Our film follows multiple characters who become connected. Starting with a war veteran named Daniel (Jean Claude Van Damme). Daniel is new to the neighbourhood and requires drugs which helps him deal with his wounds from fighting wars in the past. He is also unable to speak due to his injuries. Daniel can communicate with others by using his mobile phone device.
Delivering the drugs regularly to Daniel is a young teenager named Lucas (Elijah Rodriguez). Lucas works for one of the most dangerous street gangs in the city. But things change with Lucas when his little brother begins to express interest in going down the same path as Lucas working for dangerous and violent gangs. Naturally, this is not the type of life Lucas wants for his little brother and will do anything to protect him.
The world of We Die Young is extremely gritty. While it might seem fitting, viewers please be warned. Some elements in this film might be too much for a viewer to find enjoyment. I am referring to the general content that is the world of gangs and how the film tries to push its limits to try and be realistic. Young Children getting into fights or even seeing an animal get brutally murdered are just some examples as to what I am referring to.
Performances are generally enjoyable particularly from Van Damme and Elijah Rodriguez. Jean Claude Van Damme is also tackling a role that’s different and unexpected. A wounded man who later feels called to protect the young boys is something we’ve yet to see from the actor within his career. The film is at its strongest point when Van Damme is sharing the screen when the young characters he interacts with. If your hoping to see some Van Damme roundhouse kicks and hard punches, you will also be disappointed as this film is more focused on telling a dramatic story and rather an action-packed one.
The filming style of “We Die Young” is possibly some of the worst I have seen in some time. Trying to enjoy a scene with a camera style that consistently moving all over the place was not only distracting me but at one point I was tempted to stop the film as it was making me feel unwell. This style of filming might be appealing and appropriate for some but for me it was too much.
Overall, Jean Claude Van Damme tackles a role which I feel is completely different and unexpected. While performances are positive in this gritty story, the filming style of We Die Young was almost unbearable. Perhaps this was done to try and build tension and give a realistic look when it comes to violent gangs. But as a film, this was the biggest weakness for me. Story sounds great on paper but screen, I also felt disconnected at times which would also occur on and off throughout the film’s duration.
We Die Young (2018) is Now Available on DVD
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Review Written by Peter Walkden