Laughter sensation Jean Claude Van Damme (see the Highest Laughter Utilization Scene)
packs in another ridiculous performance in his latest offering. This is Van Damme's
first attempt to cash in on the black and white buddy pair ups as in Lethal Weapon,
Fled, The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Glimmer Man, and Die
Hard series. This film has less reason then those other films for it and those
viewers expecting a great rapport between the two will be disappointed (especially by
Rodman's acting.) There is only one line that I remember that sounded somewhat funny.
Rodman says: "The last guy who talked about my hair is still trying to pull his head
out of his ass." Van Damme responds, "I don't want to know about your sex
life." Most likely I laughed because you need to remember that Van Damme responds in
his accent which can be stretched to sound almost like Arnold Schwartzanegger's. Also
realize that it's about as close to a funny joke as this film gets. That in and of itself
Van Damme plays the former top counter terrorist agent for the United States. He wishes
to retire, most likely to leave his boring life in which he kills people, drives cars
through buildings, and sets things on fire. The real excitement he figures is lounging
around his pool and waiting to change baby diapers. Well, at least there's none of the
typical "two weeks till retirement" crap that we're used to. He actually does
retire immediately in the film, albeit temporarily. He is re-enlisted "one last
time" to take down Stavros, an art dealer and deadly terrorist. He fails, and as a
penalty wakes up on an island known as "The Colony" where he must spend the rest
of his days analyzing terrorist activities. Van Damme escapes, and proceeds to find
Stavros, who has kidnapped his wife and baby. Naturally he needs help, so he buddies up
with Rodman, the flashy weapons dealer. The hilarity ensues.
This film has an extremely weak plot and as in many action films, exists only as a weak
thread to tie together action scenes. Normally Double Action viewers don't mind such
weaknesses in films, but the action scenes are not quite as funny as some of his earlier
works as seen in Sudden Death or Hard Target.
The largest waste of time is the time spent at the "Colony", which is never
mentioned until he arrives and makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. It's a prison for
terrorists and spies that are too dangerous to be loose, but at the same time cannot be
killed since they harbor so much valuable information. Yeah, right. If all these guys on
the island were supposedly dead (killed in fact by someone else on the island even), then
they must not be very good at finishing their jobs, are they?
Basically the time spent at the Colony is a showcase for Van Damme to nurse himself
back to health in front of the camera without his clothes on. Thankfully we aren't
subjected to seeing his bare bottom as in other films, but we are nonetheless forced to
watch him exercise with ridiculous devices to help him stay in shape. These scenes are so
gratuitous in nature, and I'm surprised that the film producers didn't add the theme music
from the Rocky movies, in particular the song Getting Stronger.
The most laughable workout scene is the lengthy one in which he straps a bathtub filled
with water to a sheet wrapped around his neck where he performs modified squats, back
raises, and biceps curls. The look of determination on his face is amusing, especially
when the water from the tub splashes up in his face and he yells in focused anger. Here's
how the scene could be improved - he should have strapped himself to a toilet and had
splashes of urine hit him in the face. That would make anyone angry, I'd bet.
The depth of the movie can best be explained by describing the finale. Rourke has Van
Damme's son in a basket in the center of a Roman Coliseum used for gladiator fights, with
land mines in the sand all around marked with crosses, a sniper in the bleachers to keep
Van Damme from running, and a tiger! roaming around waiting to kill anyone it can pounce
on. The English Patient this film surely is not.
This extended scene makes absolutely no sense, since Rourke is shirtless to try and
showcase his body, yet he doesn't intend to fight Van Damme, as he clearly wants the tiger
to kill him. However, the addition of a tiger does prove how comical Van Damme films can
be. Animal rights activists would surely object to the manner in which the tiger is
treated in this film (except that it is clear it is a digital tiger in all scenes of
actual violence)*. After much running around, Van Damme faces off with Rourke in the
Coliseum. Some of the fighting is very funny, but by this time we don't really notice.
