The Shepherd (2008)   3/53/53/53/53/5


Jean-Claude Van Damme in The Shepherd (2008)

Van Damme is on the Robb

Having left New Orleans Jack Robideaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme - Until Death) arrives in Columbus to take up a position with the Border Crossing guard under Capt. Ramona Garcia (Natalie J. Robb). He has an eventful first few days from getting into a fight with some locals who mock him when he walks into a diner with his pet rabbit to catching an illegal border crosser wearing a C4 vest. It leads to the discovery that a former group of Navy Seals have started a drug, human and arms smuggling operation across the border. Despite getting his ass chewed by Ramona for always being at the centre of trouble Jack sets about bringing the bad guys down.

There is not a lot you can say about "The Shepherd" as the storyline is the slim sort of vehicle there purely as a basis for some Jean-Claude Van Damme action. As such we see him hand numerous people a butt kicking, we also see him handle his gun in an expert way and when he isn't kicking butts there is plenty of other action and explosions. As for the actual storyline about these former Seals running drugs and weapons across the border well that it all quite boring and leads to a typical scene at a Mexican drug lord's mansion where he has topless beauties walking around.

Natalie J. Robb in The Shepherd (2008)

But "The Shepherd" is a curious movie because as it isn't going for comedy but it has humorous moments. For example when Jack walks into a bar carrying a rabbit in a cage it is such an oddball scene that it is basically ridiculous and almost seems like its purpose is purely to give us the obligatory early on butt kicking scene as Jack takes down a group of smart ass locals. On top of that cliche early moment we have further cliches such as Jack having a troubled past which causes him problems sleeping. But the most comical aspect for me is seeing Moira Barton from Emmerdale, I mean Natalie J. Robb in a movie alongside Van Damme and delivering an American accent, Robb just adds to the comical entertainment factor.

Aside from that well you have to applaud director Isaac Florentine as far too often these sort of action movies are head ache inducing because of all the quick editing. But here Florentine has allowed the camera do the work, it pans from one scene to the next improving the movies flow no end and doesn't chop up the action but shows Van Damme throwing out some impressive movies. He's also made the action explosive be it a shoot out or a scene where Jack saves his partner's life with a thumping kick to a bad guy's chest.

What this all boils down to is that "The Shepherd" doesn't have a great storyline, it doesn't have great characters and it doesn't have great performances. But what it does have is a lot of action and a director who lets the camera do the work rather than the editing room and that makes it better than expected.


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