Jamie, Patrick, and Kyle stare at Lou Cash in shock. “Lou… don’t do this,” Patrick says calmly and Lou scoffs. “Do what? Return order to the world? Stop the chaos that you’ve brought upon us all. Do you remember where the Obsidian Dongle was before you came along?” Jamie and Patrick remember back to their backpacking trip across Europe where they stole the Dongle from some high level terrorists in Budapest. Sure, things had gone a bit awry since those simple days and maybe they’ve overcomplicated everything a little bit, but surely Lou can’t be suggesting that he’d rather see the Dongle in the hands of some high level terrorists. Lou shakes his head sadly. “I knew you wouldn’t understand. Think!” Patrick and Jamie rack their brains and suddenly their mouths go dry. “No…” mutters Jamie, “that’s not true. That’s impossible!” Kyle is now staring wide-eyed at them and quickly flees into the other room. “Are we…” stammers Patrick, “are we now the high level terrorists?” Lou Cash’s eyes are gleaming. He nods his head excitedly, “And it’s only a matter of time till some government comes along with some shiny new Bad Movie Twins and the cycle will begin anew. But it’s not too late. Come… come with me.” Lou hurries them across the hall to his laboratory/apartment. In the middle of the room is what looks like a shiny blue igloo. On the side are painted the words ‘CAUTION: Deconvoluter In Action. Do not even think about using this machine unless absolutely necessary. In particular if you’ve overcomplicated everything and need to deconvolute it. But also, be careful. It’s a time machine.’ Lou is looking at them eagerly. “You ready?” he asks impatiently. “We have no time… this is your quest.” That’s right! We are heading for the end of the year and gotta hit some of the greatest anniversaries. Perhaps the greatest of them all is also a film I’ve seen many times. Why? Because it’s hilarious and I love it. It’s The Quest starring, written, and directed by Jean-Claude Van Damme. Nothing more needs to be said. Let’s go!
The Quest (1996) – BMeTric: 41.8; Notability: 33
StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 10.0%; Notability: top 24.4%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 12.0%; Higher BMeT: Barb Wire, Kazaam, Striptease, Bio-Dome, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace, Ed, The Crow: City of Angels, Hellraiser: Bloodline, The Stupids, Mr. Wrong, Spy Hard, Poison Ivy II, Solo, The Glimmer Man, Eddie, D3: The Mighty Ducks, Maximum Risk, Jingle All the Way, Bordello of Blood, and 5 more; Higher Notability: Eraser, The Fan, Jingle All the Way, Spy Hard, Chain Reaction, Daylight, Mulholland Falls, Eddie, The Associate, Up Close & Personal, Dear God, Sgt. Bilko, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Eye for an Eye, The Crow: City of Angels, The Adventures of Pinocchio, Space Truckers, In Love and War, Larger Than Life, The Glimmer Man, and 41 more; Lower RT: Big Bully, The Dentist, Ed, Ripe, Bio-Dome, Kazaam, Mr. Wrong, Spy Hard, Bulletproof, Eye for an Eye, Solo, Celtic Pride, House Arrest, Mrs. Winterbourne, Two If by Sea, Larger Than Life, Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace, The Glimmer Man, In Love and War, Down Periscope, and 9 more; Notes: It is beyond incredible this film has above 5.0 on IMDb. It might actually be the worst directed film ever made. The stats are kind of okay, but I’m surprised it isn’t in the top 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. The 90s were a wild time.
Leonard Maltin – 2.5 stars – Epic martial-arts story with high-kicking Van Damme as N.Y.C. pickpocket whose efforts to elude police lead him to the Far East and into the most exclusive and prestigious fight in the “world.” Besides Jean-Claude, film features 15 of the world’s greatest martial arts champions. A passable but uninspired directing debut for the star, who also gets story credit.
(My god, the rating is super high as well from Maltin. Also, he’s on a first name basis with “Jean-Claude”? I didn’t know Maltin and him were besties.)
