This past Saturday afternoon before going into work on the recommendation of Sir Large William of The Gentlemen's Guide to Midnite Cinema, I threw together a cool little double feature of two films I had never seen despite being somewhat familiar with similar films. The second, and one I will review next, is an Indonesian ripoff called Lady Terminator.
The first film I watched...
Original Title: Double Impact
Director: Sheldon Lettich
Writer: Sheldon Lettich, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes
Jean Claude Van Damme plays a dual role as Alex and Chad, twins separated at the death of their parents. Chad is raised by a family retainer in Paris, Alex becomes a petty crook in Hong Kong. Seeing a picture of Alex, Chad rejoins him and convinces him that his rival in Hong Kong is also the man who killed their parents. Alex is suspicious of Chad, especially when it comes to his girlfriend.
By the time the 90s rolled around, I went to high school, got a car, etc. and became too cool for awhile for action flicks and the like. It's a shame I was such a fickle young lad, as I missed out on some decent movies that were still coming out then. It wasn't probably until I went and saw Escape From L.A. at the theater in college that I started to sway back to my old standbys, but even then I was getting more into arthouse cinema and stuff like that because I had never been exposed to really much of anything outside standard multiplex and video store fare in my small hometown.
So my Jean-Claude experience essentially stopped with the 80s. Praise the lord for the internets and my resurgent interest in all things genre! Will suggested I check this one out, and I'm glad I did.
If only he had banged himself, the dream would be as near reality as possible I think.
What, too obvious?
Welcome to the motherfuckin Jean-Claude show, bitches!
Van Damme plays douchebag Chad and asshole Alex. Chad and Alex are the twin sons separated at birth as their parents, who have played an integral role in the construction of the tunnel connecting China and Hong Kong. Their parents are murdered in a plot to gain exclusive control of the revenue from the tunnel, but a nanny rescues Alex and a bodyguard Frank (Geoffrey Lewis) rescues Chad before they are shot as well.
I love how the Van Damme's accent is explained in a sense in this film. The babies have British parents, but obviously they aren't going to be teaching these kids anything anytime soon except how to feed worms. So...as the nanny rescues Alex, she drops him on the doorstep of a French mission/orphanage where we assume he is then raised. GENIUS!
And Frank takes Chad with him... and RAISES HIM IN PARIS!
OF COURSE! Hey, most of the time with these films, and with Arnie's films as well, you'll just get a dude named John Jackson with an obviously non-American accent and never acknowledge it at all. So I am thankful this little bit is in here, whether or not it is kind of a sly joke.
So now that the accent shit is out of the way, we can get down to brass tacks. Or maybe it's brass buttons...
Van Damme seemed to have a lot of fun in these dual roles, and honestly didn't do a terrible job. I mean, he was never going to win any awards for his performances here, but I enjoyed the differences he brought out between the two brothers. Chad is a bit of a ladies man, and dresses very preppy (late 1980s style). They have a sense of humor about his clothing, as several characters make comments about the way he is dressed. Chad revels in his martial arts abilities and seems confident enough to wear leg warmers and spandex because he's gonna get ass regardless. I only wish they had him stay kind of cocky this way throughout the film. At times later on, he seems goofy, clumsy, nerdy, but I suppose the purpose here was to show the pampered Chad feeling very out of his element.
Alex was a street tough criminal from the streets of Hong Kong. Here Van Damme chewed on a cigar constantly and loved to wear black. The best part of this character I thought were the action sequences he was involved in. Anyone familiar at all with JCVD knows quite well that he takes any and all chances to show how high he can kick, how low he can split, and how sweaty he can get his abs. But the Alex character had to be essentially untrained in martial arts. He prefers a pistol to a kick, and when it does come down to hand-to-hand, it was cool to see Van Damme just have to do it dirty street brawl style.
The way the two of them are handled together and still kept separate was done decently. They did have to rely on some special effects in editing a couple times that look quite dated now, but having the characters wear different hairstyles helped to tell them apart most of the time... Alex with his greased back look and Chad with his gelled curls. They could have both characters on screen by showing the back of the other at the time or even have one in shadow in the background... little tricks used many times in films where one actor would play two roles.
Thank god they never did the mirror trick where neither character could cross the center of the frame!
Geoffrey Lewis was solid, but I didn't feel he was all that different from what I have seen him in in the past. Which isn't a bad thing... just an observation really. The man has been in tons of stuff that I know I have seen and cannot think of any of it off hand. He was in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot which I really need to sit down and watch one of these days.
As for Alex's lady friend Danielle (Alonna Shaw).... well, let's just say at least she shows her tits. Granted they are fake as hell and displayed mostly in a highly tacky sex scene with JCVD (colored lights, ridiculous positions, and all), but who am I to complain about a lovely lady showing the goods? She's not very good in her role, but what can you do?
Usually it's Van Damme showing his goods, so I'll say good on her!
Then there is Kara.
Kara is one of those chicks you just can't tell if you find hot or not.
I mean she's built. Really built.
Or does she kinda look like a dude?
Or is that why she is hot?
I'm so confused.
Cory Everson's her name, and pumping motherfuckin iron is her game. A former Ms. Olympia, she's nota great actress, but I thought the character was an interesting addition given the usual role that women usually seem to have in Asian locales in film (prostitute, stripper, hysterical bystander). She is one tough chick, wears leather constantly, and will stab you in the face. She's obviously here for her look and to show off those cut legs as she takes a life.
She's like Cynthia Rothrock hot.
Bolo Yeung appearance. This crazy big, crazy tittied, crazy looking dude popped up in a couple Van Damme flicks and hardly says anything. I don't think he said anything at all here actually. I'm kinda shocked actually to find out that he was over 50 years old when he made this film!
The story in Double Impact for me honestly felt a little forced. I'm almost certain I have said this about other films I have reviewed here, but what this felt like was more a vehicle for double the Van Damme silliness and sweatiness, and Bolo showing off his giant moobs. It is void of twists or really any advanced storytelling... it's simply a revenge plot. The twist I suppose is that the people seeking revenge are twins. The way it is handled, though, doesn't seem to give Alex and Chad enough motive to track down these high-up criminals. Yes, their parents were killed, but the two of them did not know their parents at all. They are just now going on an old bald dude telling them they need to come get the shit that belongs to them.
There's not much style in Lettich's presentation of the story as well. All is pretty straight forward, as many action films are particularly from this era. Outside of a few cool camera angles, a decent foot chase that goes across the decks of docked boats, and little things like this, there's nothing really all that special about any of it. We are taken from point A to point B on a pretty straight path.
And the humor injected here would get tired pretty quickly. I laughed more at Van Damme impressing ladies in the gym at the beginning than I did at him slipping and falling on bird shit in an abandoned hotel.
But to all this I say... whatever!
If Van Damme would just high kick a barrel out of the sky, I'd leave a happy customer
Awww, thanks buddy!
Solid film... especially for JCVD fans. I'd certainly recommend it (more than users in IMDb, that's for sure)
Score: 6.75 / 10