The best rewrite to this scene would have been the addition of a matador entering the
ring complete with a bull, clown, and barrel in the background during the fight scene with
Van Damme and Rourke. I'd bet that it could have been added with little or no notice from
the regular viewer's eyes due to the already ridiculous nature of the scene, but would
have been welcomed wholeheartedly by Double Action viewers. Maybe in Van Damme's next
|Normal Biker Turns Hell's Angel
|Quinn causes a fuel truck to explode by driving past it. A
motorcyclist crashes through the flames, only to find both his bike and his body on fire
as they slide perpetually off into the sunset.
|Backseat Drivers Tick Me Off
|Stavros surprises the Deputy Director of the CIA by hiding
in the backseat of a 4 door car in broad daylight. He exits the car and the Director
exclaims Why Me??? as the car explodes vertically.
|Play That Funky Music, White Boy
|Quinn dodges machine gun fire by performing flips and
twirls akin to breakdancing on the sidewalk, all while holding and firing a pistol.
|This Chair Feels Wobbly
|Stavros enters a hospital and gets past a sentry as he
pulls him forward through the protective glass, then pushes him back through the other
side through even more glass. Ouch.
|Quinn attempts to rescue his child while returning to his
home but realizes that his baby is in fact a toy with an explosive temper. His house
explodes and he experiences BIM as his body is thrown through glass doors into his
|Doo Doo in the Pool
|Quinn jumps away from his swimming pool after a female
terrorist throws a grenade into it. XBC should be added
to this scene as Quinn's body flies away from the phony, second rate digitally imposed
|Don't Miss Your Bus
|Yaz fights off an assailant in the backseat of a car. Yaz
exits the car to the other side, and while dodging bullets at 6 feet, manages to pick up
and throw the bad guy across the street into the side window of a moving! bus.
|A "Desperado" actor accidentally finds himself
on the set and realizes there's no harm done. He opens fire with his suitcase at Quinn
while screaming. It is obvious he takes pride in his work.
|Helicopter Fight Scene
|No, there aren't any aircraft in this scene, but the bald
martial artist spends so much time in the air with his legs twirling that he should give
tours of the city.
|Show Them What You Can Do
|A tiger finds itself experiencing BIM as Quinn knocks out a balcony from beneath it's feet.
It falls far enough with it's legs completely outstretched that XBC should be a perfect addition.
|Why Me, Tony?
|Stavros finds himself caught in his own trap. He can't
move since he's standing on a mine and a tiger that was meant to kill Quinn turns on him.
As our villains often do, he exclaims "Why Me???", moves his leg and a phony
digital explosion engulfs both.
|Workouts Make Me Thirsty
|In the final over the top explosion of the movie, Quinn,
Yaz, Quinn's baby, and Goldsmythe all outrun a gigantic explosion and take refuge behind a
Coke-a-Cola vending machine. They forgot to make sure they got correct change from it.
One of the reasons that I actually managed to muster up a great deal of
laughter in this film, especially during a few key scenes was due to the poor nature in
which the special effects were carried out.
As mentioned in a feature article, Disaster Spells Laughter, more and more films
are making use of special effects where scenes are either dangerous or impractical to
shoot in real life. Unfortunately, while the special effects can look good in big budget
films, lower budget films must make do with second rate effects.
The scenes where Van Damme leaps away from his swimming pool is so funny
because it is clearly a shot of him jumping onto a mat away from a blue screen.
The tiger scenes are also very funny because they are reminiscent of
another digital fiasco in the film Eraser in which alligators are attacking
everyone in the zoo and they look completely artificial and pathetic.
In the finale, Van Damme kicks a tiger in the head, just as Arnold punches
an alligator in the head in Eraser, and we see clearly that the animals become
fuzzy and unnatural in their resulting movement.
Finally, the explosive scene in which the characters take refuge behind a
Coke machine are totally fake as we see the blurry, digital flames streak past the camera.
For anyone interested in seeing real flames caught on film, they should watch Backdraft.