(DuBois!!!!!!!!!! I have to admit, this film has an awesome trailer. Greased up abs, promises serious martial arts action, Roger Moore, Van Damme as a champion. I’m jazzed and I’ve already seen this film multiple times.)
Directors – Jean-Claude Van Damme – ( BMT: The Quest; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screen Couple for Double Team in 1998; and Nominee for Worst New Star for Bloodsport in 1989; Notes: He actually did direct another film. A little film called Full Love (aka The Frenchy aka The Eagle Path), ever heard about it? No?)
Writers – Frank Dux – ( Known For: Bloodsport; BMT: The Quest; Notes: Notorious in the industry for claiming a huge number of impressive martial arts abilities and challenging people to fights. Some people seem to think that these claims might, allegedly, be completely made up.)
Jean-Claude Van Damme – ( Known For: Kickboxer: Vengeance; Kickboxer: Retaliation; Legionnaire; Kickboxer 2: The Road Back; The Order; Future BMT: Kickboxer; Lionheart; BMT: Double Impact; The Quest; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screen Couple for Double Team in 1998; and Nominee for Worst New Star for Bloodsport in 1989; Notes: He ended up with a lot of early story credits because he edited and coordinated things like Bloodsport because he is, it turns out, a kickboxing savant. He wrote a random episode of a French television series called Rani.)
Steven Klein – ( BMT: The Quest; Notes: There is literally nothing about this person in IMDb. Other places seem to suggest he wrote a few more movies, but I bet they are mixing up another person with a similar name.)
Paul Mones – ( Known For: Fathers & Sons; The Beat; Saints and Sinners; BMT: Double Team; The Quest; Notes: Was a small actor, mostly in the 80s, including appearing as J.T. in 6 episodes of The Renegades and the associated television movie (an update of The Renegades))
Actors – Jean-Claude Van Damme – ( Known For: Last Action Hero; The Expendables 2; Bloodsport; Kung Fu Panda 3; Hard Target; Kung Fu Panda 2; The Last Mercenary; Welcome to the Jungle; No Retreat, No Surrender; Timecop; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; Kickboxer: Vengeance; Kickboxer: Retaliation; Black Water; Sudden Death; JCVD; Desert Heat; In Hell; 6 Bullets; Universal Soldier: Regeneration; Future BMT: Street Fighter; Kickboxer; Nowhere to Run; Lionheart; Death Warrant; Breakin’; Maximum Risk; Missing in Action; BMT: Universal Soldier; Double Impact; Cyborg; Double Team; The Quest; Universal Soldier: The Return; Knock Off; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screen Couple for Double Team in 1998; and Nominee for Worst New Star for Bloodsport in 1989; Notes: A genuine karate champion from Belgium, he is misty well known for kickboxing at this point (and the movie that shares the name with that sport). Loves doing splits and often plays characters who are definitely 100% American but have French accents for some reason.)
Roger Moore – ( Known For: For Your Eyes Only; Live and Let Die; The Spy Who Loved Me; Moonraker; Octopussy; The Man with the Golden Gun; The Wild Geese; The Last Time I Saw Paris; The Sea Wolves; Escape to Athena; Shout at the Devil; North Sea Hijack; Caesar and Cleopatra; Gold; That Lucky Touch; The Naked Face; Crossplot; The Carer; Diane; The Miracle; Future BMT: A View to a Kill; The Saint; Boat Trip; Curse of the Pink Panther; Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore; BMT: The Cannonball Run; Spice World; The Quest; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for Spice World in 1999; Notes: James Bond! He died in 2017. His career was a little weird after Bond, but was in stuff like For Your Eyes Only.)
James Remar – ( Known For: Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood; Miracle on 34th Street; Django Unchained; The Girl Next Door; The Warriors; Ratatouille; RED; X: First Class; Pineapple Express; 48 Hrs.; The Blackcoat’s Daughter; Horns; The Phantom; What Lies Beneath; Cruising; USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage; The Long Riders; Lap Dance; Drugstore Cowboy; The Cotton Club; Future BMT: Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Blade: Trinity; The Unborn; Psycho; Duplex; Renaissance Man; Band of the Hand; Persecuted; BMT: 2 Fast 2 Furious; Judge Dredd; Mortal Kombat: Annihilation; The Clan of the Cave Bear; Wild Bill; The Quest; Fatal Instinct; Notes: Dexter’s dad / the guy who gets arrested in The Warriors. Is a television star, most recently in 58 episodes of Black Lightning.)
