Maximum Risk

Bomb Rating: 

In many films, there is a concrete point at which the movie ceases to be believable, creating a sensation not unlike being dropped into a cannon and shot out of the theater like a performer at the circus. "Speed" had one of these moments -- when the bus mysteriously defied gravity and jumped over a fifty-foot break in the highway ramp. Anyone ever hear of gravity? In real life, Sandra and Keanu would have flown face first through the windshield into the buckling, shattering concrete and become actor pancakes. End of movie.

"Maximum Risk's" version of the face plant occurs when Jean-Claude Van Damme and his bulky blond nemesis have a martial arts fight while wearing towels in a steam room. While each of them punches, spin-kicks, ducks and flips, the towels stay secure through the magic of Hollywood imagination and lots of Velcro. I guess it beats weenie slapping. Any reasonable person knows that a janitor can open an air vent on the other side of the locker room and it will blow that towel clean off no matter how tightly you wrap it.

This is the second film in which Jean-Claude plays twins, thus violating the international "one twin film per actor" moratorium imposed after screenings of his first twin film, "Double Impact," led to widespread rioting. In this one, Jean-Claude plays a French police officer who tries to figure out why his no-good brother was murdered. When he can't find the answers in France he flies off to New York, where he finds some clues which lead him back to France, whereupon he realizes how much time he could have saved by staying put.

Chinese action director Ringo Lam follows in the footsteps of another Hong Kong filmmaker, John Woo, in both bringing his so-called talents to American filmmaking and teaming with Jean-Claude Van Damme to do it. Apparently these filmmakers have been duped by Jean-Claude's agent into thinking that having Jean-Claude in your first American movie is some kind of high honor.

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