Until Death


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

If you don't pay much attention to non-theatrical movies, you may have missed the fact that Jean-Claude Van Damme is experiencing something of a career revival. His career is taking the exact opposite path from our favorite pudgy paladin, Steven Seagal. While Seagal's post-theatrical career has been a steady stream of worthless dreck, interrupted only by an occasional foray into mediocrity, Van Damme's recent movies have been the best of his career!

Granted, that was not a high hurdle to clear.

  1. (7.46) - Sinav (2006)
  2. (5.98) - Narco (2004)
  3. (5.93) - Until Death (2007)
  4. (5.79) - Bloodsport (1988)
  5. (5.58) - In Hell (2003)
  6. (5.40) - Timecop (1994)
  7. (5.39) - Hard Target (1993)
  8. (5.38) - Wake of Death (2004)
  9. (5.27) - The Hard Corps (2006)
  10. (5.20) - Universal Soldier (1992)
  11. (5.18) - Second in Command (2006)
  12. (5.10) - Sudden Death (1995)
  13. (5.10) - Kickboxer (1989/I)
  14. (5.09) - Lionheart (1990)
  15. (4.90) - Replicant (2001)
  16. (4.82) - Rue barbare (1984)
  17. (4.80) - Maximum Risk (1996)
  18. (4.80) - Death Warrant (1990)
  19. (4.70) - Nowhere to Run (1993)
  20. (4.51) - Breakin' (1984)
  21. (4.50) - Legionnaire (1998)
  22. (4.40) - Double Impact (1991)
  23. (4.40) - The Quest (1996)
  24. (4.21) - The Order (2001)
  25. (4.12) - Inferno (1999/II)
  26. (4.11) - No Retreat, No Surrender (1986)
  27. (4.11) - Cyborg (1989)
  28. (3.81) - Knock Off (1998)
  29. (3.81) - Double Team (1997)
  30. (3.61) - Monaco Forever (1984)
  31. (3.14) - Derailed (2002)
  32. (3.02) - Universal Soldier: The Return (1999)
  33. (3.01) - Street Fighter (1994)
  34. (2.87) - Black Eagle (1988)

His last really poor movie was Derailed in 2002. Since then he has made seven films, and they are seven of the top eleven in his filmography.

I haven't seen any of the other six, but Until Death is absolutely a watchable movie. Jean-Claude plays a real bastard of a cop. He's a junkie and a drunk. He's a disheveled slob. He abuses women. He has no loyalty to his fellow officers. He treats his partner like shit. He seems to have no friends, and no tender feelings. His life changes dramatically when an attack by his crooked ex-partner (the ever world-weary Stephen Rea) leaves him in a coma. When he awakes, after several months without booze or junk, he is suddenly able to see what an asshole he has become, and starts out to make things right.

The film is not without its problems. The first is character development. The behavior and dialogue of Van Damme's screen wife indicates that he used to be a good guy, and not too long ago. After the coma he becomes a good guy again. What is not clear to me is how and why he could have become such an ass so quickly. A second problem is that some of Van Damme's fellow cops are completely unbelievable as police officers, in both their overall demeanor and their grooming. Also disappointing is the fact that Van Damme doesn't really do any ass-kicking with his fists or feet. He takes out his antagonists with handguns, which makes him the same as any other screen cop, and makes an observer wonder why they hired the Belgian Bad-Ass for the role in the first place.

The second half of the film, after he turns from a Belgian Bully into a Belgian Waffler, righting all the world's wrongs and virtually rebuilding all the Hurricane Katrina damage with his bare hands, is not as much fun. In fact it's downright routine. There are some hackneyed "passage of time" montages showing Rea taking over the New Orleans mobs, then there are scenes of Van Damme doing more good works than Mother Theresa and Jimmy Carter combined. Finally Van D gets even with Rea in an improbable face-off in which Jean-Claude and one sixty-year-old fat guy manage to defeat the entire criminal underworld of Louisiana in a warehouse shoot-out.

Notwithstanding those matters, the first half of this film, with Van Damme as a total prick, is atmospheric and interesting, and the middle-aged Van Damme surprises us all by making an excellent antihero. He should consider making the transition completely to character acting and become a professional baddie, because he seems to have some genuine talent for it.


* widescreen anamorphic

* no features







No major reviews online





6.0 IMDB summary (of 10)













  • Julia Horvath shows T&A as a prostitute exploited by Van Damme.






Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


A solid straight-to-vid cops and robbers film. Quite watchable if you have reasonable expectations, especially the first half, before Van Damme turns into Francis of Assisi.