(Air Date: 4/2/97)
The last three Hong Kong directors to make Hollywood studio debuts, did so with Jean-Claude Van Damme movies. John Woo started it off with "Hard Target." Ringo Lam came over to do "Maximum Risk." And now Tsui Hark directs Van Damme in "Double Team."
Is this a coincidence? I'm beginning to think it's a conspiracy.
Hark, who directed such Hong Kong classics as "A Chinese Ghost Story" and "Once Upon a Time in China," has a fantastic visual sense, and he knows how to do a lot with a small-budget Hong Kong film. However, in "Double Team," Hark is hampered by too much budget, if such a thing is possible, and an extremely confusing script.
Van Damme is Jack Quinn, a retired counter-terrorist agent. I'm not sure how or why, but he gets caught up in a grudge match against Stavros, played by Mickey Rourke. And somehow, he teams up with an arms dealer, played by basketball star Dennis Rodman. Don't ask.
To top it all off, there are elements stolen from James Bond films, Hark's own kung fu films, and even the TV show "The Prisoner." Again, don't ask.
Apparently, no one uses shatterproof glass anymore. If you have a basketball player in your movie, I guess you're required to throw in a handful of bad basketball puns. And, of course, there's the obligatory scene of Van Damme doing the splits.
I hate to say this, because I have great respect for Hark and his work, but "Double Team" has got to be the worst movie I have seen in years, probably since "The Jerky Boys." With any luck, Hark will get to work with John Travolta next.
Copyright 1997 Alex Lau
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