Knock Off Preview

The men in Tiniman’s army expect nothing from Rich and Poe. Yeah, they may have toned biceps and abs for days, but they also seem like a couple of rascals who don’t care much for rules. At first it seems like they’re right. “This sucks!” yells Rich, while Poe looks sadly at his nutritionless grub they’re served in the mess. “How are we expected to keep ourselves lean, mean fighting machines without a balanced meal,” he sighs. But soon, they learn the meaning of their military family and come to trust and love their brothers in arms. They aren’t just passable soldiers, they are oddly competent. “Hey Roach,” Rich asks one day, “what are we training for anyway?” Their comrade Roach looks up from polishing his robot legs. “War,” he grunts and gets back a-polishing. He needs those babies gleaming. “War… who are we fighting?” Poe asks, curious now. “Alligator,” Roach grunts. Rich and Poe nod their heads but suddenly look at each other… Alligator. Rich and Poe get as many details as they can from Roach, one grunt at a time. Tiniman’s aim is to conquer the lands to the south. Where a tribe of men have come to live harmoniously with giant alligators. “Unconquerable,” Roach says winking, his legs now gleaming in the sunlight. “My God,” Rich says, “Alligator Steve… this is where he’s from.” Poe gulps, “and we’re going to destroy them.” While their newfound maturity bucks at the idea of betraying their comrades they also know they gotta get out of there… and fast. “What we need is…” Rich begins, but suddenly a shadow passes over them. “Deception,” Roach grunts. Startled, they look up in fear, but Roach is smiling. “Twins,” he says and Rich and Poe smile back. “Knock offs,” they agree. That’s right! We’re watching the JCVD-Rob Schneider buddy cop film about a Hong Kong… uh… fashion designer? Who also does karate or something? And Rob Schneider is a cop… what, what’s happening? Let’s go!

Knock Off (1998) – BMeTric: 55.3; Notability: 29 

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(The notability is higher that I would have expected for a film I never heard of, but not super high for a major release. I’m intrigued. The rating is riding, but sub-5.0 is pretty great with that 50+ BMeTric. This film has a lot going for it from a numbers perspective.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Van Damme teams up with American agents to combat terrorists. Having Van Damme play a Hong Kong clothing designer/importer in an action film pinned to a plot about designer jeans is peculiar but not interesting … which also describes the movie. Director Hark abandons his vivid fight choreography for standard swift intercutting instead. Samo Hung appears unbilled.

(Ha! I love that description. Leonard is just flabbergasted by the B-story which is actually the A-story. The character sounds like Tommy Wiseau in real life.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Txm_I4usB0/

(The trailer is fucking bonkers. Just cut after cut after cut with weird quips (“Goodbye yellow brick road”? It isn’t even that quoting Elton John is out of date, it is that it is just a weird turn of phrase). Explosions, Rob Schnieder saying random words, clearly a bunch of wire-fu which is going to annoy me. I literally cannot wait to watch this ludicrous film.)

Directors – Hark Tsui – (Known For: Detective Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Flame; Journey to the West: Demon Chapter; Once Upon a Time in China; Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings; Seong lung wui; Flying Swords of Dragon Gate; Wong Fei Hung II: Nam yee tung chi keung; Zhi qu wei hu shan; Shu Shan – Xin Shu shan jian ke; Once Upon a Time in China III; Shun liu ni liu; Tit sam gok; Future BMT: Shu shan zheng zhuan; Qi jian; BMT: Double Team; Knock Off; Notes: He is considered a master in martial arts action, and one of the best Chinese directors ever. His production company is one of the biggest Hong Kong film companies in the business.)

Writers – Steven E. de Souza (written by) – (Known For: Die Hard; Commando; Die Hard 2; The Running Man; 48 Hrs.; Ricochet; The Return of Captain Invincible; Future BMT: Street Fighter; The Flintstones; Jumpin’ Jack Flash; Bad Dreams; BMT: Knock Off; Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Judge Dredd; Beverly Hills Cop III; Hudson Hawk; Another 48 Hrs.; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for Hudson Hawk in 1992; Notes: One of the last films he wrote that got a major release. He was only 51 at the time, so I assume he just kind of retired.)

Actors – Jean-Claude Van Damme – (Known For: Bloodsport; The Expendables 2; Kung Fu Panda 2; Kung Fu Panda 3; Kickboxer; Hard Target; Kickboxer: Retaliation; Timecop; Kickboxer: Vengeance; Lukas; Sudden Death; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; JCVD; Enemies Closer; Future BMT: Street Fighter; Derailed; Cyborg; Welcome to the Jungle; The Order; Legionnaire; Double Impact; Maximum Risk; Inferno; Replicant; The Quest; Missing in Action; Pound of Flesh; Black Water; Nowhere to Run; A.W.O.L.: Absent Without Leave; Breakin’; Last Action Hero; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Double Team; Knock Off; Universal Soldier; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screen Couple for Double Team in 1998; and Nominee for Worst New Star for Bloodsport in 1989; Notes: Literally the last film he released prior to starting to mostly release non-theatrical films. Legionnaire would be his next film, and Universal Soldier: The Return was after that and was his last theatrical release for a decade.)

