The Shepherd: Border Patrol (2008)
By: Devon B. on June 17, 2012  | 
Sony (UK) | Region 2, PAL | 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 5.1 | 91 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Isaac Florentine
Starring: Jean Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins, Stephen Lord, Gary McDonald
Screenplay: Joe Gayton, Cade Courtley
Country: USA
External Links
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The Shepherd: Border Patrol wastes no time in establishing that its star Jean Claude Van Damme is a hero. First, we know he's a good guy 'cause he has an American flag on his rabbit cage. Secondly, we know he's a bit of a nature lover because he shares a carrot with the rabbit. This also establishes that Van Damme is no namby pamby germophobe, which is good because how can he keep the border patrolled if he's too busy worrying about touching doors or keeping a filter over his face? He couldn't, which is why the nation needs a tough guy like Van Damme defending it.

Van Damme's recently been transferred to border patrol, and he's picked a bad time for the change because some mercenaries suffering from post war stress have taken to running drugs. These mercs don't fuck around, because at Van Damme's first border crossing prevention, he encounters some unexpectedly explosive risks. The mercs have taken to sending their drugs on C-4 stacked mules. I'm not sure why they do this, I must've missed that plot point, but if Van Damme stops the wrong person at the border he could get blowed up real good. To make matters worse, his commanding officer keeps threatening to send him to New Orleans if he fucks up, and fucking up apparently includes doing police work! Van Damme establishes he has a bit of a vendetta against drug runners, which leads to him foolishly pursuing them across the border and into Mexico, but maybe he's secretly just fleeing to make sure his C.O. couldn't send him to New Orleans. This stunt lands him in a Mexican gaol where he does a brief stint as a prison fighter, like he was back In Hell. Things then come to a head between the mercs and the US government…despite the fact that the events are occurring in Mexico. Poor Mexico, having its rights trampled like that. What's the point of patrolling the border in the first place if the States is just going to take over its southern neighbour?

The Shepherd is a low budget movie, but it utilises the resources it has to provide decent production values. Van Damme is partnered with that old cliché, the black comic relief character, and his terrible jokes are actually the lowest quality thing about the movie. In general the humour, like a running coffee spill gag, doesn't work, but the jokes keep coming so clearly the screenwriters thought they were funnier than they really were. Another low point is a villain with a voice like a teenage boy, but really, aside from some boredom between fights, this isn't a bad film. Van Damme does seem to be phoning in his performance, but then he was never the best actor anyway, so that wasn't a big difference for me.

Along with the nod to In Hell, there's also a recreation of a memorable scene from Universal Soldier, but the fight is cool and Van Damme kicks through a chair he's about to be hit with to get to his opponent, which is awesome. All of the fights have some moments of high impact, and they make the less interesting moments of the film worth enduring.

The Shepherd is not Van Damme's best, but this direct to video movie is better than some of his theatrical releases.
The transfer's usually solid, but there're a few specks and a bit of black crush. It's a newer movie, so for the most part it's sharp and clear.
Audio is available in 5.1 tracks in a variety of languages, all of which seemed of similar quality as I flipped through them. This is a decent track for a low budget action flick, with bullets flying and explosions.exploding.
Extra Features
Like my other Fight Factory DVDs, this comes in an orange case that I think is meant to represent a firey explosion.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
I like the idea of someone from Belgium who arrived in the States with dubious residential status now worrying about illegal immigrants. The Shepherd probably won't win Van Damme any new fans, but it should please his already established ones.

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