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Double Team

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Double Team

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dennis Rodman
Director: Tsui Hark
Rated: R
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: April 1997
Genre: Action

Review by MrBrown
2½ stars out of 4

Van Damme. Rodman. Rourke. Not the recipe for disaster it appears to be, thanks to Hong Kong action maestro Tsui Hark (Once Upon a Time in China), whose brisk, stylish, and inventive direction keeps Double Team moving fairly smoothly over some turbulent patches--but not smoothly enough.

One such turbulent patch is the preposterous plot. Jean-Claude Van Damme plays Jack Quinn, a CIA operative who, after inadvertently causing the death of the son of terrorist Stavros (Mickey Rourke), is sentenced to a top-secret penal colony/think tank for dangerous agents. After a daring escape, Quinn hooks up with flamboyant arms dealer Yaz (Dennis Rodman) to go after Stavros.

The star of Double Team is not Van Damme nor Rodman but the action, and Tsui, working with a number of HK luminaries such as Samo Hung, stage some wild and exciting set pieces. One early sequence that begins in an amusement park and ends in a hospital is more exciting and entertaining than the endings of Van Damme's last four films combined (make that the _entirety_ of those four films). Tsui reaches a delirious high with a manic hotel room fight with a Chinese assassin (Xi Xi Xiong, a vet of Tsui's Once Upon a Time series) who holds a knife with his toes, a scene that duplicates the outrageous exuberance of the best HK productions.

But, as it stands, the great scenes are just that, good parts of a mediocre whole; the talent of the director is not quite enough to make up for the minimal ability exhibited by some of the other people working on the production. The line of the plot cooked up by Don Jakoby and Paul Mones is quite hokey, to say the least, and certain plot devices stretch credibility, even for an action film, most notably how the heroes survive the finale (oops, did I ruin it for some people?). Without giving the specifics away, it makes me wonder just how much a certain company paid for such a blatant--and, admittedly, creative--product placement. Even though Van Damme thankfully has little dialogue to work with, when he does speak, he is as wooden as ever. The big question here is whether or not hoopster Rodman can act, and after seeing the film, I'm not completely sure. He plays a variation of his own outrageous personality, which, naturally, he does well enough; time will tell if he can actually play a character. The problem with Rodman, however, is that he sticks out like a sore thumb throughout the picture; his involvement is obvious stunt casting--a bit too much so. Not helping matters at all are the numerous throwaway basketball references served up by the scripters; they just serve to take the audience out of the movie even more.

Double Team is certainly one of Van Damme's best, but in light of his less-than-sterling body of work, that isn't saying a whole lot.

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