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Review Inferno a.k.a. Coyote Moon a.k.a. Desert Heat (1999): Lost my patience after five minutes into this film!

genre: action, comedy, crime

There is a trailer out there that gives the impression Inferno is this underrated action flick where Jean-Claude Van Damme is kicking ass left and right. After five minutes into this, I feared the worst....

Don't let the good supporting cast fool you into thinking this is good. I can assure you it's not. But I must admit, their presence did make me stick out until the very end. But what do you get up to that point? A lot of misplaced comedy and even worse symbolism. Van Damme's interactions with Danny Trejo are incredibly confusing. At times, it seems Trejo is a ghost, then there are scenes where others see him as well. He is obviously there to guide and aid Eddie Lomax (Van Damme) who literally and figuratively has lost his way. Trejo as Johnny Sixtoes is almost a caricature. It's clear that, like Van Damme, Danny Trejo is very limited as an actor. So putting these together is a grave mistake. You see better results when Van Damme is in the vicinity of veteran actors like Bill Erwin and Pat Morita. 

But I can hear you thinking. What is chrichton on about? Why is he so focused on these interactions? Well, it's simple. The film is like 80 percent of characters interacting with each other and 20 percent action. The typical action you can expect from Van Damme but very moderate and generic. You can see hints of A Fistful of Dollars, but it's not nearly as clever or concise as that film. First, Van Damme certainly isn't Clint Eastwood. Second, Clin't character was smart. He stayed in the background whenever it was needed and let events play out. Undoubtedly, Van Damme's ego couldn't allow it for him not to be on the screen longer than five minutes, which broke the immersion.

The real mystery is why director John G. Avildsen (The Karate Kid) was even involved with this project. Or was he attached in name only, and it was Van Damme himself ghost directing. Because that would make a lot of sense. Do I really need to say that this film isn't worth your time?

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