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Monday, 30 October 2017

Retro Review: Double Impact (1991)

Double Impact
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Geoffrey Lewis, Alonna Shaw, Cory Everson, Bolo Yeung
Genre: Action
U.S Box Office Gross: over $30 million  

Plot: Twin brothers are separated when their parents are murdered, but 25 years later they reunite to avenge their parents' death

'Double Trouble'

Co-produced & co-written by Jean-Claude Van Damme, Double Impact is a martial arts- based action flick with Jean-Claude Van Damme playing dual roles as twin brothers, Alex and Chad. This is Van Damme's second movie with Sheldon Lettich, following on from Lionheart. Whilst many of his films leave a lot to be desired and that he lacks the massive box office draw and appeal of Arnold Schwarzenegger, movies such as Timecop, Bloodsport and Hard Target still reign as the Muscles from Brussels finest outings. 1991's Double Impact is not too far behind of the pack; in fact, this is an entertaining and enjoyable fight fest, backed up by an interesting plot.

The movie that finally broke the mould for Van Damme in the 1990s, Double Impact is noted as his first proper mainstream studio-based movie, courtesy of Columbia Pictures. Interestingly also, actor Michael Douglas has a hand in the production duties. 

Chad and Alex become separated as babies after their parents are murdered by a Chinese mafia on the orders of a rich businessman going by the name of Griffith: fast forward years later and broody Alex is raised on the streets of Hong Kong, with laid-back Chad raised by his parents' bodyguard/guardian, Frank, whilst also plying his trade as a martial arts teacher in L.A. When the pair reunite whilst in Hong Kong after Chad's foster parent, Frank takes him to Hong Kong, they swear to exact vengeance on Griffith and mob boss, Zhang. 

Yet despite the plot, the drama aspect became too drawn out and tedious as it went on and the attempts at humour fall flat somewhat, although some of the action was overly decent.  

At almost 2 hours, the film feels way overlong but it appears as though this was a taster of what was to come in Hard Target and Double Impact, as entertaining in parts as it was, comes nowhere near as great as the John Woo classic that arrived, 2 years later, which easily surpasses this effort. 

The villains are an interesting bunch with the hulking presence of Bolo Yeung and Cory Everson as the intimidating Kara being serviceable, the shoot-outs are akin to John Woo's films and the film is as derivative as they come. It has the feel of a straight-to-DVD martial arts action flick, but with Double Impact, at the same time, it is as if a legitimate amount of effort was put in to make it overly decent. The action is pretty good and solid, but not breathtaking or anywhere as imaginative and daring, although the subplot involving Chad's girlfriend, Danielle (whose performance by Alonna Shaw virtually did nothing for me), Chad and Alex, and the glorified softcore love scene was wasteful and the film could have functioned without it. The other scene with the action villain, Kara and the suggested lesbian molestation towards Chad's girlfriend was unexpected, yet it feels cheap & undignified. 

Other than that, this is a mindless yet entertaining action fest. 

Final Verdict:

Still a firm favourite with many of his fans, Double Impact is twice the action with double the Van Dammes and the action is good.

Although personally, his best film is still Hard Target by a longshot. But Double Impact is definitely one of his fewest and briefest onscreen glories as an action movie star & by surrounding him with a good crew, who can bring the best out of his (limited) range, in Van Damme & this movie, & what you get out of it is something that is sufficient and not too shabby for a film of this genre. 


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