Review: Jean-Claude Van Damme makes few friends in ‘Enemies Closer’

Jean-Claude Van Damme, left, and Tom Everett Scott in "Enemies Closer."

At 53, Jean-Claude Van Damme is still an extraordinary physical specimen, performing his trademark splits while perched on the side-view mirrors of semi-trucks driving parallel, in reverse, in that YouTube video that went viral a couple months ago.

Unfortunately the actor’s new feature film, “Enemies Closer,” focuses more energy on the eccentricities of his character, a French Canadian drug-cartel boss, than his martial-arts skills, saddling him with wild, reddish-blond Anne Burrell hair and a pathological regard for the environment. (He’s a vegan villain!)

As Xander, Van Damme is at least entertaining in a so-bad-it’s-good sort of way. Not so for poor Tom Everett Scott, who is terribly miscast as Henry, a Navy SEAL-turned-park ranger who patrols a forested island near the U.S.-Canadian border. The affable actor is just too soft and lumbering to convince us he was an elite military fighter.

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Henry is confronted by Clay (Orlando Jones), an ex-con whose little brother died in combat under Henry’s command. Before they can hash out their differences, though, they’re hunted by Xander and his goons, who need Henry to retrieve 50 pounds of heroin from the bottom of a lake.

Directed by Peter Hyams (“Timecop,” Van Damme’s highest-grossing lead role to date), “Enemies Closer” suffers from wincingly bad dialogue delivered as if by jocks in a high-school play and action choreographed as if for a gymnasium stage.


“Enemies Closer.”


MPAA rating: R for strong violence and language.

Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.

Playing: At AMC Burbank Town Center 8. Also on VOD.