The old adage that if you can’t say something good you shouldn’t say anything at all is a difficult for a reviewer to abide by. In the case of The Shepherd: Border Patrol starring Jean-Claude Van Damme there is precious little to compliment. The one thing that you can say is that Van Damme is in incredible shape for a 47 year old and he can still throw a kick and punch at lightning speed. Unfortunately nothing else in this tired movie holds up.
The premise is simple enough a New Orleans policeman relocates to New Mexico to work with the border patrol to help stem the flow of illegal immigrants and heroin from south of the border. If anyone buys the idea that this story takes place in New Mexico or anywhere in the continental US they need to have their grasp of geography double checked. Nothing about the setting, roads or countryside bring to mind New Mexico or Mexico flying some Mexican and U.S. flags is a weak substitute for some good location scouting. Even if the setting actually were in New Mexico that wouldn’t make up for one of the cheesiest scripts to come down the chop sockey pipe in a long time and martial arts movies are the very apex of cheesy scripts. Then there is the acting – even as a Jean-Claude Van Damme fan it is difficult to come to terms with any movie in which Van Damme is the best actor.
There are so many holes in the plot of The Shepherd (we can start with the title of the movie) that it would be close to impossible to innumerate them all. Once upon a time Jean-Claude Van Damme was the best thing in martial arts movies from Bloodsport (a cult classic which helped popularize multiple martial arts full contact events) to Universal Soldier and Time Cop the movies weren’t in danger of winning academy awards but they were the best in the genre. The Shepherd doesn’t even rate a rainy day recommendation.