I discovered "Nowhere To Run" while I was trying to find a decent Van Damme movie to watch. He was one of my idols when I was a kid, always watching his stuff with my friends on videotape after recording it on TV. The guy was impressive, and we were too young to give a damn about his acting skills, mostly because we couldn't see the difference between Van Damme and Al Pacino at that time (except for the kicks and the punches).
Fifteen years later, I didn't think that the belgium actor had anything more to offer to me. His carrer was down the flush, he looked high whenever he was speaking on TV, and all of his movies where shot in some unknown East european country for a total of half the price Van Damme was paid 20 years earlier.
So I couldn't imagine being impress anymore by Van Damme, since he was almost 50 years old, and couldn't do his old tricks. He was completely surpassed by guys like Tony Jaa ans Donnie Yen. To me, if he had been one of the greatest action star at some point, he wasn't no more.
That's when there was some talk about a french produced movie starring the washed-up Van Damme, playing himself in a heist film where all his carrer and all the choices he made during his life would be questioned.
That was "JCVD", a film where the action star disappeared to take a look at the actor, at the pretty good actor should I say.
Cause if most people agree about Van Damme performance in this movie, it was no coincidence. The guy had worked hard (since his collaboration with HK filmaker Ringo Lam) on his acting skills, understanding that one day his body will be out of shape. That's how we ended up with movies like "JCVD", a film with no kicks or punches (ok, maybe 3, but that's it !).
So after having watch "JCVD" I started digging in Van Damme others films. No doubt he had done some terrible movies, that represents two thirds and a half of his filmography. Among those, you even have the movies that made him famous, but that cannot be taken seriously nowadays ("Bloodsport", "Lionheart", "Death Warrant").
And you have movies like "Wake of Death", "In Hell", "Replicant", "Maximum Risk", "Until Death", and the very well directed "NOWHERE TO RUN". When I watched this last one, I was stunned by the acting of Van Damme and the quality of the directing, that for once made the movie look like a true Hollywood film. I learned later that it was actually the first Hollywood-produced Van Damme movie.
So if you're looking for a good emotional action film with a great Van Damme, without having him running around an punching bad guys all the time, I'll advise you to see "Nowhere To Run".