Double Impact (1991)

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Two brothers separated by violence. Now together on a mission of vengeance.

Reviewed by Simon Drake

Directed by Sheldon Leittich
Starring Jean Claude Van-Damme, Geoffrey Lewis and Bolo Yeung.

    Two twins, separated at birth, team up 30 years later to go and kick the crap out of a evil Hong Kong business man who murdered their father.
    In terms of plot, that’s it…But wait. There’s comedy too. Chad (Van-Damme number one) is a camp yoga teacher (who can also do the splits and Kick-box) and Alex (Van-Damme number two) is a hardened cigar smoking arms smuggler in Hong Kong (who can also do the splits and kick-box). And they are often mistaken for each other…With hilarious circumstances.

What’s wrong with it?

    It’s a Van-Damme film, so suffers from all the usual failings. Risible scripts lumpy direction. Hackneyed fight scenes and Van-Damme’s arse.

What’s right with it?

    For once there is a streak of self-deprecating humour running through the film, which actually works for it, especially as Van-Damme has a tendency to take himself way too seriously. Bizarrely enough when he’s playing the camp twin and mincing about in hardened sailor bars wearing pink shorts and a lavender shirt, he actually comes as near to acting as I think he’s got. Maybe he has previously unharnessed comic potential? Then when it comes to his trademark fights scenes, quips and shootouts, he suddenly starts to emote like a slab of beef.

How bad is it really?

    Well it’s one of the better Van-Damme films…Read into that what you will.

Best Bit?

    The Van-Damme versus evil mook (Bolo Yeung) scene. Basically it turns into some kind of shirtless Homoerotic-mating dance. "You show me your abs, I’ll show you mine".

What’s up with?


Production Values – Standard beat-um-up locales. Hong Kong dockside, chase through shantytowns, boats exploding. The two Van-Dammes in one scene are (as usual) quite poor (and there’s the comical, look-unalike double for the ‘over the shoulder shots). 12

Dialogue and performance – Van-Damme plods through the film lamping people in the face. He has an epic "I’ve just killed my first person" expression; it looks like he is constipated. The women are there to get naked and/or kidnapped. The baddies stab, shoot and torture people in that unrelentingly evil kinda way. The script is written by Van-Damme, so you can except to hear such ‘bon-mots’ as "Fuck you Mutherfucker!" after a bad guy is creamed. 15

Plot and execution – Avenging angel twins beat up evil mooks…Lamp! Lamp! Lamp! The end. More beer anyone? 16

Randomness – Other than why Chad thinks it’s cool to wear pink shorts and turtle neck jumpers like some ‘man at C&A’ refugee. 4

Waste of potential – Two Van-Dammes for the price of one. They get their prospective arses out, do the splits and whale on evildoers for 90 minutes. That is pretty much all that Van-Damme fans want to see in their films. Job done. 9

Overall 58%


The Mummy Returns (2001)

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The most powerful force on earth is about to be unleashed by the two people who should know better.

Directed by Stephen Sommers
Starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Oded Fehr, Patricia Velasquez and The Rock

    In the dim and distant past, a mighty warrior named the Scorpion King (Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson) sells his soul to the god Anubis (in this film, very much playing the part of Satan), and leads an army of jackal-warriors to conquer the known world.

    Back in the now, Rick and Evie O'Connell recover the Bracelet of Anubis, which affixes itself to their son, Alex (Freddie Boath), and grants him a vision to lead him to the secret Oasis of Am-Sher where the Scorpion King and his treasure lie. They are attacked by forces working for the evil Curator of the British Museum (Alun Armstrong) and the reincarnation of Imhotep's (Vosloo) lost love, Ankh-su-namun (Velasquez), who seek to resurrect the Mummy so that he can go to the Oasis, defeat the Scorpion King, gain command of Anubis' army and destroy the world.

    Abducting the boy, Imhotep's forces set out, pursued by the O'Connells, Evie's still-dissolute brother, Jonathon (Hannah), the Medjay warrior - Fun Facts to Know and Tell: Many people watching the original heard 'magi', to the point that the Danish subtitles translate it as 'wise men' - Ardeth Bey (Fehr, whose character was only named in the credits of the first movie), and Rick's former partner, Izzy, an aviator with a rocket-powered dirigible. Bey claims that a mysterious tattoo - which Egypt nut Evie has never apparently made anything of - on Rick's wrist marks him as a Medjay; a holy warrior against darkness. The heroes track the bad guys to the Oasis, where Evie is killed and resurrected, so that she can battle Ankh-su-namun while her husband goes toe-to-toe first with Imhotep, then the Scorpion King - a big, bad CGI - and Bey and his fellow Medjay battle the 'only kill them if you cut their heads off' Anubis warriors. The heroes win, the Scorpion King and the Anubis warriors are dragged back to hell, and Izzy rescues the rest from the collapsing Oasis.

What's wrong with it?

