In Hell  (2003)

I have never been a fan of Jean Claude Van Damme's movies as he is a poor actor overall but this is without question his best to date.  While normally associated with martial arts he is just a normal guy in this movie.  It is a prison break movie like "The Shawshank Redemption" only far more violent and disturbing.

An American man called Kyle is working in Russia in the steel industry when his wife is killed by a murderer before he can prevent it and after being denied justice he shoots dead the murderer, who was not found guilty in court and ends up sentenced to a lifetime in Kravavi Prison without parole.  Only Hell can describe it.


While having to deal with brutal murder of his wife in his memory, he faces a world that is a war zone both in and out, riddled with inhumanly sadistic and greedy wardens and general, slave work, feuding Russian mafia gangs and prison rape.  We see a weak young man who ended up in prison for crashing a car forced to experience brutal rape by a monstrous inmate for the financial benefit of the guards routinely.  We see extremely bloody set up fights to the death called Sparka, arranged by the guards for entertainment and gambling, umpired by transvestites.


Kyle after being threatened by Andre the rapist who says he will make him his favourite  Suka  or bitch and being subject to weeks in the  Hole, where the prison's sanitation ends up trains himself to be a super fighter and after savagely mauling Andre must avoid losing himself completely to being a beast.  Only his dead wife and a butterfly can keep him sane.


This film certainly raised awareness of just how bad prison can be.  It does a good job of demonising Russians and indeed the good and the evil men are equal overall.  The dangerous black cell mate (Lawrence Taylor), who is known for snipping the tongues off those who talk to much befriends, giving advice and ultimately helps Kyle escape and appears to have suffered sexual abuse as a child.  The only woman in the film is Kyle s only sense of light and goodness and his only motivation.  Though there were some harlots whom the general kept who watched the bloody fights with satisfaction.

The poor young guy, who was raped routinely to the point where he risked torture, water python and rifle to escape from hell sent a tremor of sadness and rage at how my dictionary still defines rape as a woman being forced to have sex against her will only.

This movie is extremely violent and is not for the faint of heart.
                    -Reviewed by Mr. Doesn'tGiveaDamn

Runtime:  93min [UK] 96min [US] 
Certification: US:R,  UK:18 for extreme violence and rape
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Stars indicate entertainment value (out of a maximum of five stars).

Pro-male content and honest treatment of aspects of men's lives.

Male-bashing & negative stereotypes (puking).