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Review: Kill 'Em All (2017)

It’s a sad day for me as I write this review. I’m sad because I have to break some devastating news to all of you (who I know all LOVE Jean-Claude Van Damme as much as I do). Up until now, there has been one constant INDISPUTABLE fact about JCVD’s career; he has never made a bad movie. Not one. Some of you haters of great cinema might try to disagree with me on that by bringing up Universal Soldier: The Return (1999), but I got to see JCVD fight Michael Jai White in that one so I don’t count it as a bad one. Besides, I literally just said that fact is indisputable. . . so I win. Van Damme’s perfect streak came to an end when he made his most recent movie, Kill ‘Em All (2017). I know. That’s probably the stupidest title ever, right? Well don’t worry, it’s perfect considering the rest of the movie is just as uncreative, boring, and terrible as the title.

I would normally discuss the positive aspects of a movie right here but, since there are zero positive qualities to this movie, I’ll have to settle for discussing things that had potential to be good, but were severely mishandled and ruined. First, is the plot. The story is pretty simple, or at least it should be. It is told from the perspective of a nurse working in a mostly empty hospital in the process of being closed down. While she is working, ambulances pull up and bring a couple severely injured people into the hospital. One of those is somebody important who survived an assassination attempt (I don’t remember exactly what he is, but he is important). The other is JCVD, who was part of the security detail protecting Important Guy. Soon after, a group of armed people come to the hospital looking to kill JCVD and Important Guy.

Like I said, this could have been an awesome setup. A kind of Die Hard clone with JCVD kicking ass while already injured and heavily outnumbered. That’s the stuff that action movie gold is made of! Unfortunately, it is executed horribly, and becomes a muddled mess. It is told through flashbacks while the nurse is speaking to the FBI about the whole incident. Instead of focusing on that basic action premise and giving us some badass old-school action, most of the movie is the nurse being interrogated by the FBI. Between the lack of action, the awful interrogation scenes filled with terrible acting and some of the worst dialogue imaginable, the multiple unnecessary twists, and the incompetence of the director, this potentially awesome story becomes entirely too slow, too boring, and way too stupid to be even slightly enjoyable. The other aspect that had potential to be awesome is the action (One scene in particular could have been extremely memorable. I’ll get to that in a second). Even the worst script can be made enjoyable if the action is done right. Unfortunately, first time director, Peter Malota, can’t shoot action scenes at all. He uses the same tactics that most crappy b movie directors use when filming action scenes including, quick cuts, a lot of shaky cam, and hilariously obvious stunt doubles. To add onto the director’s lack of skills, the stunt coordinator (there is no credited fight choreographer, so I’m placing the blame on him) has created some of the most uninspired, boring fights I’ve ever seen on screen. Here’s the best part; that stunt coordinator I just mentioned. . . it’s the director, Peter Malota!!! So he can’t create fight scenes, and he can’t competently film the terrible scenes he does create. Moral of the story? Peter Malota sucks at pretty much anything having to do with movies, so never watch anything he does.

The most disappointing scene of the movie, by far, was a fight scene between Jean-Claude and his real life son, Kris Van Damme. Kris has been in most of Jean-Claude’s recent movies, but this was the first time they had the opportunity to fight each other. It happens about halfway through the movie and I still got excited about it even after seeing plenty of evidence of the directors incompetence. . . my mistake. This potentially epic fight scene between father and son is completely ruined. The fight is (like all the other action) boring and incomprehensible. It isn’t the worst fight scene I’ve ever seen, but it just might be the most disappointing.

I could ramble on and list all the horrible things in this movie, but that would be too long, and probably not very fun to read, so I will keep it short for your sake. Everything about this movie is garbage! I created an icon for “The Worst Movie I’ve Seen Lately” to use on my last review, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Obviously, Kill ‘Em All will be taking that badge (and probably wearing it for a LONG time!), but it is even worse than that. This is not only the worst movie I’ve seen lately, It could very well be the single worst movie I have ever watched. It is truly that bad.

So the real question is, why would JCVD agree to do this film. Some people may claim that Van Damme isn’t a good actor (They are wrong), but I think even the biggest haters would agree he is too good for this movie. And when you look at his recent filmography, this just doesn’t fit in. I mean, when it comes to aging action legends of the 80s/90s, Van Damme is faring much better than most of his counterparts, consistently putting out solid action movies. I dug a little deeper and found out exactly what happened. It turns out, the director, Malota, has a long history with Van Damme. He first worked with Van Damme as the fight choreographer on Double Impact in 1990. He continued to work with Van Damme throughout his career as the fight choreographer for Universal Soldier (1992), The Quest (1996), Desert Heat (1999), Replicant (2001), and more.

That knowledge does two things for me. One, it makes me even more confused about the quality of the fight scenes in Kill ‘Em All. Malota obviously knows what he is doing when it comes to creating fight scenes, so what went wrong in this movie. Maybe his shortcomings as a director hindered what would have been good fights? I truly don’t have an answer for that. Second, it allows me to give Van Damme a pass on this train wreck and declare his filmography flawless again!! He obviously did this as a favor for a friend, without any regards for the quality of the movie. Hell, he probably didn’t even read the script. He’s just a good guy doing his buddy a favor. That earns him a pass in my book!

RATING: 0 out of 10

(I would go negative if that was possible)

I feel like I owe you all an apology. First I chose to watch and review Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, now I chose to watch and review this trash! I promise I’m not doing it on purpose to torture you. I love you guys! I just haven’t been doing so great with my choices. . . I’m like the Peter Malota of choosing movies lately (Sorry I had to get one more dig in). Don’t worry, though. I have some movies picked out to review here shortly that I think will break this streak of terrible movies, so please bear with me. Or, even better, you guys could bail me out. Keep the decision making out of my hands, and send me some comments letting me know which movies you would like me to review next. Or comment about anything else; let me know your thoughts on my reviews, let me know what movies you have seen lately and your thoughts on those, tell me what upcoming movies you are most excited for. Whatever you want to say, I welcome the discussion and I will get back to you. As always I appreciate you reading my stuff, and don’t forget to tell your friends!

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