for guns, but also a psychotic and lethal killer. He’ll worry about a carbon footprint one second, and then snap a guy’s neck the next. He’ll stab a defenseless bystander in the heart, and then stop to talk to a strawberry. It’s insane. And it’s fantastic. Worth watching the movie just for his character.
So what does Ranger Henry have to do with this whole thing? Well, it turns out that the drug dealers need him to dive down to the bottom of the lake and recover their drugs. Makes sense, right? So that’s what most of the movie is about: the team running all over the woods trying to rope him in. Complicating matters is, get this, an ex-con named Clay (Jones) who has tracked down the ranger to this very spot on this very day in order to kill him. Why? (Does it really matter?) Because he thinks Henry’s responsible for getting his brother killed during the war. Needless to say, the two have to put their differences aside to stay alive when faced with Xander’s team of trigger-happy mercenaries.
Everett Scott and Jones do their best here, but it’s such a wacky plot with some unintentionally laugh-out-loud dialogue that there’s not much they can do. It’s nice to see Jones (and Van Damme as well) playing against type, and he sells most of his stunt work. Everett Scott … not so much. He just seems like a nice guy who’s along for the ride throughout. I will say that I’m glad pictures like this are still getting made: the low-budget, short production schedule, guerilla-style filmmaking that can only be accomplished in the wilds of Bulgaria. With that approach, every once in a while you’ll get a diamond in the rough. Enemies Closer is just straight-up rough, but still worth a rent to watch JCVD lose his mind.
- A Closer Look: Making Enemies Closer (~10 minutes) – Behind-the-scenes featurette with Van Damme, Everett Scott, and Hyams.
- Audio Commentary with Peter Hyams