Desert Heat aka Inferno (1999) – Jean-Claude Van Damme

Inferno (also released as Desert Heat) is a simple story exhibiting classic Van Damme, as plays Eddie Lomax, a man ready to die, who rolls into a town called Inferno, somewhere in the Old West, to visit an old friend, an Native American Indian man called Johnny Six Toes, played by Danny Trejo, to deliver him a gift – an Indian motorcycle – and to ask for his blessing in ending his life. Unfortunately, before the gift could be delivered, the bike got stolen and Eddie nearly killed in the process. So Eddie stays in town for a bit longer, to deal with the thieves, and in the process, deals with two large gangs of thugs, while making some good friends and finding a woman he loves.

Van Damme is his usual self, convincing and entertaining in his role as Eddie Lomax, and he’s blessed with a decent script here – it’s no stunner but it’s sufficient for his essence to come out quite well on screen. Van Damme looks consistently cool, and there’s a nice injection of humour from time to time.

Danny Trejo does a decent job as Johnny Six Toes, the Indian man who is Eddie’s old friend. Since Eddie saved Johnny’s life a long time ago, the two have become spiritually joined at the hip.

The lead female role, Rhonda Reynolds, the local diner’s chef who becomes Eddie’s girlfriend by the end, is played by Gabrielle Fitzpatrick – she does a decent job – quite convincing.

We’re also blessed with a strong supporting role played by Pat Morita (better known as Mr Miyagi from The Karate Kid). In this movie he’s getting on a bit, but still does well in the character of a patient, positive & helpful old man.

I would say this movie is about average in Van Damme’s overall filmography. It’s not on the level of Bloodsport or The Quest but is not far behind. He’s in his prime here, and is backed by a decent cast. It’s better than a lot of the cheaper straight-to-video movies he’s made throughout his busy career – most of which are still classics nevertheless.