I went to several stores here in Charlotte, NC to search for the DVD and found very few copies were available (they were hidden on the shelf--not even in the "new release" section) and were retailing at $22. I thought that was a bit rediculous for a direct-to-dvd Van Damme flick, but being a fan I spent the money anyways.
Overall, I found the movie very boring and completely forgettable. I think it finally hit me that Van Damme will never make another movie that I will thoroughly enjoy (the last being Maximum Risk - 10 years ago).
The Plot - D
Don't worry about spoilers as this plot has been used so many times before there is nothing to spoil. Hero gets dispatched to a war zone, hero must gain respect of peers, hero must have a love interest to break up the action segments, hero must be betrayed or have something bad happen, and then the hero saves the day. If you are familar with the original Assault on Precinct 13, then picture that movie but in a military, foreign country setting. Also, it doesn't help that the movie is very short--standard 90 minutes or less.
Character Development/Acting - C
Van Damme was playing, well Van Damme (actually Commander Keenan). His acting has not changed in over a decade. (His acting improved back in 1995's Timecop from his earlier movies, but has never gotten any better since Timecop.) He is stiff, hard to understand and never really all that believable as a Navy SEAL. For those of us who loved his old movies and the martial arts--forget it. He has maybe 3-4 one-on-one fights where he does a few kicks, but mostly uses punches, a knife, a gun and a assault rifle to dispatch the enemies. They try to give his character a back story about why he won't evacuate the embassy, but it is so vague and short, that it really doesn't matter.
As for the supporting actors, there were no standouts. They all played their roles and I have never seen any of them in anything before. At least in Wake of Death, you had a young Asian actress who, in my opinion, did a great job in her role alongside Van Damme. In this movie, every supporting actor was utterly forgettable. The forced romance between the female newsreporter and Van Damme's Keenan was out of place in this kind of movie and there was no chemistry between the two.
Music Score/Sound - D
Was there one? Seriously, I cannot remember even one melody or action score. As for sound, well, it was the typical machine guns, loud explosions, etc.
Cinematography/Visual Effects - C
This category would have actually gotten a B, except that certain scenes have some very noticeably bad CGI and model effects. The actual cinematography was good with some hand camera work that made you feel that you were watching the events unravel on CNN. Likewise, the scale of the movie seemed a lot larger due to the camera angles and the existing architecture. (One scene has a bunch of people trying to assault the embassy and it was very convincing.)
Movie Overall - C
DVD Features - F
This release is perhaps the best example of a poorly made DVD. It only contains the movie and a bunch of trailers of other direct-to-dvd movies. But get this--there is no trailer of the actual movie, teaser or otherwise!!
Likewise, there are no special features or commentaries.
And this is from Sony Home Entertainment!! They spent no money on this package and then have it retail over $20.
I only hope, as a Van Damme fan, that The Hard Corps will remove the sour taste in my mouth that I have after watching Second in Command, a truly bargain basement thriller that should retail at $5. Rent this movie, before buying!!