Double Impact (1991)

Instead of one Jean-Claude Van Damme, why not have two? It ended up being a trope so popular that the actor would return to it several times — ReplicantMaximum Risk, even Timecop to some degree all involve multiple versions of the action star.

Here, he plays Chad & Alex Wagner. Chad has grown up in Los Angeles as the son of privilege while Alex was raised on Hong Kong, giving him a much rougher edge. Van Damme wanted to play twins to help change his image. “One of them is violent and the other is not, so the audience can see the contrast in my work,” he said. “This picture has comedy, romance, a love story. So it is not all action and fighting. When I fight on screen, I blend dancing and fighting. Grace plus power is very nice.” Of the two, the actor said that he was closer to Chad than Alex, saying, “In real life I am not this cold, quiet guy who goes around kicking butt.”

Years ago, Paul Wagner and Nigel Griffith opened the Hong Kong Victoria Harbour tunnel. On the way home, Paul tells his bodyguard, Frank Avery (Geoffrey Lewis) to go home, but as soon as that happens, the Triads attack. Paul is killed and his wife begs for the lives of her children. “What are you going to do to my babies?” she asked of the evil Moon, played by Bolo Yeung. “You’ll never know,” he responds, blowing her away with a shotgun. You have to love just how evil the bad guys are in a Van Damme movie.

The maid is able to escape with Alex, leaving him in a Hong Kong orphanage whole Frank is able to rescue Chad, bringing him to the United States, where they run a martial arts studio. This leads to a magical scene where Van Damme wows an entire room of women by doing one of his amazing splits in front of them.

Frank takes Chad to Hong Kong to meet his brother so that they can get revenge on Griffith and get their part of the royalties from the tunnel. However, Chad’s girlfriend Danielle Wilde ends up coming between the two, who are as opposite as can be.

Will the brothers get along at the end? Of course, they will. But along the way, they’re going to battle one another as well as an array of bad guys. Beyond Yeung, there’s also Corinna Everson, who was Ms. Olympia for six years in a row. She’s also the sister of Cameo Kneuer, who hosted WBF Body Stars, the TV show that sold Vince McMahon’s ill-fated World Bodybuilding Foundation. She plays the evil Kara, who can’t stop harassing Danielle throughout the film.

Double Impact was made at a time before CGI. That means that a lot of the film was completed with doubles and camera trickery, which is pretty awesome. The making of the film videos on the new MVD collector’s edition blu ray goes into detail on how this was accomplished thanks to Jeff and Jerry Rector, identical twins who doubled for Van Damme.

Like all of MVD’s releases, this blu ray is great. It’s packed with extras, like the two making of docs, never before seen behind the scenes features, trailers and even an enclosed movie poster. They’ve also released Black Eagle and Lionheart in this format. It’s awesome that they were able to get Van Damme to sit down and share his feelings on what it was like to make this movie.

Plus, you get most of the actors and stuntmen to speak about the making of the film, including director Sheldon Lettich, who worked with Van Damme on BloodsportLionheartThe Hard CorpsThe Order and Legionnaire. He and JCVD have discussed a sequel to this film, where Chad has become a film producer and Alex is still in trouble with the Triads.

Here’s hoping that MVD releases more Van Damme movies with this level of detail and care. I learned a lot from the documentary, like how Michael Douglas was producing both this film and the Brian Bosworth vehicle Stone Cold, believing that the latter was the movie that had the best chance of success.

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