Darkness of Man Movie Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

On May 21, the official digital release of the action thriller “Darkness of Man,” starring action star Jean-Claude Van Damme, took place. In this review, we reflect on why the creators of the film chose the wrong genre for their unpretentious creation.

Pros:

the presence of stars of the past in the frame;

Minuses:

the absolute absurdity of almost everything that happens on the screen;

“Darkness of Man”

Genre thriller, action
Directed by James Cullen Bressac
Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kristanna Loken, Emerson Min, Spencer Breslin, Zack Ward, Cynthia Rothrock, Shannen Doherty
Premiere digital services
Year of manufacture 2024
IMDb website

Once upon a time, in a roadside diner, the stern Interpol agent Russell Hatch promised the desperate Esther that he would definitely take care of her son Jayden. The woman is connected to the Korean mafia, so if something happens to her, the guy will need protection. According to the rules of the genre, immediately after this something happens to her, and Russell, in addition to his passion for strong alcohol and entertainment with a new passion, devotes himself to the care of a Korean teenager.

This extremely important mission not only involves a constant headache from the damned booze, but also brings Hatch into contact with unfriendly representatives of the Korean and Russian mafia. Now he will have to remember his best fighting skills in order to repel the criminal elements who have nothing else to do except mess with the unlucky schoolboy.

If any of the viewers, fans of Jean-Claude Van Damme, for example, had any hopes regarding this film, then they risk being dispelled without a trace in the first five minutes. It was then that the debut shootout took place in the frame, in which the main character, right in the midst of the process, when he could die, receives the most ridiculous (or the funniest, depending on who cares) wound in the history of cinema.

And don’t let the instant action without build-up fool you, because “Darkness of Man” really wants to look like a dark and drawn-out thriller, while there are pitiful crumbs left of the action movie here. For those who, at the initial stages, didn’t have enough of Van Damme’s voiceover, blinds and night rain to understand that what we have here is actually a cool type of noir, and not these meaningless shooting games of yours, posters of “The Big Sleep” will flash in the frame. (1946) and In a Cozy Place (1950) with genre icon Humphrey Bogart.

But the poor mimicry of “black cinema” from James Cullen Bressac, the director of such unforgettable “hits” as “Outlaw” (2019) with the unpleasant guy Seagal or “Surviving the Game” (2021) with Bruce Willis, looks damn funny. In the first minutes of the film, Van Damme’s character politely refuses a drink, and already in the 20th minute, given the chaos that is going on around him, he orders a bottle from the bartender. And he can be understood. The best years of the main star of this show are already far behind him, so instead of the signature twists and turns, the plot offers pseudo-philosophical voice-over mologues, from which you can learn that no matter what stone you throw into the water, it will still sink. The rare action scenes here are too pathetic for there to be any point in comparing them to the production of action films of the new formation, although Jean-Claude still tries to assure that he is still a street fighter, which is necessary.

If Bressac had added even a grain of self-irony to this triumph of sheer boredom, or stopped pretending to be a serious filmmaker, we could have seen a completely different movie, even an outright category B one. But no, the local screen absurdity is presented with the most serious expression on his face.

Understand the level of cringe in the following scene: the protagonist, whose only disguise is sunglasses, as if nothing had happened, gets into the car of the Russian mafia boss. The latter is also looking for the killer of Alexei, who is our genius of disguise. The hapless bandits discover that they have a stranger in their cabin already halfway to their own death. Such dramaturgy reveals two very interesting things. The first is that the authors of the film treat their viewer as an idiot. The second is that Russians are so stupid that they don’t know how to differentiate between people. How were they going to find Alexei’s killer, much less deal with the Koreans? Meanwhile, Russell Hatch, like the recent John Sugar (there has been more of a noir aesthetic lately), suffers from hand tremors, touches the bottle and confidently continues to share with the viewer with your valuable thoughts. In particular, he tirelessly pours out metaphors that life is decay, and there is no smoke without fire, or something like that.

You can get much more pleasure from watching it if you perceive it all as a comedy, take my word for it.

In addition to the unshakable Van Damme, for whom the costume designers were not even too lazy to find a beautiful raincoat (but apparently there was not enough budget for a hat), other stars who had long been written off long ago came to the celebration of bad taste. Model Kristanna Loken started off promisingly and even acted as a rival to Iron Arnie himself in Terminator 3. But then something clearly went wrong for the beauty, and the active participation in the imperishable films of the German genius Uwe Boll put an end to the actress’s participation in sane projects. Here Kristanna literally plays the main character’s first aid kit: only they will give him some at the next showdown, as if on call She appears as a magical savior. So to speak, she regressed from TX to HP. For the sake of one unfortunate dialogue, Shannen Doherty, whom you may remember from the television hits “All Women Are Witches” or “Beverly Hills, 90210,” also appeared in the frame. Now Doherty is a regular in Bressac’s films. There were also some completely stupid cameos by Cynthia Rothrock and Eric Roberts.

It’s nice to know that the stars of the golden era of action movies are still trying to make it into the mainstream. But at the same time, it becomes a shame that they are forced to serve their number in such film trash. Van Damme has already shot himself this year. Now it’s Chuck Norris’s turn.

Conclusion:

“Darkness of Man” aims to pass as a serious and dark neo-noir, but what we end up with is a quirky comedy that makes you cry more than laugh.

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