Following his butt-kicking self-confession in “JCVD,” Van Damme is back yet again, this time on both sides of the camera as well as in the editing suite (where he’s tripping out a la Godard) in psycho-actioner “The Eagle Path.” For a good hour, the pic plays like a forgettable ’80s thriller with the “Bloodsport” star saving a hooker from a horde of Thai thugs. But things take a wild turn in the closing reels, which combine gory shootouts with Freudian-themed montages that feature JCVD trying to outrival JLG, resulting in a DTV item that will interest only diehard fans.
There’s something earnestly off-the-wall in this first directorial effort from the 49-year-old Belgian. Both a throwaway revenge pic and an artsy unveiling of inner traumas, “The Eagle Path” feels as if Van Damme can’t shake his roots in B-grade combat films and is doing his ultimate fighting best to remake them as a European auteur. What results is borderline unwatchable, even if the star puts his all into the role of Frenchie, a Vietnam vet overcome by memories of an abusive father. Apart from the Soviet-style editing, tech is shoot-’em-up standard.