Double Impact: the first movie to feature Van Damme in a dual role, something he would do again in Timecop, Maximum Risk, Replicant and The Order, but strangely though not in a movie called Double Team. Considering the other half of the team consisted of Dennis Rodman in that movie, it might have been wise to do a dual role in it as well. In this movie Van Damme plays identical twins Chad and Alex, separated when their parents were assassinated, sixths months after their birth which resulted in them being raised in different parts of the world. Chad in France and Alex in a french monastery in Hong Kong. This would explain the accents of both brothers being identical despite never having seen each other. Van Damme might be too large for just one role in a film, his thespian skills aren’t sufficient enough for him to take on two different accents.
Because they grew up apart Double Impact mostly focuses on the differences between the two while looking alike. Chad, who grew up in France but now operates a gym in California, is a more feminine man; teaching a group of women yoga, wearing black silk underwear and walking around in pastel colored clothing. Alex is the opposite; he’s a smuggler in Hong Kong, chomps cigars, wears black and has his hair full of product. What they do have in common is that they both can perform some nifty martial-arts.
At its core Double Impact is a mere revenge movie. The twins were separated at birth because their father created a tunnel with aid of the Triads. After it was completed they tried to murder the entire family, but bodyguard Frankie rescued Chad from the gangster, while Alex was rescued by a nanny. When Frankie finds Alex alive and well in Hong Kong he lets Chad in on the fact that he has a brother and the three of them go out on a quest to bring down the men responsible for their parents’/employers’ deaths.
I consider Double Impact to be the last movie of Van Damme’s early period, before he starred in bigger budget movies like Universal Soldier and reaching a larger audience. It’s fun to see how these movies became more ambitious with every installment. From a simple small low-budget movie about a tournament (Bloodsport) to a movie that now has money enough for some impressive set pieces, explosions, chases through Hong Kong and the destruction of two Mercedes cars. On the other hand, this is still a simple martial-arts movie. It always ends up with two, or in this case four people since there are two Van Dammes, that have a final showdown. It’s always funny how in a movie where bad guys have no problem killing an infant with a gun, they suddenly go one on one without the use of guns out of some form of honor. Double Impact has such a scene where Bolo Yeung’s character gives Van Damme the chance to get up after surprising him. They both then, for no reason other than prove their manhood, rip their shirts of and flex their muscles. All that was missing was a bit of porn music.
Women in martial arts movies don’t get a lot to do most of the time. In this movie there’s Alonna Shaw who plays the girlfriend of Alex and the reason why there is some tension between the brothers since Alex is sure that Chad is doing her. This is visualized by Alex in fantasy sequence where Chad has sex with her. In the mean time he’s getting drunk and when he sees his brother again it’s Van Damme against himself in a fight that has been neatly done with trick photography and smart editing. Too bad miss Shaw has had some badly done surgery to enlarge her breasts, these are not to prettiest boobies to say the least.
Double Impact delivers on the promise it made. It gives us two Van Dammes in an entertaining movie that never tries to be more than it is. An early 90s action movie made on a low budget. This isn’t a classic like Bloodsport, nor as memorable as Kickboxer, but it’s just a fun way to spend 105 minutes.