Double Impact (1991)

Double Impact (1991)

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They could never work out who would pay the bill.
They could never work out who would pay the bill.

Twitter Plot Summary: Van Damme plays twin brothers who are embroiled in a criminal underworld plot

Five Point Summary:

1. Jean Claude Van Damme in spandex. There’s an image that I’m never going to forget…
2. Two Van Damme’s!
3. I was just waiting for the big explosion… there it is.
4. Brotherly strife.
5. Yes, let’s all take our shirts off for this fight to the death. Why not?

Van Damme made a seemingly endless amount of cheap and cheerful action films in the 80s and 90s, none more cheap, cheerful and inherently silly as Double Impact, where you get double the Van Damme for your money. After their parents are killed, baby twin brothers Alex and Chad are separated and raised in different countries. Now some years later, they’re reunited to seek revenge against those responsible for the death of their parents. So far, so cliche. Unfortunately it never rises above this as every trope in the martial acts action sub-genre is trotted out for all to see.

If there’s one thing it gets right is the personality split between the two brothers. Van Damme has never been an exceptional actor, but at least here he was able to clearly define both his characters, one decidedly cool and the quintessential action hero, the other not so much. In fact the second, less action-esque brother, Alex, has a penchant for displaying his package in tight spandex. To complicate matters there’s also a love triangle involving the two brothers and their affection for stereotypical blonde Danielle Wilde (Alonna Shaw) who has to pick between the two brothers. Because naturally this is something that we have to endure in a film that’s otherwise focused on big beefy men scrapping in dark warehouses or yet more dark warehouses.

Van Damme could kill a man just by posing. With a knife.
Van Damme could kill a man just by posing. With a knife.

Whilst some of the action isn’t all that bad, the excessive use of slow motion does have the ability to annoy after a little while. In many cases it feels like padding that would have been better placed covering up Van Damme’s member. Van Damme at least is entirely capable of pulling off these sequences, although for the most part these sequences are played far too safely, and more often than not the camera is positioned too close to the fighting to fully appreciate the skills required to pull it off. It’s not as bad as Steven Seagal’s more recent films (whereby the camera is so close to the fight you’re practically inside Seagal’s colon) but it’s not far off.

It lapses further into generic territory when one of the twins has a fist fight with the obligatory scarred villain in the final act. The fact they also, seemingly without rhyme or reason, take off their tops just to show off their muscles and press against one another is somewhat concerning. Suddenly it becomes clear why Alonna Shaw’s character is in the film – men need to feel secure in the knowledge that there is a moderately attractive woman to look at in amongst all of this potentially homoerotic scuffling.

Double Impact does its job in entertaining the masses briefly before making a swift dash for the exit before its audience realises that they have just sat through two hours of generic action nonsense. Not just that but generic action nonsense that has nothing new to say. If seeing Jean-Claude Van Damme sport two different hairstyles is your thing then Double Impact is the film for you.

Score: 2/5

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