Double Team (1997) Jan 26, 2010 16:40:20 GMT
Post by ronnierocketago on Jan 26, 2010 16:40:20 GMT
DOUBLE TEAM(1997) - **1/2
Whatever flaws KNOCK-OFF had, it was at least watchable and even (mostly) entertaining as a mindless cartoon. So I watched director Tsui Hark's other collaboration with action star Jean Claude Van Damme, (filmed before KNOCK-OFF), and I'm left surprisingly unsatisfied. DOUBLE TEAM contains no less wacky creative story touches than KNOCK-OFF did, but it lacks that Hong Kong comic octane filmatics which made KNOCK-OFF maybe one of the better Van Damme vehicles I've seen so far. Unfortunately get the bland and uninspiring action choreography that marks most Van Damme movies. And no green fireballs.
The action in DOUBLE TEAM isn't bad per say, for we go through all the motions but I was never particularly intrigued or excited. TEAM's lacking action wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if there was a serviceable plot with decent characters and some humor. Which it doesn't. That's another thing, TEAM is pretty serious about itself, which I like to encourage when if possible, but dude you have to give me something to take you serious with. Your action movie has a problem when your action is sorta boring.
I believe the problem was best summed up by my buddy (and sometimes adversary) Mr. Majestyk at the Outlaw Vern website: "[DOUBLE TEAM] feels like a Jean-Claude movie that just happens to be directed by Tsui Hark, while [KNOCK-OFF] feels like a Tsui Hark movie that that just happens to star Jean-Claude."
The so-called story has Van Damme a spy who after stealing a top secret car (which looks like the bastard child of the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile and one of the Transformers) retires to live at a villa with his pregnant wife. Which for the experienced action nose then knows to expect him to return to the game and his knocked up wife gets mixed up somehow. After a botched sting operation at a circus which gets terrorist Mickey Rourke's woman and kid killed (opps), Van Damme becomes his target. I think you've figured what happens from there. Van Damme then teams up wih arms dealer Dennis Rodman.
Oh how do I explain Dennis Rodman to young kids? Well he was a 1990s NBA basketball player, a great power forward. Two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, seven-time NBA All-Defensive First Team, led the league in rebounds per game for a record seven consecutive seasons, and an essential team component towards five NBA titles with the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls. But nobody remembers all that, oh no people only remember Rodman the camerawhore freakshow with the frequent fights, ejections, ear rings, tattoos, wearing a wedding dress in public, claiming bisexuality, alleged Madonna breeding stud, marrying Carmen Electra (while intoxicated), wrestling in a few WCW Pay Per Views, yeah he was a colorful character. And had the hair to prove it.
Rodman surprisingly isn't too bad in DOUBLE TEAM, he's just isn't given much to do to truely prove himself, as if jokes about his badboy image is supposed to be enough. I like how he supposedly designed this experimental parachute which wraps the person in a protective sphere, which suspiciously looks like a basketball. I don't buy his arms dealer with a heart of gold, I mean this is Dennis Rodman. I would think that would hurt his image more than help it, but anyhow.
The same goes for Rourke, who gives easily his worst performance, and some of the bullshit in the 1990s which destroyed his career in the first place. Around the time of his THE WRESTLER publicity tour, I saw Rourke beat himself up in interviews for doing DOUBLE TEAM, saying how he felt like a whore for only doing it for the money. Well gosh Mickey, I can't exactly feel bad for you there. Its not like the mafia put a gun to your head and made you do DOUBLE TEAM, or HARLEY DAVIDSON & THE MARLBORO MAN, or any of those other turkeys. Stardom went to your head, soon you just didn't give a damn, and well you paid for it. Plus your ill-advised boxing stint didn't do your face any favors.
Now the off-beat script moments in DOUBLE TEAM I was talking about earlier, you have quite a few. From a Van Damme/Rourke gunfight in a maternity ward (how subtle) to computer hacking monks(!) to Van Damme slicing his own fingerprint off. My favorite is Van Damme apparently exiled by his superiors to this mysterious THE PRISONER-esque escape proof island colony where other "dead" agents reside, swimming and playing billards while giving tactical advice to their respective former governments. Of course this all makes absolutely no fucking logical sense at all, but I liked it. Though I must wonder how these older, more experienced (and assumingly smarter) spies all miss Rourke's taunting message to Van Damme at the scene of a bombing? It's a message almost the size of a billboard, written with spraypaint on the side of a building facing the street.
But again, all that is sorta wasted because of the dull action narrative. Yet the crazy inspired and ridiculous finale at the Roman Colosseum had a spark of that ingenuity and lively energy which I dug about KNOCK-OFF. Rourke and Van Damme are both standing on a minefield, with Van Damme's baby in the middle and a tiger on the loose. Then with the climatic fireblast, exploding vending machines with Rodman using a Coca-Cola dispenser to protect himself from the fireball. But all way too late to save DOUBLE TEAM.
P.S. - If you ever watch this or KNOCK-OFF, you'll notice how Van Damme seems at times to be featuring a glassy eyed indifference to his surroundings when he probably isn't supposed to. Sure never accused of being an actor, but this is quite noticeable. By his own admission, it's because Van Damme was a heavy cocaine addict at this time. So you gain an extra level of fun from trying to figure which scenes he was sober, and which ones he was high as a kite.
Also in honor of the recently screwed Conan O'Brien, here is Van Damme promoting DOUBLE TEAM. And I think Van Damme looks more intoxicated than the Coked-Up Werewolf or Vomiting Kermit.