Double Impact (1991) – Jean-Claude Van Damme

It’s an interesting basic concept but that’s pretty much all it is. This movie is quite one dimensional. Van Damme plays both twins separated when they were babies after their parents were killed. They meet up for the first time and eventually agree to go after their parents’ killers. That’s the entire plot in a nutshell.

Van Damme does a decent job acting, considering the script he’s got to work with. Both of his characters are convincing, which is impressive considering how different they are.

Philip Chan does alright as one of two bad bosses, and Bolo Yeung does alright as his main muscle man. Nice to see Bolo and Van Damme do another movie together, just 3 years after their classic Bloodsport. They both do many of their trademark moves and mannerisms in this movie.

Geoffrey Lewis does alright as the bodyguard of the parents who were killed, and the man who ended up raising one of the twins by himself.

Alan Scarfe does a satisfactory job, but doesn’t wow, as the other bad boss, and Corinna Everson does quite well as his main muscle man (or woman).

Alonna Shaw does a satisfactory job, but no more, as the girlfriend of one of the twins, who also works for Scarfe’s character – one of the two leaders of the bad guys – until she learns what they’re really about.

All in all it’s a OK movie, not too bad if you’ve not seen it in a long time. It’s got a few cool scenes and a few boring bits – especially tedious for re-watchers who have a rough idea what’s coming.

Assassination Games (2011) – Jean-Claude Van Damme and Scott Adkins

Classic moody old Van Damme and classic moody prime Scott Adkins join forces in a beautiful depiction of two expert assassins colliding on a job then joining forces to finish personal vendettas against the odds. The only reason I don’t rate Assassination Games higher is because it has a fairly simplistic script and probably a lower budget than it deserves. The basic concepts in the plot are good, but they fail to flesh out into a more comprehensive plot to entertain us on another level which we should be considering the stars involved. The script is thin but the two action hero superstars carry this movie into a moderate success. The opening scene seems almost B Movie quality, but it quickly improves. Granted, there are some cool sets, like Van Damme’s apartment with secret rooms, and his agent’s lair was convincing too. All in all, it’s makes for decent viewing when you haven’t seen it in a while.

Supporting cast includes Kristopher Van Varenberg, also known as Kris Van Damme, and Bianca Van Varenberg, also known as Bianca Bree and Bianca Van Damme – these are Jean-Claude Van Damme’s two children from his current wife who he divorced then re-married (Jean-Claude has a son to ex-wife Darcy LaPier also – that one being called Nicholas Van Varenberg). Indeed, Jean-Claude Van Damme’s name is actually Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg. In this movie, his daughter Bree plays the comatose wife of Scott Adkins’ character, and Van Damme’s son Kris plays one of the enemies of Adkins’ character.

Desert Heat aka Inferno (1999) – Jean-Claude Van Damme

Inferno (also released as Desert Heat) is a simple story exhibiting classic Van Damme, as plays Eddie Lomax, a man ready to die, who rolls into a town called Inferno, somewhere in the Old West, to visit an old friend, an Native American Indian man called Johnny Six Toes, played by Danny Trejo, to deliver him a gift – an Indian motorcycle – and to ask for his blessing in ending his life. Unfortunately, before the gift could be delivered, the bike got stolen and Eddie nearly killed in the process. So Eddie stays in town for a bit longer, to deal with the thieves, and in the process, deals with two large gangs of thugs, while making some good friends and finding a woman he loves.

Van Damme is his usual self, convincing and entertaining in his role as Eddie Lomax, and he’s blessed with a decent script here – it’s no stunner but it’s sufficient for his essence to come out quite well on screen. Van Damme looks consistently cool, and there’s a nice injection of humour from time to time.

Danny Trejo does a decent job as Johnny Six Toes, the Indian man who is Eddie’s old friend. Since Eddie saved Johnny’s life a long time ago, the two have become spiritually joined at the hip.

The lead female role, Rhonda Reynolds, the local diner’s chef who becomes Eddie’s girlfriend by the end, is played by Gabrielle Fitzpatrick – she does a decent job – quite convincing.

We’re also blessed with a strong supporting role played by Pat Morita (better known as Mr Miyagi from The Karate Kid). In this movie he’s getting on a bit, but still does well in the character of a patient, positive & helpful old man.

I would say this movie is about average in Van Damme’s overall filmography. It’s not on the level of Bloodsport or The Quest but is not far behind. He’s in his prime here, and is backed by a decent cast. It’s better than a lot of the cheaper straight-to-video movies he’s made throughout his busy career – most of which are still classics nevertheless.

The Order (2001) – Jean-Claude Van Damme

8/10 – This is one of Van Damme’s better movies in terms of plot. Quite adventurous and a bit mysterious, yet still with that cool ass-kicking vibe you expect from all his movies. With the help of a small but strong supporting cast, this movie warrants a successful 8/10.

