In Hell

In Hell

DVD cover
Directed by Ringo Lam
Produced by
  • Danny Lerner
  • John Thompson
  • David Varod
Written by
  • Eric James Virgets
  • Jorge Alvarez
  • Steve Latshaw
  • Les Weldon
Music by Alexander Bubenheim
Cinematography John B. Aronson
Edited by David M. Richardson
  • 777 Films Corporation
  • Millennium Films
  • Nu Image
Distributed by Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
Release dates
  • November 25, 2003 (2003-11-25)
Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English

In Hell is a 2003 American prison action film directed by Ringo Lam. It stars Jean-Claude Van Damme and Lawrence Taylor.[1] It is the third and final collaboration between Jean-Claude Van Damme and Hong Kong film director Ringo Lam.


Kyle LeBlanc is an American working overseas in Russia. When his wife is attacked, Kyle rushes home. Kovich, the man who has killed his wife, buys the judge and is found not guilty for lack of evidence. Kyle takes the law into his own hands and kills Kovich, and for this he is sentenced to life in prison without parole. He soon befriends inmate Billy Cooper, a 21-year-old who is subjected to constant rape and beatings by prison inmates with the assistance of the guards, and Malakai, a wheelchair-bound prisoner who claims to know the ins and outs of prison life.

After getting into a brawl with an inmate who provoked him in a way similar to his wife's murderer, Kyle is put in solitary confinement. Then he is transferred to a cell with Inmate 451, who has the reputation of killing inmates, and the sadistic head of the guards believes he will do the same to Kyle. However, over time they begin to trust one another.

The warden amuses himself by betting on organized fights between his prisoners to fill his pockets. After savagely killing another prisoner in his first fight, Kyle is continuously forced into more because the warden and guards know he is a sure thing, and slowly he begins to lose his sanity. At one point 451 asks him, "Do you even know who you are? Probably not." Meanwhile, Billy attempts multiple times to escape the prison, first by running during outside work detail, and again by sneaking off during the Russian Independence Day celebration; the latter fails as he is betrayed by Malakai, who informs the guards because his need of special medicine. 451 discovers his betrayal, and in retaliation, pours lighter fluid on him and sets him on fire.

After Billy is locked in a cell with prison fighter Valya overnight, Billy is beaten to within an inch of his life after he spits in Valya's face. Billy later succumbs to his injuries, but before he dies, he whispers to Kyle, "Don't let them make you become something you're not." With this advice, Kyle now knows he must fight another battle: the fight for inner peace, as it is the only way he can become the man he once was. Kyle refuses to fight in the next match, and as a result, is hung by his arms outside for all to see. However, seeing Kyle's courage and his ability to stay strong during his punishment, the other inmates begin to follow suit by refusing to fight. Kyle is released soon from his restraints and is forced into a fight with Miloc, a gargantuan prisoner kept separate from the general population who Kyle kept hearing through the walls from his time in solitary confinement. During the fight, Kyle knocks on a door repeatedly, making Miloc recognize him, as this was his only form of communication, and he embraces him as a friend. The two then turn on the guards and ignite a full-scale riot, during which Miloc is killed by gunfire.

Soon, 451 gives Kyle the evidence of all the murders that have happened in this prison for the past 20 something years that he had planned to expose to the US government. While the guards are getting the prisoners under control, 451 shows Kyle a secret passage to the prison garage for their next move. Kyle participates in one final fight, which he wins, but the guards have indicated they will kill him afterward. When two guards take Kyle to the garage, 451 launches an attack and kills one of them while Kyle holds the other at gunpoint and pins him down to the ground. After taking the key to free himself, Kyle takes one of the guards' uniforms to disguise himself and drives off in one of their cars while 451 stays behind to assassinate the warden for his misdeeds. His fate is unknown, but Kyle returns to the US and expose the prison's actions. Three months later, the prison is shut down.



Columbia TriStar released the DVD in the United States on November 25, 2003.[2]


Robert Pardi of TV Guide rated it 1/5 stars and called it a "pokey exercise in cellblock sadism" that does not live up Lam's previous work.[3] Jason P. Vargo of IGN rated it 5/10 stars and wrote that it is "strictly for Van Damme fans only".[4] Beyond Hollywood wrote that although the film has many stock characters, it enjoyably plays on the usual conventions of a Van Damme film.[5] Ian Jane of DVD Talk rated it 3/5 stars and called it "a pleasant surprise" and the best of Van Damme's recent films.[2] David Johnson of DVD Verdict wrote that although the film attempts to bring a new facet to Van Damme's films, it only ends up being cliched in different ways than his usual films.[6]


  1. Cooper, Tracie. "In Hell". Allmovie. Retrieved September 4, 2012.
  2. 1 2 Jane, Ian (2003-11-21). "In Hell". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
  3. Pardi, Robert. "In Hell". TV Guide. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
  4. Vargo, Jason P. (2008-12-29). "In Hell DVD Review". IGN. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
  5. "In Hell (2003) Movie Review". Beyond Hollywood. 2003-12-06. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
  6. Johnson, David (2003-12-10). "In Hell". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2016-01-11.

External links

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