Nowhere to Run (1993)

Robert Harmon directed The Hitcher and the Tom Selleck starring Jesse Stone series of TV movies. Here, he guides JCVD to a much more dramatic tale than he’s normally in. No worries — the film stays true to the Van Damme trope that it must explain to you that he’s another nationality. Here, he’s Sam Gillen, a Québécois convict who escapes from Federal custody thanks to his partner. Yes, Van Damme is not a good guy here and his actions directly lead to the death of his friend.

In their last heist, that very same partner killed a bank guard, a crime for which Sam was ultimately convicted. Sam moves on alone, camping on a piece of farmland owned by Clydie Anderson (Rosanna Arquette), who is a widow with two kids, Mookie (Kieran Culkin) and Bree.

After some sneaking around, Sam ends up saving the family from some ruffians. That’s when he learns that she’s been holding out on selling her property to Franklin Hale (Joss Ackland!), who for some reason will go out of business without having Clydie’s property to build tract homes. I have no idea how real estate works, people.

Hale gets Mr. Dunston (Ted Levine!) to try and oust Clydie and the corrupt Sheriff Lonnie Poole (Edward Blatchford, who played the cool brother of Mr. Belding in a very important and special episode of Saved By the Bell) is all into Clydie. He gets the dirt on Sam and forces him to leave, but still sends the cops after him.

While all that is happening, Hale forces Clydie to sign over her home and sets it on fire. Sam comes back just in time to kill Dunston and turns himself over to the police, having learned that running away is never the right thing to do.

Nowhere To Run was originally called Pals and was written by legendary wildman Joe Eszterhas and director Richard Marquand. He told The Guardian, “The script was taken and destroyed many years later by Jean-Claude Van Damme as Nowhere to Run. It lost its sensitivity, it lost everything. I don’t like to remember that movie.”

It’s a downer, to be honest. If you’re coming here expecting Bloodsport, maybe you should just watch Bloodsport. Or Kickboxer. Or The Quest.

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