Here’s a great idea: Let’s have the director of “Double Team” make another movie with Jean-Claude van Damme, but this time working with a script by Street Fighter writer/director Steven E. de Souza. Let’s also add in Rob Schneider in as Van Damme’s co-star, because that man stands synonymous for good humor and quality acting. The result is Knock Off, one of the stupidest Van Damme movies to be made.
Van Damme plays Marcus Ray, a Hong Kong fashion designer, who previously was involved in knock-off merchandise, but now is a Sales Rep for V SIX Jeans together with Tommy Hendricks (Schneider). Apparently someone is creating knock off versions of their jeans using those jeans, as well as some other stuff like toys, to smuggle highly explosive micro bombs and it’s up to Marcus, Tommy and their supervisor Karen Leigh to find out who’s behind this and stop them.
So you probably started scratching your head the moment you read the words “Van Damme” and “Fashion Designer” in one sentence, and I can’t blame you. Knock Off is a pretty bad movie due to a nonsensical script and bad direction. It’s filled with goofy stuff which on occasion is fun but in the end doesn’t make much sense; like that weird race in which Marcus apparently walks on very low quality knock-off “Pummas”. I know these were handed to him, but why wouldn’t he and Tommy just by the real deal?
The script doesn’t make sense at all. Apparently the grand scheme here is to smuggle these micro bombs into the US in every day knock off products. Then when enough products have been spread throughout the US they plan to extort the government into paying 100 million dollars every month or else they will set off all the bombs creating a massacre. What I didn’t mention was that both Tommy and Karen turn out to be CIA agents, but they don’t even know it from each other and their supervisor Harry Johanson (Paul Sorvino) is behind the entire extortion scheme together with the Russians. This made me wonder: if you run an operation of which the success partially depends on not having the authorities finding out then why would you put agents on the case? At first it’s just Tommy, but then he even sends in Karen. Why? Do you want some flies in the ointment? Marcus, in the meanwhile isn’t pivotal to the plot but is mostly used to end up in action sequences which focus on his physical abilities. And because he few up in Hong Kong he;s naturally a better fighter than two trained CIA agents. Go figure.
Director Hark Tsui once again incorporates strange camera and cutting effects in action scenes. They don’t add anything and I found them to be rather annoying. The explosions the bombs create are green making them look very surreal and fake. The only redeeming factor here is Van Damme who gives his all in every scene. He climbs up poles, he slides between shipping containers and what not. In fact, this is probably the closest Van Damme has ever come to Jackie Chan.
After watching Knock Off I was left with one question: what’s Hark Tsui’s obsession with Asian dance music? Double Team ended with this really weak dance song and the first time we meet Van Damme in Knock Off he’s singing to a similar terrible tune on the radio.