Jean-Claude Van Damme stars as Xander, the maniacal leader of the drug cartel who forces Henry (Tom Everett Scott), a forest ranger and former Navy SEAL to help in the search. Henry is plunged into survival mode as he is soon trapped in the wilderness with no communication to the outside world, and finds himself face to face with Clay (Orlando Jones), a man with a personal vendetta against him who has returned for retribution. Now, the two mortal enemies must make a choice: put aside their past and work together, or die alone at the hands of the drug runners, a ruthless gang who will stop at nothing to retrieve their lost cargo.
Jean-Claude Van Damme is having one hell of a year so far. You could say that his career is back on track from being non-existent for the past decade or so with the exception of the amazing film 'J.C.V.D.', or is viral car commercial that had him doing the splits on two moving vehicles. We know he will be in the next 'Expendables' film and now he has two films, which both take place on islands and is coming out on Blu-ray this month. The box art tells us that this is Van Damme as you've never seen him before, which is true, as he plays a bad guy who loves nature and the environment, and who is a staunch vegan. You may commence your laughter and curiosity now.
On an interesting note, this film, entitled 'Enemies Closer', reunites Van Damme and director Peter Hyams yet again, as they both worked on 'Timecop' and 'Sudden Death'. Hyams once again gives Van Damme a surprisingly good action vehicle with some great action beats and one liners. But of course there are some cliches to go around for everyone and some interesting casting decisions such as Orlando Jones and Tom Everett Scott, who play rough and tough arch enemies who are forced into a survival game against a drug cartel on an island.
The film starts interestingly enough with a plane crash, but the action is quickly transferred to an island where we meet Henry (Scott), who is a park ranger and a former Navy SEAL. Henry seems like a very good guy as he helps tourists on the island and locals. You could say that you want him as your friend, but there is something slightly off about him. While we are figuring what that is about, we see that someone is spying and stalking Henry, a man named Clay (Jones).
Without divulging too much information, Clay might be someone from Henry's past who has come to exact his revenge on Henry by killing him. Meanwhile, at a U.S. government agency, the agents are discussing the plane that went down at the start of the film. They tend to agree that it was a drug cartel plane that was flying too low under the radar and crashed with tons of drugs onboard. Then enters a group of Canadian ranger guys in uniform led by Xander (Van Damme), who offer to help the US. Little does anyone know that these Canadians are in fact the bad drug cartel guys, and they head out to the island where Henry and Clay are about to do battle to the death.
Once Xander arrives with his gang of henchmen, Clay and Henry must set aside their differences for a little while to stay alive and are forced to help Xander find his missing drugs. Van Damme is great here, as we see him play a fun yet ruthless bad guy with some interesting quirks. He sure has come a long way from 'Bloodsport'. Jones and Scott are somewhat believable here, but it was hard to wrap my head around their characters, considering their previous work as the 7-Up guy and the main character from 'Dead Man on Campus'. It's not that they didn't sell their character, it's just something very different for these actors.
There are some great action sequences where Van Damme gets to be Van Damme, and there are some interesting twists along the way. Does 'Enemies Closer' change the action genre? Not at all, but it's one entertaining action movie with the Muscles from Brussels.
'Enemies Closer' comes with a decent 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Most all of the film takes place at night without a whole lot of natural light brightening up the screen. The detail is solid, with well-defined closeups of the actors faces that show the individual sweat drops rolling down their faces, as well as facial hairs. But in the wider shots, things get a little bit softer.
The darker lit scenes have the black levels running mostly deep and inky with a tiny bit of flaws with the shadow detail, but it has an overall great look. The colors are well-saturated with some color hues added in for effect from time to time. You're not going to get an overly bright colorful image her, but the grittiness of it stands out. Besides a little bit of motion blur, this image is free of banding and any other compression issues.
This release comes with a great lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the sound on this Blu-ray. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand. It's perfectly situated on the center channel and is free of any pops, cracks, and hissing. The sound effects are amazing as they pour through the surrounds often, especially during the heavy action sequences.
They are robust and loud, whether it be a plane flying by, waves crashing, or somebody getting hit, the sounds really do make this film enjoyable. The score never drowns out the sound effects or dialogue either. The LFE is excellent throughout and the dynamic range is very wide, earning this audio presentation high marks.
A Closer Look: Making 'Enemies Closer' (HD, 8 mins.) - Here is a short look at the making of the film. It has some fun interviews with some of the cast and crew as well as some on set footage at the fight choreography. This is worth checking out.
Audio Commentary with Director Peter Hyams - Hyams gives us an informative and fun commentary as he discusses shooting on location, the fight choreography, and the safety that goes into it. He also talks about the characters and provides some fun stories about filming on set.
'Enemies Closer' is a very fun film with an over-the-top performance from Van Damme that demands to be seen. He's brilliant here. Hyams keeps the pace flowing fast in this thrilling yarn about drugs and revenge. The audio/video presentation is great. Although there are only a couple of extras, they're worth checking out. If you're a fan of Van Damme, then I highly suggest you pick this up.