February 8, 1993 -- ``Nowhere to Run'' marks grunt-and-kick specialist Jean Claude Van Damme's successful entry into so-called mainstream motion pictures.
While the plot is pretty familiar, evil developer with foreign accent tries to muscle widow and kids off the farm and is saved by fisticuffs and well-aimed kicks, the acting and dialogue are way above average.
Most kung fu flicks are fairly low concept. Lots of fighting, lots of blood, bad acting, terrible dialogue, stupid plot and mouths that don't quite move in sync with the words. This one has good character development, a plot that does make sense and some of the bad guys aren't all bad. Van Damme plays a guy who breaks out of prison with the help of a buddy and hides out at the farm mentioned above.
He slowly becomes friends with the widow, played by Rosanna Arquette, and the two kids. He becomes their protector against the bad guys. Arquette's sheriff's deputy-on-the-take boyfriend confuses the whole issue. It's a little like the movie ``Shane.''
Arquette is very good in her role as the tough widow determined to keep her farm. Van Damme does a good job of portraying a man torn between self preservation and saving the woman he loves. The relationship between the two works well. The film goes pretty easy on the violence for an action film, but there are some gratuitous nude scenes thrown in for an ``R'' rating, along with the usual foul language.
All in all, it is a pretty good action film and it could be a breakthrough for Van Damme. It also should be a boost for Arquette, who has not been active for the past few years. It rates a B.
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