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(2.5 Stars) His Best in Years But Still Needs Something More
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 04/03/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The title 'Wake of Death,' new film of Jean-Claude Van Damme, is rightly given to the very violent contents. Van Damme plays a bouncer Ben Archer who is quitting his job after seeing what he doesn't want to see for 20 years. But he has a beautiful wife Cynthia (Lisa King, 'Home Alone 4') and a kid at home, and all he wants is just a quiet life.
Anyone who knows some rules about action flicks will detect what will happen to his family when kind-hearted Cynthia (who is an INS officer by the way) takes home a little Chinese girl found among the refugees from China. And the little girl is connected with a Chinese triad, in fact, a daughter of a ruthless boss Sun Quan (Simon Yam, 'Tomb Raider 2'). And these events occur at the night when Cynthia and Ben are sleeping together in bed, showing part of their bodies in the ill-lit room.
[TYPICAL REVENGE STORY] Yes, Van Damme is getting more and more serious these days, as you have seen 'In Hell' recently. 'Wake of Death' goes similar course, but this time it's a revenge story with more violent actions with shoot-outs and car-chases. Though the script is a standard one, one inventiveness is found in the relations between Van Damme's hero and his former associates French mafiosos. These French gangsters give a timely help or two to Van Damme's character in a more bloody fashion than the Italian guys who were seen helping Arnie in 'Eraser.'
So how good is this film? It depends on your expectaions. 'Wake of Death' shows fairly good car stunts and shoot-outs, but the lack of imagination on the director's side is too obvious. My opinion is, it is much better than 'Derailed' (his worst), far below 'Timecop' (arguably his best), on par with 'The Order.' But it's just my idea. The point is, Van Damme shows pretty good acting here, but the actions, or the logics behind them, look awfully disjointed. The bad guy's motive to bring back his daughter at any cost is never explained, and the relations between the characters are very confusing. (Case in point. You get a glimpse of two veteran actors Burt Kwouk, 'Cato' of 'Rerurn of Pink Panther' and Jacqui Chan, 'The World of Susie Wong,' but the moment they appear on the screen, they get killed, without leaving no impression on us.) But most damaging thing is the film's shoddy editing that virtually killed some of the good stunts such as two motorcycles running in a shoppoing mall. I still do not know what happened at certain point of the story.
Philip Martinez, formerly producer of B action films such as 'Dot Kill' or 'House of 9,' gives his second film as director. (Incidentally, his first feature was, the imdb says, 'Citizen Verdict'(03) starring Armand Assante and Jerry Springer!) As to 'Wake of Death' he decided to shoot this film in South Africa though the story is set in America.
Fans of Van Damme might hail the film as his come-back. I don't know, for I still fondly remember joyful thrills when I watched his 'Timecop' or 'Universal Soldiers.' 'Wake of Death' is good as Grade-B, straight-to-video actioner, but it's not good enough for me."
Better than STREET FIGHTER and DERAILED combined!
Dymon Enlow | 07/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I like this new mature Van Damme. First IN HELL and now WAKE OF DEATH they're the best films of his career and he's actually starting to show some genuine acting talent. I hope this trend continues.
Wife/family murdered and son kidnapped Van Damme (or V.D. as I like to call him) is out for revenge. He shoots up a bunch of stuff, runs a drill through a guy's kneecaps, wrecks some cars, cries a few times, drives a motorcycle through a mall, hugs some people, electrocutes a cop and shoots a triad who's tied up point blank in the face with a shotgun.
Honestly I liked this movie quite a bit, the ending was a little anti-climatic, but the cinematography was cool. I'd watch it again which is more than I could say for DOUBLE TEAM.
Van Damme comes back on top with this one.
Dragon | Vegas | 09/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After nearly 7 years of straight to DVD Releases Van Damme finally makes a film thats up there with his old ones. Much like Desert Heat which ressurected his film making he makes another good one.
This movie is about a little girl who witnesses her father kill her mother. She is poorly cared for as are others in her countries when a woman takes her in as her own (Jean Claudes wife) for fear that she may be murdered herself. But when her father realizes what happens he takes action.
He has Jean Claude Van Dammes wife killed and is about to have his son killed when he escapes. When Van Damme gets back he finds his wife dead and he has his brother go searching for the kiler. Van Damme goes on a killing spree killing anyone who was in connection to his wifes death. And finally gets to the big man himself, the one who has his wife killed. In the end he kills him and gets wounded himself.
The main thing that sticks out in this film is Van Dammes acting, not his fighting. It seems like a blah blah story but if you would see his acting its magnificant. He really looks sad when he finds his wife dead, when he kills the people who killed his wife he has tears in his eyes why hes doing it. Like in one scene he beats a man over and over with a pistol and starts to cry why he does it, like getting all the anger out.
This has to be his best acting peroformance of his career. And anyone, and i mean anyone who likes action films needs to see this. Also this movie isnt directed by Jean Claude and it gets with the program for modern movies (it feels like it could of went to theaters) this movie gets a 10/10"
SHOULD HAVE HAD A THEATRICAL RELEASE.
Kyle | Brooklyn, NY United States | 12/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had first heard about this movie over at action kings about 3 or 4 months ago, and after reading about who was directing and the production company, I had little hope for this. Then the trailer came and so did the plot. Wake of Death is Van Damme's latest movie and it is good!
The film takes place in LA. Van Damme plays Ben Archer who is an ex mob enforcer just quiting his job to protect his family. His wife is with the immigration and she takes in a little girl who has snuck onto a boat from China to the US. She ran away because she saw her dad kill her mother right in front of her. So Ben's wife takes her in for a week. Her dad comes to LA and is searching for her. He finds out that she is staying with this lady. He tracks the wife down and kills her brutally. Ben comes to find out what happened and from their he goes on a rampage. Im not going to get into all of the characters involved as from what I said above is the main plot of the movie.
Now as to what I thought of the film. The movie itself is good. Never really slow or boring. The budget was 24 million, but it felt much more to me. This is Van Dammes best yet. His acting is great and he takes his role seriously. All of the other characters were good too! Van Dammes brother was a good actor. I would like to see him in more movies. Sure the plot is not original, but who cares, as it is still an entertaining movie. The movie is bloody throughout. There is one torture seen that is intense, and graphic. But very realistic. Yes there is a car chase, and 2 nice explosions. The explosions I loved because they were not computerized. In Wesley Snipe's latest movie "Unstoppable", they were computerized a little. Not in this movie they weren't and I was glad to see that.
Now my ONLY complaint is a simple one. In most of the DTV's, there is always at 1 thing wrong. Something in the movie is too short and should be expanded. The finale with Vandamme should have been a little bit longer. Even 5 minutes would do it, but the rest of the movie makes up for it. Wake of Death is certainly 1 of the best DTV movies I have every seen. I bought it the first chance I could. Van Damme make more movies like this!"