A good de Souza script botched up by chaotic camerawork
Jean-Francois Virey | 59500 DOUAI France | 10/29/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Great film. Lots of action... Lots of... what else?" - Jean-Claude Van DammeHong Kong movies often have impressive stunts and fighting scenes, and the better sort (e.g. Jackie Chan's *Rumble in the Bronx*) sometimes even have good camerawork and photography. What they almost never have, however, is a really good script.*Knock Off* is precisely the opposite: it was written by one of Hollywood's best action screenwriters, Steven E. de Souza, the author of the first two *Die Hard*, among other classics. De Souza knows what drama is about, and if you try to abstract from what you see to what the original script must originally have looked like, you'll realize that behind *Knock Off* is a really good story involving fake designer jeans, Russian nanobombs, a CIA traitor, Hong Kong cops and enough twists and turns to make a highly entertaining story, livened up by a wacky, tongue-in-cheek attitude reminiscent of the author's *Hudson Hawk*.However, seeing that might require much more effort than the ordinary movie-goer is capable of, for visually, the movie is completely spoiled by its director, Tsui Hark, who had done a much more decent job on the *Once Upon a Time in China* series. In the making of, actor Michael Fitzgerald Wong says of Tsui Hark that he "loves chaos". As for Tsui Hark himself, he explains he "tried to make the camera as free as possible", so as to give the impression of a "lunatic rushing through everything". This gives you an idea of his style, which is so epileptic and full of mannerisms that the action often becomes virtually incomprehensible, and that it is sometimes hard to understand who is doing what to whom where.Moreover, the actors obviously lack proper direction, and if Rob Schneider and Paul Sorvino have enough experience to compensate for it, a less trained actor like Van Damme, left to his own devices, becomes a caricature of himself (though, admittedly, this is partly intentional.) Moreover, since the last twenty minutes are just a mindless, uninterrupted Tsui Hark action scene, the film is very likely to leave you with a bad impression, as most of the plot is resolved by the time it begins, and all that is left is for the good guys is to shoot (or blast or crush or dissolve in acid) the bad guys.In my opinion, *Time Cop* remains Van Damme's best movie to this date. But with a better director, *Knock Off* would not have been far behind. I just hope Hollywood will not blame de Souza for the failure.(Hong Kong movie-buffs might be interested to know that the second-unit director on this movie was Sammo Hung and that apart from Michael Wong, there's also a small role for Jeff Joseph Wolfe, who played a sympathetic cowboy in the Dr. Wong movie set in America.)"
Fun Van Damme action...
L. Varnau | Indy | 10/02/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Jean-Claude Van Damme is one of those actors you either are a fan of or you despise. Me? I'm a big fan, so that makes me a little less qualified to rate this film, but I'll review it nonetheless. It takes place in Hong Kong, where the market for "knock offs," or imitations of an original product, is blossoming. Van Damme and Rob Schneider play two business partners who are caught up in a nasty circle with the Chinese mafia, renegade CIA agents, and big bad guys. The action and direction from Tsui Hark is awesome, especially a scene where Van Damme slides around on a boat while beating up bad guys. Rob Schneider is not too annoying in this film, which is a good thing. The bad guy, however, was a bit underwhelming, but his demise works. Van Damme films are never any cinematic accomplishment by any means, but they can be, and usually are, plenty of fun. This is no exception."
BY far Van Damme's worst movie.
L. Varnau | 05/24/1999
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This was one of the worst Jean-Claude Van Damme mavies I have ever seen. The camera angles look good at first but get very annoying right away. Van Damme seems real out of it and is possibly never going to recover from this horrible let down of a film. If you are a Van Damme fan, I recomend that you see it to see how bad he has gotten. If you are not a fan of him then don't waste your time."
Perfect title, eh?
TrezKu13 | Norfolk, VA | 10/02/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"It's not bad enough this movie is bad...but it tries to be artistic. "Tries" is a choice word, because the director couldn't be artistic to save his life. It looks like every scene was improvised with some cornball idea to make it stylized, so to speak. Most stylized movies keep a certain style, but this movie tries every style in the book, from slow-mo to quick cuts to opening up a seperate window to do an object close-up. This lack of solidarity combined with a script that jumps every where makes me forget what the hell is going on every five minutes like I have short term memory.
And you know, I've often wondered since "Universal Soldier 2" if Jean Claude van Damme was trying to turn himself into a white Jackie Chan. This movie being set in Hong Kong and featuring him doing action stunts involving different props pretty much confirms it.
Really not worth watching. I'm writing this review at three o'clock in the morning and that is a better use of my time than watching this movie."
Great Performance by Van Damne
Chase | USA | 12/15/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I rented this movie on video like 4 years ago,my whole family watched it and we were all pleased.And like a year ago i saw it on DVD and i loved watching it again.I think this movie will go in the top 10 of Van Damnes best movie but not the top 5. Im gonna name the top 5 Van Damnes best movies. Kickboxer, Bloodsport,Lionheart,Desert Heat,Hard Target.Im like the biggest Van Damne fan,and this one is worth watching.It deserves****A very good movie."