    1999's The Mummy was a superbly-crafted piece of action-adventure fluff, but despite reassembling the same cast and crew for the sequel, Stephen Sommers fails to recapture the spirit of the original. The plot winds with excessive complexity for its depth, and a lot of the best set-pieces are just recreations of scenes from the original, like the killer wave that is just a damp version of The Mummy's sand wall. The pygmy mummies in the hidden Oasis are just plain random, and smell like velociraptors as they pursue hapless idiots through the long grass. There's also just a whole bunch of crap that one feels might have come up during the course of the first movie.
    The end credits kind of sum up the film's failings. Where The Mummy closed with a gentle, dignified tune, and the credits fading in and out on ancient walls, the sequel ended with a mess of flashing screens and over-zealous music. Also, Alan Silvestri's score just falls terribly short of Jerry Goldsmith's original.

What's right with it?

    Some of the set pieces are very nice, and there is some good action going on. The performers are all pretty decent, and even the sproggly Boath isn't too annoying. Oded Fehr as Ardeth Bey once more snags the 'coolest moment in the movie' award for the flying scimitar Anubis warrior decapitation.

How bad is it really?

    The Mummy Returns falls firmly into the category of 'not bad, but could do so much better'. The plot is convoluted in a way that only detracts from the film's highlights, landing this effort with a 'could do better'.

What's up with...?


Production Values - Generally speaking, pretty damn good; which just makes the Scorpion King look that much lamer by comparison. 7

Dialogue and performances - The problem with the script of this film is not in its dialogue, which is generally speaking pretty snappy. The actors also do the lines justice, giving credible and charismatic performances. Given that pretty much everyone was reprising a role they had played before, it is perhaps unsurprising that they seem very comfortable with their characters and relationships. 5

Plot and execution - The Mummy Returns has a major plot problem. Not that there's too little, but that there's too much. The movie dashes around from place to place, and in the first viewing at least is actually pretty confusing. The basic gist is simple enough, but it rambles so much that you get lost, and at times just stop caring. 13

Randomness - Sacred tattoos, pygmy mummies, rocket-powered dirigibles. Yeah, this film has some randomness. 16

Waste of Potential - As the sequel to a far superior film, The Mummy Returns clearly wastes some potential, but this is somewhat alleviated by the fact that it is struggling against the law of diminishing returns. Besides, at least it did not try to be a sequel with none of the original cast. 10

Overall 49%


Razor Blade Smile (1998)

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Reviewed by James Holloway

Director: Jake West
Stars: Eileen Daly, Christopher Adamson

Keywords: so bad it's good, so bad it hurts (The Prophet), unnecessary angst, gratuitous sex, egregious violence / gore, pitiful attempts at cool, hip soundtrack, unacceptable pretensions

    Lilith Silver (Daly, and that name should give you an idea of the kind of film we're dealing with here) is a 19th century (I guess) woman who shoots Sethane Blake (Adamson), a vampire who kills her lover (or someone) in a duel. The bullet doesn't affect him much, but he's so moved by her bravery or something that he turns her into a vampire. Skip forward to the present where Lilith is a hitwoman assassin-type person in a dodgy leather catsuit. She's assassinating members of a mysterious organization called the Illuminati who wear cheap novelty gift rings. Their leader appears to be none other than - gasp! - Sethane Blake again, and he sets his pet police inspector, Price (Jonathan Coote) on her. We follow Lilith around as she kills people, has sex with people (and kills them), gets in trouble with the law, etc., until eventually she goes after Blake in a big showdown with a super-ass lame twist ending.

What's wrong with it?

    "Lilith Silver?" At one point, she goes into a Goth club and in the background they're playing - shock horror! - "Bela Lugosi's Dead." Interminable pompous ham voice-overs. Effects that would disgrace a Hammer film. Lilith's ridiculous internet chat-room thingy. Silver's boyfriend is called Platinum. Someone claims to admire Price's - my hand to god - "dogged determinism." The sex scenes manage to combine being really pretty unerotic with feeling sleazy and vile. The vampires are into the head-cutting-off thing, so you get to see what Highlander would be like if no one involved could fence worth a damn.

What's right with it?

    Price. He rocks. Sent to take out the vampire, he's initially sceptical, but when shown evidence he gets right down to whittling stakes and chewing garlic. When Lilith wounds him with one of his own stakes, he steals some PCP from evidence and takes it so as to feel invulnerable. And when Blake offers to reward him for his good service by turning him into a vampire, he tops himself rather than have to put up with these wankers for all eternity. Having seen the film, I know how he feels...

How bad is it really?

    If you're a Goth moron, or ironically post-Goth, it's probably pretty enjoyable. For the rest of us, it's just unbearable.

Best bit:

    Well, if it isn't any of Price's bits, it's the part where Lilith is creeping into a house and her catsuit creaks. Which, if you think about it, they probably do if you don't have a good sound editor.

What's up with...?


Production values: Feeble. Shoddy camera work, poor lighting, bargain-basement effects (including the infamous "blue-for-night" filter). 15

Dialogue and performance: Execrable. Horrible, horrible overacting, particularly among the vampires. The appalling, pig-ignorant dialogue doesn't help. 20

Plot: Weak. The core plot - secret society hunts vampire - is pretty consistent, but it tends to wander at length, usually when the director realizes it's been 20 minutes and it's time for another fight or sex scene. 16

Randomness: well, not that much, really. It's a pretty hackneyed vampire story, with only the individual eccentricities of the characters to make it strange. 10

Waste of potential: I don't know about this. I mean, it's a pretty weak premise, and it's not like we were expecting much. 10

Overall: 71%