Alex and Chad are just wee lads when their parents are gunned down in Hong Kong. Years later, Chad’s guardian finds Alex and decides it’s time for them to team up and get back what is rightfully theirs. But can lame-o Chad and rough-around-the-edges Alex really take down the baddies before it’s too late? Find out in… Double Impact.
How?! Alex and Chad are tiny twin babies when their genius daddio builds a smoking hot tunnel in Hong Kong that’ll earn big bucks for days. Unfortunately his skeezy business partner has his eyes on that sweet tunnel action and teams up with the mob to take them out. In the process Chad is saved by their bodyguard, Frank, while Alex is taken to an orphanage by their nanny. Fortunately for the viewer it’s made very clear that they are both taken in by the French so that we wouldn’t spend any brainpower wondering how both Alex and Chad have French accents. Phew. Years later Chad is kind of a lame-o scoping on chicks in LA while impressing them with his splits (they are impressive, though). Frank finds Alex in Hong Kong living as a smuggler and thinks it’s time to take that super money making tunnel back! They fly to Hong Kong where Chad is kinda shocked by how everyone seems to know him. It’s only after a beautiful lady comes onto him, earning him a punch in the mouth from Alex, does he realize that he’s a t-t-t-twin?! Wha?! Alex is not super interested in fighting Griffith, who employs his girlfriend Danielle, but after Alex is beat up by the mobsters Griffith works with he starts to help out. After stealing a big shipment from the mob and then hitting up a party with some explosives, they become targets. They escape to an abandoned resort where Chad gets contacted by Danielle who is in trouble. He heads off to pick her up which makes Alex crazy with jealousy. When Chad finally returns the brothers split up in anger narrowly avoiding the mob who, having followed Chad, have arrived to take them out. Finding out that Frank and Danielle have been taken hostage they track them to a shipyard where they put their martial arts skillz to good use and kill all the bad guys and inherit their drop dead gorgeous money making tunnel. THE END.
Why?! The tunnel baby! They want that gd tunnel and they want it now. I kinda laughed at this idea, but in fact the Cross-Harbour Tunnel was built privately with the contract stating that those that built it would collect tolls for 30 years from the start of construction before the contract went over to the Hong Kong government. So this would mean by killing Griffith (and thus inheriting the bridge… I think? I don’t think that’s how this works) they would have had eight more years of those sweet tolls to gobble up.
Who?! Obviously an important film in the “actors portraying two characters” canon. However, I think the most interesting aspect of the cast is that this was the last film for which JCVD got a “fight coordinator” credit. He got it for Kickboxer and Lionheart in the two years before this as well. I can only assume this was a way he could make more on the film when they were still relatively small time affairs. After this he moved onto things like Universal Soldier.
What?! Is the tunnel a MacGuffin? I would argue no as generally a MacGuffin must hold power and allure in a way where the audience is meant to not care or understand anything more about it. Generally it’s like a staff or machine with a weird name or interesting properties. This is a tunnel. We know its allure (money bags with green dollar signs painted on them) and we know its power (the power over your time, literally the greatest power of them all).
Where?! Hong Kong quite literally for days. We get a brief scene in LA, but otherwise the city gets to shine in all its glory as we see Victoria Harbour in a lot of detail. Much like JCVD’s Knock Off we get a sense that the mob/smuggling/underworld aspect of the city holds particular interest for these east meets west martial arts mash ups. A.
When?! I do think this takes place in modern day. The beginning of the film would take place August 2, 1972, when the tunnel opened, and it makes sense that they are about 19/20 years old when we see them attempting their big comeback. Chad in particular played it like an early 20-something just wanting to teach aerobics and woo the ladies with his splits.
I found the film to be a little boring as it dived into the murky waters of private tunnel ownership. In a lot of ways it felt like a 60’s film like an old James Bond or something. Didn’t feel particularly modern and so the story kinda dragged. But JCVD was surprisingly good in the dual role. He really acted his buns off (and his buns did their fair share of acting as well) to the point where I think it overcame some of the faults to at least be interesting from a JCVD point of view. I also really appreciated the fact that they didn’t play a bunch of games when it came to the dual role. One of the twins didn’t die early or have an accident requiring them to wear gauze on their face the whole time or anything. Lots of split screens, lots of body doubles, lots of fun (that’s the tagline for this review). As for Twisted Pair, I’ll let Patrick tell most of the story, but given our first taste of Niel Breen I have to say that it tasted very Breen. The movie makes no sense and at times you wonder if perhaps you are doing something unsavory by taking such a glimpse into the mind of a madman. But still, if you can get your hands on the film it’s a wild ride. I can certainly see the fascination people have with him and it’s actually pretty impressive that he’s made more than a few films with similar bad movie qualities. Usually bad movies of The Room kind are one hit wonders. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Am I seeing double? Double … impact?! Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – If I’m being honest I’m still not really very familiar with Van Damme’s filmography. That might seem like sacrilege, but I just never was very into martial arts films in general. I once went to a Van Damme movie marathon which is fun. But obviously you stick to the classics there: Hard Target, Time Cop, and Sudden Death. I’ve seen a bunch of them, but the early films and anything past 1999 are still mostly a mystery. But obviously “the one where he plays his own twin” was always an eventual must watch for the Bad Movie Twins. What were my expectations? I suppose I expected it to be a silly half-assed garbage film? I don’t know. Sudden Death is an incredibly hilarious film, especially the final helicopter scene. So why can’t this be the same?
