I went into the film not expecting a whole lot but actually came away fairly surprised. After being subjected to several very poor films starring professional wrestlers (THE MARINE and 12 ROUNDS come immediately to mind), I didn't have much hope for this film either, but DAMAGE actually managed to be a somewhat respectable film that is miles better than just about every other film starring a professional wrestler not named Dwayne Johnson.
Having seen Steve Austin in various other projects, namely the TV show CHUCK, I was simply expecting him to play a similar character, one that would just go through the underground fighting circuit with a smile on his face and seemingly enjoying every moment of it. Austin actually manages to bring something to the role, though, signaling that he actually has some acting talent and could become a respectable figure in the action genre down the line. I would say that he's not quite there yet, and of the main trio of actors here, he's the weakest, but he shows some flashes here that will hopefully get him more work in bigger projects down the line.
The other two actors that make up the trio of main characters are Walton Goggins and Laura Vandervoort. Goggins plays the high-strung fight promoter with ease, delivering the audience a nice foil for Austin's Brickner, as the two men are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Vandervoort, of V and SMALLVILLE fame, proves here that she can be more than just a supporting TV actress. She's clearly got some talent and anchors the emotional core of this film quite well and certainly delivers a better performance than a straight-to-dvd really needs or deserves. Like Austin, hopefully she'll start landing some bigger roles here soon as her work here and, to a larger degree, on shows like V proves that she has the talent.
Surprisingly, where DAMAGE falters a bit is in the fight sequences. They're entertaining (if they weren't, the film wouldn't really work at all) and are staged against some rather interesting and diverse backdrops, but they all follow a similar format (Austin's character having to come back from the brink of defeat to win the match). A little variety in this are would have been nice.
DAMAGE is clearly a straight-to-dvd film and that definitely shows in the quality of it, but it manages to maintain itself at the upper echelon of the straight-to-dvd "genre", thanks in large parts to the efforts of Goggins and Vandervoort. It's not ever going to win any kind of award, but for a rainy day stuck in the house, there are worse things that you could watch.