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  Double Team Insert Basketball Pun Here
Year: 1997
Director: Tsui Hark
Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dennis Rodman, Mickey Rourke, Paul Freeman, Natacha Lindinger, Valeria Cavalli, Jay Benedict, Joëlle Devaux-Vullion, Bruno Bilotta, Mario Opinato, Grant Russell, William Dunn, Asher Tzarfati, Rob Diem, Ken Samuels
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Three years ago, CIA agent Jack Quinn (Jean-Claude Van Damme) earned the ire of international criminal Stavros (Mickey Rourke) when he liberated a truckload of stolen, weapons grade plutonium that was intended to go to the seasoned lawbreaker. Now, Quinn lives in anonymous retirement with his wife Kathryn (Natacha Lindinger), who is currently pregnant, but rather than be with her he is about to be abruptly taken away when the agency order him to get back to work as Stavros has emerged once more and Quinn is the only man who can take him down...

Van Damme was nearing his straight-to-DVD phase by the time Double Team was released, but evidently someone still had faith in his box office draw as here he was, er, teamed with another star. However, this star was not brought in from the world of acting, he was basketball player and reality television personality Dennis Rodman, living up to his reputation for eccentricity by appearing in a film such as this, wearing clothes like that, and having his hair dyed a different colour in every scene as he does here. If it seems weird casting, what's even weirder is that he's not a bad choice for the material.

Not that this says much for the material, a reportedly heavily-reworked script by producer Don Jakoby and Paul Mones, which is the wrong side of ridiculous throughout, not making its mind up whether this a science fiction conspiracy thriller, an outright spoof, or a wisecracking action extravaganza. Oddly, the man in the director's chair was Tsui Hark, a legend of Hong Kong filmmaking who stumbled here when off his home turf; a case could be made that this might have been better received if it had been made in Hong Kong with local stars, but you might not be so sure.

Quinn meets with weapons dealer Yaz (no, not the eighties singer, that's Rodman, although he is about as tall as she is), and they exchange some weak banter although Dennis certainly makes an impression, and off Quinn goes to take down Stavros (no, not the eighties comedy character as played by Harry Enfield) at a funfair. This results in a massive shootout that sees the bad guy's son killed, somewhat less than hilariously, and Quinn seriously injured. When he wakes up, he is in the sixties television series The Prisoner, although there is no Number 6 to be seen, just an island community where ex-agents are taken to live out their enforced retirement.

Nobody has ever escaped from "The Colony", but that's not good enough for Quinn who works out a way of getting off the place after an exercise regime that has him lifting his bath up and down and holding his breath for two minutes. He also cuts off his thumbprint to fool the identity scanner, and then it's time to go: his stunt double jumps off a high cliff and grabs onto a supply boat, which then takes him up into the skies where he hitches a ride on a plane, and... well, you get the idea, we're not dealing with anything remotely believable here. Yet neither are we dealing with anything quite satisfying enough, as while the filmmakers work hard to provide scenes we have not seen before, such as the climax that features Van Damme being chased around the mine-filled Coliseum by a tiger, the film remains a tacky bauble: amusing on the surface, but nothing enduring. Music by Gary Chang.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Tsui Hark  (1950 - )

Hong Kong director, producer, writer and actor and one of the most important figures in modern Hong Kong cinema. Hark majored in film in the US, before returning to his homeland to work in television. Made his directing debut in 1979 with the horror thriller The Butterfly Murders, while 1983's Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain was a spectacular ghost fantasy quite unlike anything in HK cinema at the time. Other key films of this period include Shanghai Blues and the brilliant Peking Opera Blues.

Hark established the Film Workshop production house in 1984, and was responsible for producing such groundbreaking films as John Woo's action classics The Killer and A Better Tomorrow, Ching Siu-Tung's A Chinese Ghost Story and New Dragon Gate Inn, and Yuen Woo-Ping's Iron Monkey. In 1991 Hark revitalised the period martial arts genre and launched the career of Jet Li by directing the hugely successful Once Upon a Time in China, which was followed by several sequels.

Like many Hong Kong directors, Hark gave Hollywood a go in the late nineties and directed Jean-Claude Van Damme in Double Team and Knock Off. He returned home soon after to continue directing and producing movies like Time and Tide, the epic effects-fest Legend of Zu and romantic adventure Seven Swords.

 
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