A.W.O.L. (1990)

Posted in Reviews by - July 15, 2012
A.W.O.L. (1990)

This fight movie is more measured than some of Van Damme‘s previous stuff (Kickboxer, Bloodsport) and scrapes through the dramatics better than you’d think. With Van Damme’s drug-dealing brother being torched to death and our French legionnaire abandoning his camp to go to Los Angeles, the film’s immediate focus centres around a revenge plot. However, Bloodsport writer Sheldon Lettich focuses more on the A.W.O.L. hero supporting his struggling sister-in-law and her baby daughter, raising the cash the only way he knows how: by becoming an illegal bareknuckle fighter. This is B grade stuff – basic locations, overacting, overblown sentimentality, and predictable storytelling, but there are clear signs of Van Damme starting to come good on his promise, and honing his inimitable on-screen charisma. Interactions with single mum Page and his hustler manager accentuate a more compassionate side, and the consistent string of punch-ups ensure we never forget what he’s really here for.

AKA: Lionheart; Wrong Bet.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a keyboard in London, UK.

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