In Hell (2003)

Ringo Lam and Van Damme worked together on three films — Maximum Risk and Replicant are the other two — and this one finds JCVD living the Cool Hand Luke life in a Russian prison. However, unlike the only other Russian prison movie I’ve ever seen, Red Heat, there’s no Sylvia Kristel. There is, however, an appearance by Lawrence Taylor, former NFL great and WrestleMania XI main eventer.

Kyle LeBlanc (Van Damme) is an American working overseas in Russia. One day, he hears his wife being attacked while speaking to her on the phone. He arrives too late to save her and the man who killed her, Sergio, buys off the judges. So Van Damme does what anyone else would: he kills Sergio and goes to jail for life.

Soon, he’s become friends with people like young American Billy Cooper and wheelchair-bound Malakai. Then, he’s put in a cell with the violent Inmate 451 (Taylor), who the head of the guards hopes will kill our hero. Nope — they become friends.

The general who runs the place has a secret fight league inside the prison. Are you surprised? I mean, why else would Van Damme be there? Soon, our hero has lost his mind and is messing dudes up left and right while his friend Billy keeps trying to escape. Sadly, his big attempt is foiled by Malaki being a snitch, so 451 lights the old man up. Yes — another Van Damme movie where someone is covered with gasoline and lit ablaze.

After Billy dies, Kyle realizes that he must win the battle for his own inner peace and once again become the man he was before this all happened. He refuses to fight and gets hung outside the prison by his arms, because this is a JCVD movie and some inner demons want us to see him be tortured for our sins.

Kyle is supposed to fight the giant Miloc, but he ends up communicating with him and they start a riot. Yes, a Van Damme movie that somehow is about dudes learning to talk to other dudes about their issues rather than repeatedly kicking one another in the face. I’m as surprised as you are.

You can watch this for free on Tubi or Vudu.

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