"Fuck the border." - Jack Robideaux
Growing up when action films were at the height of their ridiculousness spoiled me. This is one of the many reasons that when the heroes of my youth began doing direct to home video films, it was hard not to be crushed in some ways. Each of these films are still fun and goofy on their own, but its not quite the same as the big budget ass kickers they used to headline. "The Shepherd: Border Patrol" is one of those films where its lead basically has to carry it the entire time and with Jean Claude on autopilot, it leaves this cop on a vengeance film out in the desert for the vultures.
Jack Robideaux (Van Damme) is a cop transferring from the streets of New Orleans to the border patrol facilities of a small New Mexican town. He motives unclear, his scarred psyche and pet rabbit, Jack, are all he seems to carry with him. When a group of ex-Special Forces militants look to smuggle loads of heroin in from Mexico, its up to new man Jack to take his fists, feet, and guns into the fight...
|Van Damme and his Van Damme rabbit.|
It's actually quite humorous at just how incredibly cliche this film is for the genre. Literally, every little detail one should expect from an action film is clearly on display here. The anti-hero with hidden agendas for bringing some justice to a small unlawful town. The power female lead who begins as a tough as nails individual but must eventually team up with the anti-hero for the greater good. The group of villains sponsored by rogue foreigners trying to lay their own groundwork. They even have the silly buddy partner who smarts off. It's as if "The Shepherd" took the ABC's of action films too seriously and tried not to deviate from what has proven to work. It certainly makes the film very
predictable with its simple story and characters.
|Jack lends a helping hand to the locals.|
That's to be expected though from a film like "The Shepherd". Unfortunately, it sits nice and steady in the B-grade area of film making to be anything more than that. Van Damme seems on autopilot through most of the film and even a great villain henchman played by Scott Adkins can't save the film (despite having a fight between the two! The first of many to come later in various other films). Director Florentine does his best to add in artistic touches, but you can only do slow motion so much before it just gets irritating. And boy does the slow motion get that way. Not only that, but the low budget of the film and its poor directing overall just undermine the entire experience. Not what one wants from an action film ever.
|It takes two to tango. It also takes two to kick one another's asses.|
There are only two real highlights to this film: the fight between Van Damme and Adkins and the ridiculousness that his pet rabbit adds. It's the best pet for an action hero since Norris had the armadillo. Beyond that though, "The Shepherd" plods along with miniscule plot and characters that only seem relevant when its just cliche enough. Go pick up "Assassination Games" or wait for the new "Universal Soldier" film for better Van Damme/Adkins combinations.
Written By Matt Reifschneider
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