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In Hell Reviews

The titular hell is this action film's prison locale, and viewers will feel suitably condemned. Former Louisiana resident Kyle LeBlanc (Jean-Claude van Damme) is living in Russia and toiling as a steelworker. While driving home, he calls his homesick wife, Grey (Marnie Alton), from his cell phone. To his horror, Kyle listens in as a rapist assaults and murders Grey in their Magnitogorsk apartment. The well-connected murderer beats the rap and frustrated Kyle kills him. Taking a dim view of Kyle’s vigilantism, a judge sentences him to hard labor at notorious Kravavi Prison. On his first day, a guard snatches Kyle's precious wedding ring; Kravavi is the sort of institution where no-one Intervenes when imprisoned gangster Andrei (Raicho Vasilev) sodomizes new fish Billy Cooper (Chris Moir). The warden of this military-run penitentiary, General Hruschov (Lloyd Battista), cares only about the extreme fighting matches he promotes with the corrupt officers of other penal institutions. Initially, Kyle backs down from conflict and is tossed into solitary. When he defies the status quo, guards toss him into the cell of Prisoner 451 (Lawrence Taylor), who killed his last three cellmates. Kyle eventually toughens up enough to catch the warden's eye and become a competitive boxer. Although Kyle defeats Andrei in a grudge match, he must next square off against the mountainous Valya (Michael Bailey Smith). Instead of killing him, Prisoner 451 becomes Kyle's mentor and encourages him to participate in a riot/breakout. While Prisoner 451 metes justice out to the Warden, can Kyle must try to escape Russia's answer to Alcatraz. Though he looks somewhat the worse for wear, Van Damme can still execute some tricky moves. It's hard to believe that this pokey exercise in cellblock sadism is the work of martial arts maven Ringo Lam, but in his defense screenwriters Eric James Virgets and Jorge Alvarez didn't give him much with which to work.