Double Van Damme Trouble
Double impact is not the best Van Damme movie. It’s not the most popular. That would be Universal Soldier (1992). It’s not the movie that made him a star. That would be Bloodsport (1988). It’s probably also not a fan favorite. That would be CYBORG (1989). So where does that leave Double Impact (1991)? Right smack in the middle. That makes it a great opportunity to talk about what makes Van Damme, the actor, and Hong Kong, the best action movie city of all time work for us action types.
The story of Double Impact is fairly simple, as most early 90’s action movie stories are. Construction tycoon Phillip Wagoner (Andy Armstrong) attends the unveiling of an underwater tunnel he’s built to connect Hong Kong with mainland China. He attends with his wife (Katherine Wagoner, played by Sarah-Jane Varley), their two infant sons, and their Chinese maid (Wu Fong Lung). His business partner Nigel Griffith (Alan Scarfe) unveils the tunnel with them, and the celebration ensues. After the celebration the tycoon gives his bodyguard Frank Avery (an always entertaining Geoffrey Lewis) the night off. That proves to be a huge mistake. Once they get home the local kingpin, Raymond Zhang (an always entertaining Philip Chan) is waiting with his henchmen, led by Moon (an always awesome Bolo Yeung). Phillip puts up a fight, but both he and his wife are murdered. Frank shows up and starts letting off some bullets to bust up the party, but he’s too late. He sees the maid with the infants and tells her to book. She does, but only with one of the infants. He sees this, shoots Moon in the face, and picks up the baby. He gets shot in back and manages to escape. The last we see of the infants is Frank leaving on a boat to some unknown location, and the other baby is left in front of a orphanage and stumbled upon by a surprised nun.
From their, you get to the meat of the story. The twins are all grown up. It starts with Chad, who we see is a aerobics/karate instructor. Frank is still in the picture, and it’s revealed that Frank raised Chad in France and moved with him to America. THAT’S why Chad has an accent. Frank has found Alex, and convinces Chad to go with him back to Hong Kong to follow up on some “business” they have there. This is where the movie get’s good. Once they get there, funny stuff happens, and they find out Alex has become a connected Hong Kong gangster, with a stunning fiancé ( Danielle Wilde, played by Alonna Snow) who mistakes Chad for Alex and almost has relations with him. Then the brothers are together.
VAN DAMME, THE MAN, THE LEGEND….
So Van Damme play’s both brothers in the movie, and he really pulls it off. Chad is a yuppee, a spandex wearing karate knowing sub eighties personality that hasn’t discovered his inner bad ass. Alex is a gun toting gangster that spends most of the movie not trusting anybody, including his own wife. And Van Damme pull it off.
That might not sound like a big deal, but could Arnold pull it off? Sure, he did it in The 6th Day (2000) but technically he was playing himself (literally a clone of himself). Those characters didn’t have to be different from each other.
Never saw Stallone do it. Or Bruce Willis. Or Seagal.
Of all 80’s to early 90’s action stars only Van Damme managed to pull off a convincing play at it, and it sort of illustrates what separated Van Damme in his prime from the other action stars at the time who actually knew Karate. The man could EMOTE!
Think about Chuck Norris. Do you see a snarling bad ass when you think of Chuck Norris? No, I see the plain faced ranger roundhouse kicking someone in the face. What about Steven Seagal? You see any intensity? No, you see someone twisting someones are and making them fall over. Now the guys are still awesome and bad ass! As an action afficianado I can understand that walker fu and fat fu (my pet name for Akido after watching will sasso’s dead on impression of Steven Segal) is all about style.
But with Van Damme you get the intensity! With Van Damme you get the anger! With Van Damme…you get ACTION!
Whether he’s kicking, screaming, or doing some other crazy thing he’s giving it his all. All the time. In a way he was doing the whole Jackie Chan thing before Jackie Chan was huge in the states. And this movie is a prime Van Damme example, because you’re getting both sides of the mythos. There’s the karate master side, which is always entertaining, and the gun blasting side, which is actually done well considering the director wasn’t John Woo. And that boy’s and girls is why I picked this movie to bring to the light of day. It’s fun to watch, silly even at times, but Van Damme delivers, and I personally think it’s his best ACTION performance. Not necessarily the best acting role (could be though) or the best movie, but it is a great VAN DAMME movie.
HONG KONG…YOU CAN’T BEAT IT…
There is something about Hong Kong that makes it the perfect action city. From the talent that flocked there from the mainland for generations to the pulsating streets themselves, Hong Kong is that capital of world when it comes to action movies, and this is one of the few action movies that’s actually of not Chinese origin that manages to capture some of that magic.
The best parts that show this off are when they in the streets of Hong Kong planning their revenge and when they are on the water with the big beautiful city in the background. It’s a crazy, bustling, exotic experience every time.
