By Clint Morris

Jean-Claude Van Damme is still trapped in the Snakes and ladders grid it seems.

And with “Dragon Eyes”, he slips back a couple of places. Again.

Just when things looked like they were looking up for the fallen action star, what with the very pleasing “Universal Soldier Regeneration” and the showy “Expendables 2″ bad guy role, along comes another cheap chop-suey bore to remind us just how long ago 1994 and Planet Hollywood opening nights was.

Don’t be fooled by the Joel Silver credit on the back cover; the producer of such action blockbusters as “Lethal Weapon” and “Matrix” was merely holding the funnel that transferred cash into this pup (and judging by the locales, film stock and stunt work, the funnel didn’t catch much money).

One of many new efforts from Silver and Courtney Solomon’s After Dark Action label, “Dragon Eyes” is – as I imagine the rest of the films coming from the shingle are or will be – just an exercise to see how much money can be made from something put together faster and cheaper than an Asian bargain store ‘transformers’ toy knock off.

A poor man’s ”Yojimbo”, “Dragon Eyes” is – luckily for Van Damme, I guess – more of a Cung Le vehicle. He’s the lone hero out to get revenge, using his quick-moving legs to bring down a town of trash. Van Damme pops up as a mentor type – its a turn that screams “you pay cash? I take it!”.

Martial arts aficionados might be interested in studying the flexibility and fastidious of Mr Le, or to admire the ageing Van Damme’s ability to still lift a leg, but nothing in here for anyone outside of the martial-arts weekly newsletter list.

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