Newest Reviews
Picture Stories
Another Round
Tape, The
Man Who Sold His Skin, The
No Man of God
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
Scenes with Beans
Quiet Place Part II, A
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Misha and the Wolves
Yellow Cat
Newest Articles
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
  Wake of Death Van Dammed If You Do
Year: 2004
Director: Philippe Martinez
Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Simon Yam, Philip Tan, Valerie Tian, Tony Schiena, Claude Hernandez, Lisa King, Anthony Fridjhon, Danny Keogh, Pierre Marais, Warrick Grier, Tom Wu, Jacqueline Chan, Burt Kwouk, Joon Chong, Andre Jacobs, Bo Petersen
Genre: Drama, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ben Archer (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is a bouncer, an extremely well-paid one thanks to his skills in the job, who is driving in a car chase between two vehicles, one containing a kidnapped fourteen-year-old girl called Kim (Valerie Tian) and the other a petrol tanker that are trying to crush him between them. He manages to get ahead with some well-placed bullets - he is firing a gun as he drives - and the car with the girl in it halts in the street, whereupon Ben implores Kim to climb out and into the back seat of his wheels, but all the time the tanker is out of control and speeding towards them both, about to crash into them. So we must go back to find out how they got into this perilous situation, mustn't we?

So that's already a pair of overused action flick cliches in the first couple of minutes: the kidnapped female, as women and girls are there to be kidnapped in these things, and the movie that starts in media res with their strongest sequence, then just as it builds to a climax, the screen goes black and we have to circle back to an earlier point so we can discover how this all came to be, then catch up with the stage we entered at. Maybe they were not such a cliché in 2004, but maybe they were, and they sure are now, but you don't watch a Van Damme movie to rock your world to its foundations, you watch them because they're offering a selection of familiar, not too jarring fighting bits and perhaps the odd explosion and car chase, sticking with the comfortable.

Of course, you can kid yourself you're witnessing something groundbreaking as many fans did when they watched this back in '04, convincing yourself Van Damme was serving up his greatest performance that proved he could really act, but he had already proved that in his nineties efforts. He wasn't a brilliant actor by any means, but he was savvy enough to know what he could do well within his limitations and was at least more engaging than some of his contemporaries - Steven Seagal, we mean you. The trouble with this was he was trying to give a proper performance of dramatic heft, and that was not his forte, a pity when he apparently became obsessed with proving himself within those parameters in the latter half of his career when he was not as agile as he once was, and it did lead to a lot of grinding over-emoting on his part.

So it was with Wake of Death, a film that promisingly had seen him reunite with Ringo Lam after the fairly well-regarded In Hell, that was until Lam unceremoniously left the project and some confusion about who was taking over ensued until producer Philippe Martinez stepped in. He was not so great with the drama, which was uninspiring - triad Simon Lam has to get escaped daughter Kim back after he shoots his naked wife when she says she's leaving him, that old chestnut - but the action was considerably more enjoyable, operating well on a budget that cannot have been huge. Filmed in South Africa, this plodded somewhat when Van Damme was not booting heads, and a sign of his slowing down was that not only did he fire guns more than he landed punches, but a karate champion (Tony Schiena) had been drafted in to bolster the action as his sidekick, but for the undemanding, or even the happy with the action viewers, this was serviceable enough if not able to bear the weight of its initial adulation. Plus, grievous misuse of Burt Kwouk did it no favours. Music by Guy Farley.

[Kaleidoscope Entertainment presents Wake of Death on Special Edition Blu-ray, DVD and Digital 5 April 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 677 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: