As in Hard Target(/93)and his more recent Until Death(2007),Van Damme once again bases his character in or from New Orleans in The Shepherd-Border Patrol(released March 2008).This taut action film shows us an area of topic of which Hollywood usually doesn't often touch on;the people who patrol and maintain border security along the US-Mexican line.
The story involves a New Orleans cop by the name of Jack Robideaux who comes to the small town of Columbus,New Mexico to join the border patrol.Jack's 16 year old daughter died of a drug overdose and to get some kind of closure and of course revenge for her death,he wants to help smash the local cartel sitting just across the border.When two drug cartel leaders meet in Mexico to discuss a cessation of hostilities between them,the henchmen of one group decide to kill both leaders and the others' thugs and take over the entire business for themselves.These are no ordinary henchmen however,they are trained ex army special servicemen who are thorough,very determined and deadly.This is the scenario Jack,unawares,walks into.
Jack's boss is Capt Garcia(Natalie Robb) and she warns Jack not to mess with the locals.In a restaurant in his first few minutes there he has to defend himself against a jealous local,who he dispatches very quickly.Next day Jack is reprimanded by the Captain and then coupled with his new partner Billy Pawnell(Gary McDonald).One of their first confrontations leads to the local border where there is a shoot out going on between border agents and some well armed Mexicans trying to cross.Jack and Billy swing around and come in from another direction and Jack manages to take down one of the fleeing illegals before they can re-enter the fence.This is no ordinary illegal however as he has explosives strapped to his body.Jack gets the bomb squad in but it is no use as from just across the fence the ex-army contingent is observing everything.The bomb detonates and the bomb disposal man barely escapes being killed.
The heat is on now as the ex-army drug lords try to buy off Jack when he takes down two thugs during a robbery.He is offered a bank roll by one he has in handcuffs as another tries to sneak up and pop a cap in Jack from the side but he is seen and he is quickly dispatched.
The next major move by the drug cartel is to sneak a bus load of their product across the border.They hermetically seal the stuff under the bus so the dogs can't detect it and they reinforce the bus throughout with titanium steel in case of trouble.Their rouse is a fake trip to a southern US destination as nuns and priests;even to the extent of having real priests and nuns on board.They reach the border and an agent comes on board,but as he is checking one of the last people he becomes suspicious.As they realize the jig is up they open up on the border personnel killing some and zooming into the States.Jack and Billy are dispatched and they position themselves on a bridge over looking the highway which has been totally roadblocked.The bus retreats from the roadblock,turns around and heads back to Jack who opens up on the bus,killing a few but in general to no avail.Jack and Billy follow the bus back to the border and across into Mexican territory.
The bus arrives just before Jack and Billy and the local police aid in their escape by taking their shipment of drugs as payment.Jack and Billy soon arrive along with the Mexican police and have a brief shoot out with them but to no avail.Jack and Billy are arrested by the local constabulary and taken into prison.While there we find out Billy has been an inside snitch for the drug people all along.Also Capt.Garcia has been taken captive by them and Jack finally confronts his well armed and determined enemy.They come to the prison as they are VERY interested in the man who has put a major dent in their entire operations.They take both to their mansion where they interrogate and threaten to torture Jack if he doesn't tell them who he is and why he's there.When he reveals the details of his daughter's death the head ex serviceman says"I'm not the one who killed your daughter".Jack replies"You're all the same".
Eventually Jack and Garcia get loose and in the process kill Billy.She uses his cell phone to phone for immediate back up from the States and they indeed come.In the meantime the cartel's customers are upset with the non-delivery of their shipments and the ex-service mens foreign accounts are one by one withdrawn from;to zero.The now desperate men are down to just a handful and just before help arrives Jack finally manages to dispatch the head and final man by his own methods.
The film ends with Jack,with some closure now,heading back to his wife the way he arrived;in his pick up truck.
This 95 minute film moves along at a good pace and even the beginning set up doesn't weaken the flow,as some films have a tendency to do.Van Damme is again on top of his game and for his fans there are more than a few good fight scenes to savour.Van Damme is still in remarkably good shape and has plenty of scenes to show his physique off in.The plot has alot of twists and turns and it even,in a fashion,illicits some sympathy from us for the antagonists of the movie;the ex servicemen.
Technically the DVD is presented in its widescreen a/r of 1:85:1 and has been mastered in Hi Def so the picture is quite clear and sharp.There are no extras to speak of but there a few trailers,amongst which are three of Van Damme's movies:Hard Corps,Until Death and Second in Command,which if you haven't seen them might tweak your interest.
All in all I give the movie a solid 3 1/2 to four star rating.A good action movie and Van Damme does a good job in his role with a fine supporting cast.If Van Damme references New Orleans anymore than he has,I think the city will at least owe him a parade and the key to the city!Recommended.