Universal Soldier (1992) – Jean-Claude Van Damme

7.5/10 — Very creative base storyline, with credible lead acting, and the odd awesome scene; but it gets a bit boring towards the end as the writers run out of creativity, which makes for less interesting re-watching. Fortunately there are several sequels to keep you entertained if you like the first one. The sequels are about as good as the original.

The Quest (1996) – Jean-Claude Van Damme and Roger Moore

8.5/10 – Action packed, borderline slapstick adventure, all about (empty handed) martial arts. Based around the idea of Bloodsport where a tournament decides who is the best fighter from all corners of the world, and has endless similarities with Bloodsport in terms of techniques and fighting styles, but with an added injection of great story and strong acting thanks to Roger Moore’s ever-excellent presence, albeit probably on a far lower budget than Bloodsport but the strong lead cast of The Quest makes it a convincing, enjoyable movie (just a little bit boring in the over-dragged-out final fight scene at the end).

If you enjoyed seeing a top martial arts action hero like Van Damme teaming up with a legend from James Bond like Roger Moore, you may also be interested in The Foreigner (2017) which sees Jackie Chan teaming up with Pierce Brosnan in what’s arguably the best performance of both their careers.

Replicant (2001) – Jean-Claude Van Damme

7.5/10 – This movie has a very creative story, which makes it intriguing to follow until the plot unravels; then it becomes predictable. Not a bad effort in acting by the lead characters. Generally a classic direct-to-DVD JCVD performance – recommended viewing for Van Damme fans who watch all his movies and haven’t seen this one yet. This movie probably inspired Jet Li’s movie ‘Unleashed’ (2005) which has a lot in common with Replicant – not in how the child-minded killer is created, but in the basic story of a deadly killer kept encaged and trained to kill without being taught basic skills like how to communicate and perform common daily tasks, or how the world works, etc.

No Retreat, No Surrender (1986) – Kurt McKinney and Jean-Claude Van Damme

8/10 – This is one of the few movies Van Damme has done where he doesn’t play the hero role. Kurt McKinney is the hero in this movie and puts on a decent performance, while Van Damme plays the role of the main enemy and does an good job of it. This movie is packed with uplifting training scenes backed by good soundtracks (although the music varies between versions and some are far better than others). Overall it’s a low quality of acting by all but the lead characters but is a story you can really enjoy and get motivated by, like many mild-quality martial arts movies are when they have a classic action hero tale and a good lead performance.

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Kickboxer (1989) – Jean-Claude Van Damme

8.5/10 – This is one of Van Damme’s best movies after Bloodsport. Kickboxer was released just one year after Bloodsport and you’ll spot a few resemblances in the training methods and fighting techniques used in this movie. Good storyline and good training scenes – really captures the imagination and draws you in with the help of great soundtracks too. Dennis Chan Kwok-San also treats us to a strong performance as Van Damme’s trainer in this movie. Kickboxer also has sequels (as it’s a franchise) but they’re not starring Van Damme, with the exception of the sixth instalment and thereafter where he has a supporting role. Generally the sequels are neither similar nor as good as the original – but 6, 7 & 8 are quite star-studded with combat sport celebrities.

Bloodsport (1988) – Jean-Claude Van Damme

This is easily one of Van Damme’s best movies. A masterpiece of a martial arts movie. Great budget, great acting, great story, great entertainment throughout – keeps busy and doesn’t have boring or over-predictable patches like Van Damme’s later straight-to-VHS/DVD style movies did. This movie was clearly made with love. Great soundtracks, ample distinct highly entertaining scenes, great cast. The lead antagonist is played by Bolo Yeung from Bruce Lee’s ‘Enter The Dragon’ as he’s a highly credible martial artist with high talent in real life (this is why he was chosen for a strong role in Bruce Lee’s highest-budget, last-completed movie). Bloodsport could probably get a perfect 10/10 if it had one or two further outstanding actors in it and if its martial value was far more detailed (helping viewers learn a lot more about martial arts techniques & principles while watching). If you’re a fan of martial arts movies, particularly Van Damme’s movies, and haven’t yet seen this one, you really need to catch up with this classic. Easily re-watchable every year or two.

Martial arts wise, it’s heavily themed around martial artists in a tournament. Action wise, it’s not James Bond, but there’s a lot of fist fighting and a bit of running around. Plot wise, it’s quite zeroed in on a simple concept, but stays quite busy works fantastically. Cast wise, there are several strong performances and a few less strong.

This movie was inspired by the alleged real life story of Frank Dux, a martial artist still living & teaching today, although his story now appears to be almost certainly utterly bogus. I guess we can still thank him for his dodgy story having inspired one of the greatest martial arts movies ever made.

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