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Damage (DVD Review)

18 Mar, 2010 By: John Latchem

Street 3/23/10
$22.98 DVD
Rated ‘R’  for bloody violence and language.
Stars Steve Austin, Laura Vandervoort, William B. Davis, Walton Goggins, Lynda Boyd, Donnelly Rhodes.

Audiences shouldn’t expect much from Damage, but as a fight movie it delivers the goods. Damage is a much more effective star vehicle for WWE Hall of Famer “Stone Cold” Steve Austin than his previous film, The Condemned, and fans from his days as the beer-swilling trash-talking WWE brawler shouldn’t be disappointed.

Austin stars as John Brickner, who earns parole after a four-year prison sentence for manslaughter. His release was aided by letters written by the wife of the man he killed. She wants him to earn the $250,000 needed to pay for her 8-year-old daughter’s heart transplant.

Brickner wants to make amends, but jobs as a bouncer and construction worker won’t raise the cash fast enough. Seeing as he’s built like a professional wrestler, two-bit hustler Reno (Walton Goggins of “The Shield”) and his girlfriend (former “Smallville” and current “V” hottie Laura Vandervoort) offer to set up Brickner on the underground fighting circuit, where a win against the champion can earn the money to save the girl.

Reno has his own motives, of course, having to pay off a sizable debt to a local crime lord played by William B. Davis, best known as the cigarette smoking man from “The X-Files.”

The echoes of No Holds Barred (the 1989 wrestling movie starring Austin precursor Hulk Hogan) are obvious, except in Damage the final opponent is merely one last obstacle for Brickner to overcome, rather than being a key character in the plot.

As could be expected for a direct-to-video release, the fight choreography is a little underwhelming and the writing leans toward the melodramatic. However, the actors seem to be making the most of the material, especially the great Donnelly Rhodes (“Battlestar Galactica”) as the wisecracking “commissioner” of the fighting league.

There’s also a funny recurring gag about a parole officer who really doesn’t care what’s going on, as long as Brickner passes his drug test.

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