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Maximum Risk

movie reviewmovie review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Maximum Risk

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Natasha Henstridge
Director: Ringo Lam
Rated: R
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: September 1996
Genre: Action


*Also starring: Zach Grenier, Frank Van Keeken, Stephane Audran, Ron Kaman, Jean-Hughes Anglade, Paul Ben-Victor, Frank Senger, David Hemblen



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1.  MrBrown review follows movie reviewmovie review
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Review by MrBrown
2 stars out of 4

The latest vehicle for the Muscles from Brussels, Jean-Claude Van Damme, is as nondescript as the tacked-on title (the film was originally titled the more appropriate, though less slam-bang, The Exchange), fairly devoid of any distinct personality that would set it apart from other action flicks.

The film starts off promisingly enough, with Van Damme being bumped off within the first five minutes, after a well-staged and edited chase. Unfortunately for acting scholars everywhere, good ol' Jean-Claude resurfaces as the twin of the dead J-C, and he heads off to New York to investigate the murder and the life of the brother he never knew he had. Needless to say, said brother was involved with some shady characters--the Russian Mafia--and he soon finds himself running for his life with his brother's lover (Natasha Henstridge, reduced to playing a typical action movie "girl" after her maneating turn in Species) in tow.

Like 1993's Hard Target, Maximum Risk marks the American debut of a celebrated Hong Kong action director--in this case, Ringo Lam, famous for his On Fire trilogy. Unfortunately, Lam isn't able to energize the miniscule goods delivered by Larry Ferguson's tired, unexciting script. Lam's visual style is a lot grittier and less flashy than John Woo's (the flashiest bit is a shot that follows the path of a bullet), and thus the script's flaws aren't concealed too well. He does, however, competently stage what brief snatches of action there are, though none of it is especially exciting. Van Damme also comes off slightly worse than usual, appearing quite stiff, which is likely Lam's inadvertent doing. In his Hong Kong work, he usually coaxes understated performances from capable actors such as Chow Yun-Fat; Van Damme, on the other hand, isn't much of an actor, and as such his attempted "subtlety" comes off as just plain wooden.

As junky as Hard Target was, its flash was enough for Hollywood to take notice of John Woo. I'm not so sure how Hollywood will treat Ringo Lam. He's a talented filmmaker, but without Woo's stylistic flair and a Van Damme vehicle worse than Hard Target under his belt, his future Tinseltown prospects, unfortunately, don't look too bright.

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