Bullet Points: Double Impact
On the surface, it would seem that Double Impact should have been two times greater than any Jean-Claude Van Damme movie that preceded it. After all the movie had TWICE the Van Damme that Bloodsport or Kickboxer or Lionheart had.
Things are not always as they appear, especially in Hollywood. And while I wouldn’t consider it twice as good as some of his early star establishing performances, Double Impact was highly entertaining and was a pivotal movie in the career of Jean-Claude Van Damme as it was the movie that bridged Van Damme’s early work with some of his bigger budget and more high profile films like Universal Soldier and Timecop. Van Damme turned down the lead in Kickboxer 2 to star in Double Impact, this proved to be a good career move for JCVD and helped give Sasha Mitchell some steady action work.
- The Premise: Infant twins, Chad and Alex Wagner, are separated after their parents are murdered in Hong Kong by a greedy business associate of their father. Chad Wagner (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is rescued by his “Uncle Frankie” (Geoffrey Lewis) and the two eventually make their way to the United States where they run a gym. Meanwhile, Alex Wagner (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is left at a local orphanage in Hong Kong, eventually turning to a life of crime as his way to make a living. Years later, when Frank learns that Alex is still alive, he and Chad head to Hong Kong where the brothers are reunited and Frank reveals their past to them and helps the brothers get revenge on the men who slaughtered their parents… but first he has to get them to stop hating one another.
- Opposites Attack: Despite being twin brothers, Chad and Alex could not be more different thanks to their very different upbringings. Chad Wagner is much more refined having been schooled in Europe. Chad is also fashion savvy, not afraid to walk around public in pastels, unlike his rough around the edges brother Alex. Alex Wagner got his schooling out on the streets of Hong Kong and he keeps his fashion choices simple and color choices in varying shades of black. And while Chad can be often seen with a big smile on his face, Alex is rarely scene without a cigar in his mouth and a scowl on his face. The real coincidence here is how the brothers have kept themselves in identical shape. What are the odds they have similar diets and workout routines despite being world’s apart!?!?
- A Rogue’s Gallery: With two Van Dammes and Geoffrey Lewis providing some reputable back up as Frank Avery (former bodyguard of the Wagner family and Chad’s adopted father figure), Double Impact needed to really stack the deck in terms of the movie’s villains. We have the evil business man who betrayed the Wagner Family, Nigel Griffith (played by Alan Scarfe of Lethal Weapon 3 and Iron Eagle II fame). Then there’s the gangster that Griffith is in bed with, Raymond Zhang (played by Phillip Chan of Bloodsport and Police Story 3: Supercop fame) and providing the muscle is a man that many (including me) feel is JCVD’s greatest villain ever… Bolo Yeung. In Double Impact, a scar faced Yeung plays Moon and gets his long awaited rematch against JCVD in one of the movie’s big climatic showdowns.
- Boba Fett: But Moon isn’t the only muscle on the side of evil, we can’t forget Double Impact’s resident bodybuilder chick Kara (played by Corinna Everson). The Kara character reminds me of Double Impact’s version of Boba Fett. She doesn’t have a ton of screen time, but Kara connected with the audience none the less and really maximized her minutes (maybe it was the girl on girl action?!?!). Cory Everson was the real deal too as she was a multi-time IFBB Ms. Olympia before she made the jump to acting.
Double Impact challenged Van Damme to not only play dual roles but get out of his “martial arts movie” comfort zone he had been in up to that point. Double Impact had its share of martial arts action, but there were also other action movie elements incorporated (like guns and explosions) into what was Van Damme’s first action thriller.
My only gripe with the film, after watching it for the first time in years, is how some of the digital effects used to create the illusion of two Van Damme’s on the screen at the same time don’t really hold up. I am sure this was due to today’s high def technology and how it can really put a spotlight on budget constraints from decades earlier. But any real Van Damme fan can look past the technical shortcomings and enjoy what really was a career changing film for JCVD!
Time to double the number of Bullet Points in this review with these bonus Double Impact Bullet Points…
- Mousse Cholak: Which Wagner uses more product in his hair? Alex or Chad?
- If You Ever: …wanted to hear Jean-Claude Van Damme say the phrase “black silk underwear” then this is the movie for you.
- Boobtastic Voyage: When a drunken Alex is having visions of his girlfriend Danielle making love to his brother Chad, we get to see an ample amount of Danielle’s ample bosoms.
- Reunited: Double Impact reunited Van Damme with Director Sheldon Lettich, who also directed Van Damme in Lionheart. Lettich was also the director of a personal favorite of mine, Only the Strong!