The Good – The split screen and movie magic moments are actually halfway decent. If this was a kids’ movie or something I would say it actually is a pretty effective gimmick. I also just mostly like this style. Much like Knock Off it feels very much like a Hong Kong crime film of the time. Unlike Knock Off I assume the crew filming in Hong Kong spoke english which possibly explains why the film felt of higher quality. And while the acting was pretty dire top to bottom I want to give a shoutout to both Bolo Yeung and Corinna Everson who were some very fun body builder bad guys. Yeung is amazing. His body-builder-martial-artist body is really just a sight to behold. Best Bit: Two Van Dammes.
The Bad – The film is kind of boring and, indeed, kind of just feels like a pretty silly Hong Kong crime film of the time. That isn’t a terrible thing on its own, it is just a tad bit more self-serious that you might expect from a “Van Damme Is a Twin!!” film. As mentioned the acting is particularly bad. It is too bad Van Damme could never really get a handle on his accent in the 90s. If he could have pulled off the American accent (and I think they did try for a scene or two in the beginning) and got himself into a more mainstream film as the bad guy, I think he would have had a bit more longevity in his career. Fatal Flaw: Too self-serious.
The BMT – It’s probably one of the quintessential bad twin films ever made. The one where Van Damme plays his own twin. Getting a fuller picture of Van Damme’s career is always fun, as is getting introduced to the world of Hong Kong cinema (even through what is ostensibly an American version of it). I don’t think it’ll really be remembered alongside The Quest and other great-bad Van Damme films, but it is still an interesting turning point in his career as Ebert astutely noted in his review at the time.
Roast-radamus – There is for real an odd number of Johnnie Walker bottles strewn around this film, so it does feel like a Product Placement (What?), although maybe the crew just really like Johnnie Walker. Loving the Setting as a Character (Where?) for Hong Kong, the seedy underworld of smuggling once again playing a major role in a Van Damme film. Is Vengeance a MacGuffin? I don’t think so. And I’ll toss this out as probably closest to Good, although I do think it is a rare film where you could argue for any of the three superlatives.
StreetCreditReport.com – I can’t really speak to any official cred (beyond being a twin film, and according to IMDb directly inspiring the film Twin Dragons which is amusing), but unofficially it was listed on an Over the Top Action Film list and a Guilty Pleasure Action Film list on IMDb, which I think is a fairly accurate description of the film. Although I’d argue there are multiple bad Van Damme films which are more entertaining than this one.
Bring a Friend Analysis – This was a very special week at BMTHQ. For this week we watched our very first Neil Breen film, Twisted Pair. Breen is the relatively new kid on the bad movie block. A real estate agent (or something) from Las Vegas, his films are notable in that he typically stars as a messianic figure. This is his latest film, and I have a hard time with it. Mostly the film is spectacular trash. The kind of thing only a delusional weirdo could produce and release to the world unironically. But is it ironic? It might be, he certainly has made enough films to know people are watching them ironically. Is Breen a bad person? Impossible to tell. Much like Tommy Wiseau, he seems to enjoy his notoriety while also keeping his personal life and business much to himself. The film is insanity, pure and simple, and was mostly fun to watch in order to speculate on Breen’s relationship with the actors on set and Nevada State University. The storyline is almost impossible to parse, though, and mostly dull. I would say that the only kind of Room-ish bit of the film is the fake rape scene in the beginning, which genuinely makes one wonder about Breen’s mental state. The rest is just an exercise in seeing what happens when a probable narcissist gets hold of a quality film camera. B+. If the film was more readily available I would say the Breen filmography is probably worth a watch just to see the current state of the art bad movie production in action. But at the moment this one in particular is a little too hard to get, so I have to dock it points.
Twin Analysis – Oh boy, as far as Double Impact is concerned this might be one of the best twin films ever. It’s got it all. The harsh brooding twin, the fun loving happy twin, twins separated at birth creating a real fish out of water scenario combined with a real odd couple scenario. The entire film revolves around the twins and avenging their parents. And complete with twin fighting twin and multiple split screens throughout the film creating two Jean Claude Van Dammes. Never have there been twins so adept at side splits! I’m giving it an A+. Boom done it. Then as for Twisted Pair you have the opposite problem in a way. At first blush it would appear to be the perfect twin film. Good/evil twin dynamics for days. Twins all over the place including a very bad split screen. And perhaps a twin-centric story with the good twin battling the bad twin … or is it? Is the storyline actually about the twins? I mean, they were both inexplicably granted magic abilities, just one of them fell out of Messiah Academy / Spy School and became a vigilante drug addict … or something like that. And in the end the story seems to be much much more about Good Breen laying waste to some international deep state conspiracy (or something, again, the storyline is impossible to parse). I feel obligated to give this an A- … but is the story actually about twins? Or is the movie just two twin brothers’ mostly disjointed stories smushed together? Scientists maintain we may never know.