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After a couple of straight forward action flicks, Kill ‘Em All and Black Water, Jean-Claude Van Damme is back with something a bit different. The Bouncer is a French language, (Van Damme dubbed himself for the English version), film that leans more on the dramatic than the violent.

Lukas (Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bloodsport, Universal Soldier) is an aging but still efficient bouncer at a popular club. He’s also a widower raising an eight-year-old daughter, Sarah (Alice Verset). After a scuffle with a politician’s son turns ugly, he finds himself out of work.

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He’s hired on at a strip club owned by Jan Dekkers (Sam Louwyck, Brimstone, Bullhead) a major mob figure. The cops led by Interpol agent Maxim Zeroual (Sami Bouajila) lean on Lukas to turn informant on Dekkers and his second in command Geert (Kevin Janssens, Revenge). It seems, apart from the scuffle that cost him his job, there are other shady events in his past. Related to his security work in South Africa.

Director Julien Leclercq (Earth And Blood, The Assault) and writer Jérémie Guez (The Night Eats The World) have created a film that’s well suited for its aging lead. Taking advantage of the fact he can actually act, they’ve constructed a crime drama with just enough action to be believable. And that’s a good thing because in The Bouncer Van Damme really looks past his expiration date.

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Granted, he’s supposed to be playing a guy who has been beaten down by life, but he’s starting to look unconvincing beating down guys half his age. The Bouncer accommodates for that and really this is a direction he should have started to go in after JCVD back in 2008. Spinning his action hero persona into more conventional tough guy roles. He certainly has the talent to get through a film without throwing kicks every few minutes.

The scene where he auditions for the bouncer job, basically all the applicants fighting Battle Royale style till only one is left, is well done. He wins as much by using his head as his fists, which makes sense for his character. There’s also a good car chase and some random punch ups. And a fittingly grim and brutal ending.

The Bouncer is apparently different from the original version of the film that was released in Europe last year as Lukas. It’s had some scenes trimmed and is dubbed into English. The original version was mostly in French with some Flemish, (it’s set in Belgium) and English with everything subtitled.

Those looking for a typical Van Damme film will be either surprised or disappointed by The Bouncer. Those looking for a gritty crime film should have a good time, though.

The Bouncer is available on VOD via Blue Fox Entertainment.

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