An action movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins and a cute bunny? Sounds good, but it isn’t. We can only advise you against “The Shepherd”, which is running on free TV this Thursday.
When Isaac Florentine launched the brutal martial arts hit Undisputed II in 2006, the director was celebrated by action lovers around the world. In fact, Florentine is one of those second-tier craftsmen who really are able to deliver grandiose bang-on spectacles for little money. Mainly thanks to the steely athleticism of Scott Adkins, which Florentine knows how to stage like no other, “Undisputed II”, “Undisputed III” and also “Close Range” are a must for all fans of cracking action fare.
However, there are also exceptions. Isaac Florentine and Scott Adkins may have worked together again in The Shepherd, which airs today April 7 at 10pm on Tele 5, but we strongly advise against the film. The actioner, in which Jean-Claude Van Damme took on the leading role, can only be seen censored on free TV due to its Fsk 18 rating. In addition, the action banger is also pretty bad.
If you are still interested in “The Shepherd” and would like to see the film in the unabridged version, you can currently rent it from Amazon Prime Video for a small fee of 2.99 euros. The actioner has not yet been released on Blu-ray in Germany, while the DVD is currently out of print.
» “The Shepherd” on Amazon Prime Video*
That’s what “The Shepherd” is about
At his own request, Jack Robideaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) transfers from the homicide squad in New Orleans to the Mexican-American border police. They’ve got their hands full right now, as former US elite soldiers (including Scott Adkins) are now looking to make a lot of money after serving in the Afghan war and feel like America hasn’t thanked them enough.
Drug crime has therefore risen rapidly in this region, which means that more and more drugs are being smuggled from Mexico to the United States. Jack Robideaux has now set himself the task of putting an end to the dirty goings-on. He is not alone on the road, but always has a cute little bunny with him…
This Van Damme actioner sucks
Aside from the oddity of Jean-Claude Van Damme carrying a rabbit around with him, there’s not much to offer in The Shepherd that would in any way justify watching this film. The official FILMSTARTS review gave the actioner a weak 1.5 out of a possible 5 stars. Author Björn Becher writes in his review:
“One shouldn’t place too high demands on the story with a B-actioner anyway, but when one is offered the most unimaginative of the unimaginative, like here, then one can shake one’s head. Then we have the broken character, haunted by the past and on his own personal vendetta – complete with all the story developments chewed through thousands of times.”
Due to the lack of creativity, “The Shepherd” causes boredom very quickly. With director Isaac Florentine, one could have counted on being offered dynamic genre cinema, which doesn’t push the boring story too conspicuously into the foreground. In this regard, the criticism states: “The acclaimed b-action director rarely shows his talent. The lack of tension is therefore far too seldom made up for by rich action.“
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The fact that Florentine brought along his regular actor Scott Adkins in a supporting role makes for one or the other respectable martial arts move, but the final confrontation between Adkins and Van Damme is completely uninteresting: “Anyone who was looking forward to a great duel between two martial arts geniuses will be bitterly disappointed.” All that’s left to say is: I’d rather watch Florentine’s “Undisputed” films again. At least they have real oomph.
*The link to the Amazon offer is a so-called affiliate link. If you make a purchase through this link, we will receive a commission.