The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

KNOCK-OFF (1998) ** ½

You have to give Jean Claude Van Damme credit for bringing Hong Kong directors to Hollywood.  If it wasn’t for him, most American moviegoers would never have been exposed to John Woo.  Van Damme also got Tsui (Zu:  Warriors from the Magic Mountain) Hark to direct Double Team and Knock Off but since both films failed miserably at the box office, it  pretty much cost him his theatrical acting career.


Now Double Team was a pretty crappy movie that at least had the benefit of a bat shit insane final act.  Knock Off picks up from that crazed momentum and hits the ground running with a lot of mind-numbing weirdness.  Too bad it runs out of manic energy about halfway through.


Van Damme stars as a dishonest fashion mogul known as the “King of the Knock Offs” whose new line of clothing includes a brand of fake designer jeans.  The Russian mob and crooked CIA agents team up to put tiny explosive devices in the rivets and ship them out to unsuspecting customers.  Rob Schneider co-stars as Van Damme’s business partner, Lela Rochon plays an angry executive from the real jeans company, and Paul Sorvino is the head of the CIA.  None of them are who they seem and end up double-crossing and triple-crossing Van Damme and each other.


Hark films the action in an over-the-top manner and some of the camerawork is just jaw-droppingly bizarre (there is a POV shot of a foot going into a shoe) but the mayhem kinda subsides during the last half-hour and the flick becomes more or less routine.  Although the movie pretty much falls apart at the seams (not unlike Van Damme’s cheap-o jeans), I still maintain that any movie that features explosive jeans, exploding kewpie dolls, underground rickshaw races, shitty CGI close-ups of the inner-workings of cellular phones, a safe that doubles as a rocket launcher, and multiple green explosions can’t be all that bad.  No matter how convoluted and bogged down Knock Off gets, it still has a scene in it where Rob Schneider whips Jean Claude Van Damme on the ass with an eel.  When’s the last time you saw THAT in a movie?


Suggested Drinking Game:  Take a shot every time someone says “knock off” and you’ll be in an alcoholic coma before the film reaches the half-hour mark.

Tags: action, k, kung fu, van damme

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