Most fans of Belgium beefcake Jean-Claude Van Damme will agree that the sweet spot for the man’s best work was from 1988-1995. Of all the “classic” Van Damme flicks, Nowhere to Run is often overlooked and under-appreciated. This was the most polished of the Van Damme vehicles released up to that point. A screenplay and story credited to writers Joe Eszterhas and the film’s initial director Richard Marquand, and sharp cinematography by David Gribble propel this Shane-wannabe out of the realm of kickboxing pictures and into the more respectable action-thriller genre.
Sam (Van Damme) is a prison escapee on the run. He’s hiding out in a remote beautiful woodsy area. One night he stumbles into the house of a beautiful young widow (Rosanna Arquette) and steals on salt of his fire roasted supper. The lady’s young boy Mookie (Kieran Culkin) thinks it’s E.T. come to visit like in the movies he watches. The next evening Mookie goes looking for the alien only to find the camp site of the escapee.
Missing a father figure the kid takes an immediate liking to Sam. Inviting him over for dinner and integrating him into his mother’s life. Meanwhile, a ruthless real estate developer and his henchmen are trying to force the woman and her family off the land. Sam is the right man at the right place to help her fight against the criminals and keep her home. That’s unless anyone finds out Sam’s true identity and past.
Nowhere to Run lacks the kind of action that most have come to expect from an early Jean-Claude Van Damme film. It’s more interested in the relationship between the criminal and the young boy. Strong supporting work from Ted Levine as another oddball villain and Joss Ackland as another slimy accented villain give the film a weight it wouldn’t otherwise have. Nowhere to Run represents a step-up in class and the launching pad into legitimate studio films for the star Van Damme.
Director: Robert Harmon
Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Rosanna Arquette, Kieran Culkin