Budget/Gross – N/A / Domestic: $21,686,547 (Worldwide: $57,400,547)
(Pretty rough. Maybe I should start gathering more information for this. Given I have all of the data already I could do a comp to the director / writers / stars to try and put it in context a bit. Could be fun.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 14% (3/21): Jean-Claude Van Damme makes a forgettable directorial debut with The Quest, a bland retread of better heroes’ journeys.
(Yup. I mean … this is the same story as Bloodsport right? It is just a Kumite by a different name (and no it doesn’t smell as sweet). You like that? That would have been my short review on Rotten Tomatoes: “A Kumite by another name doesn’t smell as sweet.”)
Reviewer Highlight: Interesting only for being so totally familiar, even if you’ve never seen another film about a Ghan-Gheng martial-arts match in an ancient Lost City in Tibet. – Janet Maslin, New York Times
Poster – The Best Quest
(I’d hang that on the wall. Nice color scheme and the framing is interesting. I think probably from an advertising point of view they probably would have wanted to make the fighting part of it bigger, but I don’t have too many faults with it. B+.)
Tagline(s) – Go the distance (D)
A lost city, A man of destiny, A test of honor… (B+)
(The first one is funny cause it almost seems like they meant to name the film The Quest: Go the Distance, which would have been great and terrible. The second one is the real tagline and obviously fits a classic tagline structure. Gotta appreciate it.)
Keyword(s) – martial-arts
Top 10: Dune (2021), Spider-Man (2002), Eternals (2021), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021), The Matrix (1999), Red Notice (2021), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), Die Hard (1988), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Future BMT: 87.7 Street Fighter (1994), 85.6 The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D (2005), 69.3 Seed of Chucky (2004), 62.1 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), 61.3 Scooby-Doo (2002), 59.8 Spawn (1997), 58.6 Scary Movie 2 (2001), 55.9 The Karate Kid Part III (1989), 52.1 Green Lantern (2011), 51.8 You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008)
BMT: Jingle All the Way (1996), Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021), Snake Eyes (2021), Road House (1989), Sucker Punch (2011), Police Academy (1984), The Fast and the Furious (2001), Gods of Egypt (2016), Jupiter Ascending (2015), Battleship (2012), R.I.P.D. (2013), Fantastic Four (2015), 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), Queen of the Damned (2002), Batman & Robin (1997), A Good Day to Die Hard (2013), Hellboy (2019), The Last Airbender (2010), The Predator (2018), X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), Batman Forever (1995), The Three Musketeers (2011), Angel Has Fallen (2019), The Mummy (2017), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), Assassin’s Creed (2016), G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013), Bloodshot (2020), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), Hitman: Agent 47 (2015), Demolition Man (1993), Mortal Kombat (1995), Wild Wild West (1999), Hitman (2007), Eraser (1996), Mechanic: Resurrection (2016), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), The Bodyguard (1992), Johnny Mnemonic (1995), Dragonball Evolution (2009), The Expendables 3 (2014), Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), Young Guns II (1990), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Behind Enemy Lines (2001), I Am Number Four (2011), Epic Movie (2007), Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), The Cannonball Run (1981), Eragon (2006), Conan the Barbarian (2011), Judge Dredd (1995), Gangster Squad (2013), Rambo III (1988), Pompeii (2014), Mile 22 (2018), Predator 2 (1990), Elektra (2005), Meet the Spartans (2008), Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985), Alien vs. Predator (2004), Masters of the Universe (1987), London Has Fallen (2016), Universal Soldier (1992), The Ridiculous 6 (2015), Doom (2005), Rambo (2008), Conan the Destroyer (1984), Catwoman (2004), The Postman (1997), Alex Cross (2012), Howard the Duck (1986), RoboCop 2 (1990), Jason X (2001), This Means War (2012), Æon Flux (2005), Red Dawn (2012)
Matches: Daredevil (2003), The Karate Kid (1984), Road House (1989), Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), The Accountant (2016), Warrior (2011), The Karate Kid Part III (1989), Here Comes the Boom (2012), Mortal Kombat (1995), The Expendables (2010), Charlie’s Angels (2000), Kung Fu Panda (2008), Mission: Impossible II (2000), Street Fighter (1994), Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991), Bloodsport (1988), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
(Jeez, there are a lot of bad films with this keyword. Jingle All the Way … yeah there was martial arts in that. The graph is super fun. I have to imagine the drop off is the same as with any keyword: martial arts films aren’t going to be released to theaters anymore, leaving only films with incidental martial arts getting the keyword.)
Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 14) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Roger Moore is No. 2 billed in The Quest and No. 2 billed in The Cannonball Run, which also stars Burt Reynolds (No. 1 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (No. 5 billed) which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (2 + 2) + (1 + 5) + (3 + 1) = 14. If we were to watch A View to a Kill, and Stand Up Guys we can get the HoE Number down to 13.
Notes – Frank Dux sued Jean-Claude Van Damme over the writing credits of the movie, claiming that Van Damme and he wrote the story under the title “The Kumite: Enter the New Dragon” in 1991. Van Damme denied this, claiming the two projects were unrelated. Dux won his story credit via a ruling of the Writer’s Guild of America, but lost the actual court case. (Wait … so this was literally just a Kumite by another name?)
Producer Moshe Diamant was hoping to get Sir Roger Moore back to work on another of his productions, but Moore declined, after having a difficult time working on this movie.
When the production was running out of money, many of the crew were asked to work for free to keep filming on schedule. The producers promptly found the money for the filming, when said crew laughed at them, and threatened to strike.
Tatum O’Neal claims in her autobiography that she was called personally for the main female role in this movie by Jean-Claude Van Damme, but failed to get the part after a romance between her and Van Damme faltered. (Gross)
In his autobiography “My Word is My Bond”, Sir Roger Moore states that this movie was a disorganized production that was running out of money, due to poor preparation. He credits Second Unit Director Peter MacDonald for bringing it all together. He also wrote that he greatly disliked Jean-Claude Van Damme and producer Moshe Diamant.
Jack McGee broke wind after each take. This drew the ire of Jean-Claude Van Damme, who wasn’t amused, but the rest of the cast and crew, especially Sir Roger Moore, found it hilarious.
Sir Roger Moore was promised “above the title” billing by the producers on the posters, and the movie, but was shocked to see his name was further down in the credits.
The book from which Christopher Dubois is supposedly reading, and closes before the credits roll, has two short paragraphs that seems to resemble the theme of the movie, and then transitions into an ad for luxury yachts. (HA)
Lord Edgar Dobbs (Sir Roger Moore) takes Christopher Dubois (Jean-Claude Van Damme) to Muay Thai Island and sells him. Moore was last on this island while filming the final scenes of The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). These are the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand.
This was the last movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme under his five-movie contract with Universal Pictures.
The French fighter’s martial art in the film is called Savate, and it has an Afro-Brazilian cousin Capoeira (as displayed in the film by the Brazilian fighter facing off against him). Savate has obscure origins, but it is believed to be influenced by Chinese martial arts combined with European and indigenous African fighting arts. One characteristic Savate shares with Capoeira is that the hand was used as a base to kick from. Savate began in southern France in the slums of the port city Marseille. The Greek actor/stuntman Takis Triggelis, who played the French fighter, has trained in Tae Kwon Do, Kickboxing and Muay Thai. Previously, Triggelis did a western film with French actor and fellow martial artist Olivier Gruner that was eponymous with his character’s martial art Savate (aka The Fighter).
Okinawa, while being part of Japan, has its own fighter due to being where karate originated.