Van Damme would come back to Hong Kong again in his career for Knock Off (1998)(one of my guilty little pleasures. I remember Rob Schneider being interviewed for the film and it was like even he didn’t know it existed). In fact, he would go on to work with the incredible John Woo in HARD TARGET (1993), but for whatever reason a more lasting, fruitful relationship between the personalities didn’t come of it.
It’s a shame, because of all the late eighties early nineties mega stars Van Damme was probably the most talented, and the most Hong Kong style at heart. Maybe we’ll go deeper into Hard Target when the time is right…
CORRINA EVERSON AND BOLO YEUNG….
As with all my the movies I choose to show ya’ll, this thing has some great bad guys. Bolo Yeung, the monstrous Chinese action star that appears in a collection of Van Damme films gives a great performance here. Apparently, after Bolo made Bloodsport (The movie that made Van Damme a star) with Van Damme they became fast friends, and worked on a bunch of movies with him ever since. This movie was one of those collaborations.
To me he’s the closest thing to a Chinese Arnold Schwarzenegger to ever grace this earth. Except he’s played mostly bad guys, and played them well. He’s big, intimidating, and great at playing the strong silent type. To the point where once he actually say’s something it slips right by you. He’s great to watch and if you haven’t seen him in a movie at least once you are not a true action fan.
Corrina Eversons role in the film as Cara is equally awesome. Corrina is a professional body builder in real life that has made the rounds in movies and T.V shows, most notably Double Impact and XENA: Warrior Princess.
In Double Impact its hard to put her role in it’s place. She nails the part looks wise. The whole time she’s either in spandex or latex, Thank God, and she gives just the right amount of attitude to her lines. But what really separates her from SO many many other “bad chicks” in action movies is the “interrogation” she give Danielle Wilde, Alex’s fiance. Danielle and Kara are perfect opposites during the whole film, and this interrogation is so over the top homoerotic it’s incredible. I mean, it’s really unprecedented for a movie of this caliber and it sort of makes me wish it was a much bigger part of the movie. Check it out below.
The rest of the bad guys deliver as much as you want to deliver, with Alan Scarfe giving a particularly swarthy performance. Phillip Chan, of course, gives a soulful performance as the dapper don that hits all the right notes.
This guy is one of the unsung Hollywood regulars. He’s been in the business for years, but never celebrated.
Well guess what? I’m doing it right now. This guy is bad ass. His role in the movie is classic, AND HE ELEVATES the whole damn thing. Without him it wouldn’t hold up at all
You need to find what else he’s been and watch it.
He could play the sweet of Grandpa and I’d watch. Or the old bad ass raising little bad asses to take revenge on people like he’s doing here. He’s that talented, and he is one of those unsung Hollywood legends that we need to pay more attention to. This guys been around, and he’s awesome. Mr. Lewis, if you are out there I SALUTE YOU!
THE SEX SCENE
Basically, it involves Chad and Danielle and Alex’s jealously. It’s the one part of the movie that always stuck with me, but not for the obvious reasons. It’s a sex scene that’s not a sex scene. I would prattle on about it, but I don’t want to spoil it. YOU HAVE TO SEE THAT PART FOR YOURSELF! But trust me, it’s worth it because it is a nifty inversion of what you would expect from a normal sex scene.
THE WEAK STUFF
Well, the good outweighs the bad, and it’s a great movie for it’s historical value alone, but there is weakness to be found here.
Most notably the story. It’s thin. There are holes you could drive a flaming truck through.
It’s mostly logic stuff though, and to be honest your sort of laughing with it more than against it. Like a child that’s funny for the wrong reason, but still funny.
That better be your wallet or something down there…
Some of the acting is wooden as well. There could just be more intensity throughout the whole thing and it would have been a much better movie.
It’s a legitimate classic, and an entertaining one at that. It’s takes you back to that magical time that was the early 90’s, and takes you there with a smile.
And it is a great specimen of the Van Damme variety. I know he’s had a bit of a comeback recently. But honestly, he deserves more. Just watch this movie…he’s put it lot’s of legitimate work into becoming a star…you could watch JCVD (2008) also. The opening of that movie…wow…just wow.
Rumor has it that Van Damme is going to be in THE EXPENDABLES 2…along with BOLO. If that happens…man, my head will explode. But in the meantime take a step back and watch some classic Van Damme.
You will not be disappointed.
I’m so confident you won’t be….I’m willing to bet….double!
P.S A bit of B Movie TriviaJulie Strain is one of the aerobics extras in this movie. Points if you can find her!!!
Also, the Director of BLOODSPORT also Directed DOUBLE IMPACT. Who knew?
(As has been pointed out in the comments, Sheldon Lettich did not direct both movies, but he did write both! Thanks for catching that! Newt Arnold directed BLOODSPORT.)
Signed with Big Explosions, Guns, Fast Cars, Speed, Scantily Clad Vixens, and Booze.D. Scarzilla
P.SJust for Giggles…..Corrina Corrina
The Early 90’s weren’t that bad after all…