Rob Schneider – (Known For: 50 First Dates; Muppets from Space; Future BMT: The Animal; Norm of the North; Little Nicky; You Don’t Mess with the Zohan; InAPPropriate Comedy; The Hot Chick; Sandy Wexler; Eight Crazy Nights; Surf Ninjas; Mr. Deeds; The Adventures of Pinocchio; You May Not Kiss the Bride; Bedtime Stories; The Waterboy; Big Stan; Down Periscope; Click; Big Daddy; The Longest Yard; Necessary Roughness; Home Alone 2: Lost in New York; BMT: Little Man; Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo; The Ridiculous 6; The Beverly Hillbillies; Knock Off; The Benchwarmers; Judge Dredd; Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo; Grown Ups; I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry; Around the World in 80 Days; Demolition Man; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actor for Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo in 2006; Nominee for Worst Screenplay, and Worst Screen Couple for Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo in 2006; Nominee for Worst Actor in 2007 for Little Man, and The Benchwarmers; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor in 2000 for Big Daddy; in 2008 for I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry; and in 2011 for Grown Ups; and Nominee for Worst Actor of the Decade in 2010 for Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Grandma’s Boy, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Little Man, Little Nicky, The Animal, The Benchwarmers, and The Hot Chick; Notes: This was kind of right in the middle of his starring career, after he had already teamed up with Stallone for Judge Dredd. He is apparently anti-vax, which caused him to be dropped as a spokesperson for State Farm in 2014.)

Lela Rochon – (Known For: Any Given Sunday; Boomerang; Brooklyn’s Finest; Waiting to Exhale; The Big Hit; Gang Related; Why Do Fools Fall in Love; Blood Done Sign My Name; Future BMT: The Meteor Man; Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo; Breakin’; Supremacy; BMT: Knock Off; First Daughter; The Chamber; Harlem Nights; Notes: Right at the top of her peak as a leading lady in film, right around Why Do Fools Fall in Love. She has a degree in broadcast journalism.)

Budget/Gross – $35 million / Domestic: $10,319,915 (Worldwide: $10,319,915)

(Oh wow. Now this can’t possibly be true right? Wouldn’t this, at the very least, get a release in Hong Kong? This came out right as Van Damme’s career was cratering though, so I imagine they only realized it was mostly unreleasable afterwards. Case in point: this came out after Legionnaire.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 8% (3/39): Muddled plot; stiff acting.

(Short and sweet! They seem to kind of agree that it is a little too jokey, but somehow very serious, and … honestly it does sound muddled now that I write it. Reviewer Highlight: Something of a kaleidoscopic mess of a movie, but it has its moments. – Bob Graham, San Francisco Chronicle)

Poster – Sklog Off

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(That is nuts. I find it offensive. What were they even thinking? Case in point: why is “Van Damme” in giant block letters that nearly fade into the background. My eyes hurt. F. Patrick’s Shallow Fake: I think this was the most difficult font I’ve ever undertaken. I’m rather impressed with how okay the background looks behind the letters since I had to rebuild it all. Overall looks pretty good for what is, in fact, a pretty complicated poster.)

Tagline(s) – There is no substitute. (C+)

(It’s a pun… that’s the best you can say about it. Obviously playing on the fact that the story involves a bunch of knock off products and the fact that there is no substitute for Van Damme. But it’s stretching just a bit too far and doesn’t flow.)

Keyword – kickboxing

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Top 10: The Mummy Returns (2001), American Assassin (2017), True Lies (1994), The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), Road House (1989), Tomb Raider (2018), Street Fighter (1994), Say Anything… (1989), Kiss the Girls (1997), The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)

Future BMT: 88.2 Street Fighter (1994), 63.0 Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1997), 61.9 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), 57.6 Cyborg (1989), 43.7 Double Impact (1991), 42.9 Fighting (2009), 41.0 The Quest (1996), 37.3 Nowhere to Run (1993), 26.4 American Assassin (2017), 24.6 A.W.O.L.: Absent Without Leave (1990);

BMT: Road House (1989), Kiss the Girls (1997), Universal Soldier (1992), Double Team (1997), Cradle 2 the Grave (2003), Knock Off (1998)

(Wow, we really loved kickboxing in the 90s! There is something about it. I’ve been doing “research” into non-theatrical stars in my free time, and one of the major conclusions I’ve come to is there are different eras of straight-to-video films. And the 90s was definitely the apex of martial artists being recruited to put out their weirdo non-films.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 14) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Rob Schneider is No. 2 billed in Knock Off and No. 1 billed in Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, which also stars William Forsythe (No. 2 billed) who is in 88 Minutes (No. 5 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 2 + 1 + 2 + 5 + 3 + 1 = 14. If we were to watch The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 12.

Notes – Hong Kong superstar and director Sammo Hung served as the film’s 2nd unit director. The release print of “Knock Off” suffers from the removal of a lot of the martial arts action shot for the film, with a couple of sequences being very heavily edited. The final battle between Jean-Claude Van Damme’s character and Australian actor/stuntman Michael Miller is less than half of the action shot for their fight, and upon careful viewing you can pick up the fact that the fight has raged across several different sections on the boat, while the fight between Jeff Wolfe’s character Scar and Jean-Claude’s is the most heavily edited with more of the action being shown in the “Making Of” featured on several of the DVD editions than in the finished film.

The film is one of the last in the world to feature Kai Tak Airport still in use; the airport closed in 1998.