The vault has been thick with comedies lately so now is a good time to queue up an action movie. I also wanted this selection to be relevant to the upcoming release, Jack and Jill. I assume no one objects to choosing the twins-played-by-the-same-actor concept over Sandler’s action flick Bulletproof.
Chad Wagner (Jean-Claude Van Damme) has a pretty good life. He runs a fitness studio with his Uncle Frank (Geoffrey Lewis) who has raised him for the past twenty-five years. Then Frank drops the bomb; he’s not Chad’s real uncle and Chad has another “business” to manage in Hong Kong. Once there, Chad meets Danielle Wilde (Alonna Shaw), quickly followed by her boyfriend, Alex Wagner (Jean-Claude Van Damme).
Turns out, twenty-five years ago in Hong Kong their dad’s business partner Nigel Griffith (Alan Scarfe) united with Triad boss Raymond Zhang (Phillip Chan) to murder their parents after the completion of the Victoria Harbour Tunnel. It was only due to Frank’s heroics that the twins were spared the same fate. Frank has brought Chad and Alex together for a new venture; a mission of revenge.
I’ve been somewhat dreading revisiting Double Impact. All I could remember was how ridiculous it was that two brothers separated as infants, one raised in the US and the other in China, could both speak in a Belgian accent. Surprisingly, the accent issue didn’t bug me this time around and, even if it had, it was explained, albeit somewhat flimsily. Accents aside, Chad and Alex’s styles are strikingly different. Chad is akin to a Malibu Ken doll, complete with an extensive ’90s wardrobe, including a lavender shirt with shoulder pleats. Alex is JCVD channeling his inner Clint Eastwood, which comes complete with cowboy boots and side-lipping cigarette action.
The contrasting brothers fit neatly into the odd-couple partnering typical in action movies. The big bads and their henchmen totally have that Bond villain vibe. Griffith isn’t stroking a white cat, but he’s a well-to-do Brit with personal bodyguard, Kara (Corinna Everson), a lesbian She-Hulk who can snap your neck with her muscular thighs. Triad boss Zhang strolls around like an Asian pimp and surrounds himself with a high-kicking, spur-wearing Albanian (Peter Malota) and the glassy-eyed, scarred Moon who’s played by the most bad-assest, ball-bustinest Asian That Guy of all-time, Bolo Yeung!
Aside from latching onto some tried and true tropes, co-writer and director Sheldon Lettich does an admirable job of getting the dual Van Dammes to share the screen. Granted, the effects are rough by today’s standards, but are pretty slick given the time period and budget. Lettich works in a completely gratuitous sex scene using a bizarre dream sequence. I do have one major complaint; Alex is quite trigger happy, but he needs to be reload happy. I lost count of the dozens of rounds fired from his guns and, given the tightness of his pants, he couldn’t have carried enough clips to account for them all.
Double Impact is not only the first time JCVD plays two characters, but it is also the first time he wears the hat of producer. He also co-wrote the screenplay and acted as fight choreographer, and you know what that means, not much talking, but a whole lot of head butts and high kicks. Jean-Claude Van Damme racks up quite an impressive list of credits in Double Impact. Maybe the movie isn’t as impressive, but he deserves an A for effort.