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Jean-Claude Van Damme stars in "Darkness of Man" (2024)

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“Darkness of Man” Plot Summary

“Darkness of Man” may appear like another low-budget action movie starring an aging action star, but there’s more heart and passion put into the story than the dime-a-dozen action flicks. Directed and co-written by James Cull Bressack, with another co-writing credit and starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, “Darkness of Man” puts story and character above the punches and guns.

We first meet Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Russell Hatch, facing the barrel of a gun. Our hard-boiled narrator rips through lines like in the most cynical noir movies. But we’re taken back two years prior in Miami, where we learn Russell Hatch developed a romance with Ester, an informant whose life is in danger. She meets a gruesome end, but Russell swears to take care of her son, Jayden (Emerson Min). 

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Jean-Claude Van Damme stars in “Darkness of Man” (2024)

Years later, Russell is an alcoholic and spends his days with a bottle, slurring advice to Jayden. But when he learns Jayden and his family may be in trouble with a Russian mob, Russell swears to protect them and put an end to this danger. He may be older and take many trips to the hospital, but nothing will stop this old man from bringing justice to Jayden’s family.

You may get lost in the convoluted plot details about Korean and Russian gangs. You may laugh at some of the acting or narration that borders on noir parody. Heck, you may not be all that impressed with the action sequences. “Darkness of Man” remains a cut above basic action movies because the movie star actually tries and the script gives its characters something to do. If you have to choose an action movie to turn your brain off to, spend time with “Darkness of Man.”

Content Information

“Darkness of Man” is rated R due to strong violence, profanity, drug content, and some sexual references.

Other Noteworthy Information

  1. James Cullen Bressack has made and worked with a number of aging action stars in lower budget movies, including Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal, and Mel Gibson. 

“Darkness of Man” General Information

Darkness of Man.jpg

Director James Cullen Bressack
Screenplay By James Cullen Bressack, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Alethea Cho
Date Released May 21, 2024
How To Watch Video On Demand
Genre(s) Action


Film Length Hour  Minutes
Content Rating Rated R
Noted Characters and Cast
Russell Hatch Jean-Claude Van Damme
Jayden Emerson Min
Claire Kristanna Loken
Chris Spencer Breslin
Dae Hyun Peter Jae

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Russell Hatch (Jean-Claude Van Damme)

Russell Hatch is a former Interpol operative who’s haunted by his past. He’s grieving and heavy with guilt over the death of an informant and lover. While he spends his days drinking, he finds motivation to protect those he loves when the informant’s family is in danger.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Bloodsport.”

Jayden (Emerson Min)

Jayden is the son of Ester, the woman whom Russell failed to protect. As a teen, Jayden is frustrated and turns to crime to find an escape. His involvement with a gang gives him belonging, but his life is more in danger than he knows.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Blackish.”

Claire (Kristanna Loken)

Claire is Russell’s current girlfriend. At first, she seems like someone only interested in sex with him. But she cares for Russell and is concerned with his increasing injuries.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.”
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Claire (Kristanna Loken) and Russell (Jean-Claude Van Damme) together in “Darkness of Man” (2024)

Chris (Spencer Breslin)

Chris is Russell’s drug-dealing and partying neighbor. He’s harmless and provides some insight into crime kings in their area. Chris and Russell even take a liking to each other. 

  • The actor is also known for their role in “The Kid.”

Dae Hyun (Peter Jae)

Dae is Jayden’s cousin and the leader of a Korean gang. Dangerous, ruthless, and conniving, Dae is also responsible for the death of Jayden’s father. 

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Bosch.”

“Darkness of Man” Review

Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive)

Let us know your thoughts in the comments:

  1. What did you think of “Darkness of Man”? How does it hold up against other small budget action movies? 


An Emphasis on Character and Protagonist Development

“Darkness of Man” spends its first act with minimal violence and an exploration of Russell’s life. The first 30 minutes are crucial in setting up Russell’s relationships and understanding who the man is. We invest more in the action and stakes because of this. Supporting characters who could have easily been 2-dimensional (like Claire and Chris) are given sweet turning points and create a tiny community we want to see win. 

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Low Points

Korean and Russian Gang Backstory is Confusing

On the simplest level, “Darkness of Man” is about a man who saves a kid. But in order to get there, the story includes twists about Jayden’s parents, betrayals, police investigations, and a lot more that went over this humble viewer’s head. You may be riveted by the plot, but it seems pointlessly messy when the heart of the story is about a man and a kid. 

On The Fence

Stiff Acting Limits Drama

Many scenes that needed tension were limited by the acting. Whether it was people who do not normally act or people who aren’t native English speakers, while they may be able to say the lines, any gravitas, malice, or charm is lost. 

Good If You Like

  • Jean-Claude Van Damm movies, crime noir stories. 


If you like this movie, we recommend:

  1. The Killer
  2. The Brothers Sun
  3. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Check out our movies page for our latest movie reviews and recommendations.

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Darkness of Man (2024) Review – A Solid Action Flick
You may get lost in the convoluted plot details, but “Darkness of Man” remains a cut above basic action movies because the movie star actually tries.
Community Rating0 Votes
An Emphasis on Character and Protagonist Development
Korean and Russian Gang Backstory is Confusing
Stiff Acting Limits Drama

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