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(1998) (Jean-Claude Van Damme, Rob Schneider) (R)

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Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Smoking Tense Family
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Action/Adventure: A sales rep uncovers a conspiracy involving Russian mob efforts to smuggle tiny "microbombs" in imitation blue jeans onto the black market.
Marcus Ray (JEAN CLAUDE VAN-DAMME) and Tommy Hendricks (ROB SCHNEIDER) are sales reps for V SIX Jeans who are enjoying life in Hong Kong days before that island nation's transition back to Chinese rule. While Tommy busily prepares for the latest fashion show, Marcus is off looking at knock off goods -- imitation watches, jewelry, and baby dolls, in which his longtime friend Eddie (WYMAN WONG) and his Hong Kong associate, Skinny (GLEN CHIN), are involved.

When Marcus and Tommy's supervisor, Karen Leigh (LELA ROCHON), arrives and informs them that much of their last shipment of jeans was filled with knock off imitations, the two can't believe her, but agree to help in raiding a warehouse to prove their innocence.

After a violent encounter that involves local police Ling Ho (CARMEN LEE) and Lieutenant Han (MICHAEL FITZGERALD WONG), Marcus eventually learns that Tommy is an undercover CIA agent, as is Karen. Meeting with their boss, agent Johansson (PAUL SORVINO), Marcus learns of a conspiracy involving the Russian mafia and their attempts to smuggle tiny, but highly explosive "microbombs" to the worldwide terrorist black market.

From that point on, Marcus, Tommy, and the others set out to do what they can to stop the conspiracy while avoiding both the Asian and Russian henchmen hot on their trail.

If they're fans of Van Damme and his movies, they just might.
For continuous violence and brief language.
  • JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME plays a somewhat crooked sales rep who uncovers the conspiracy and then proceeds to beat up and kill many terrorists.
  • ROB SCHNEIDER plays an undercover CIA agent who poses as Ray's partner.
  • LELA ROCHON plays another undercover CIA agent who also kills more terrorists.


    OUR TAKE: 0 out of 10
    A knock off is a cheaply produced imitation of an original product that's designed to fool the consumer into thinking they're buying a brand name. Usually found regarding products such as tennis shoes, watches, and in this film, blue jeans, another product now has to be added to that list -- movies.

    An unimaginative picture that's about as bad as they come in each and every category one can imagine, "Knock Off" isn't an imitation of a good film. It's a knock off of a bad, martial arts laden, "B" movie if there ever was one.

    Of course Jean-Claude isn't known for appearing in heavy Oscar favorites, but this one's particularly bad even for him. Something of a poorly executed hybrid of any Jackie Chan film, the eye-popping imaginative work of director Sam Raimi ("Darkman"), and any action flick showing on cable sometime in the wee hours of the morning, this fiasco shouldn't even get the chance to air then, let alone receive a major theatrical release.

    Without any advance screenings for critics, audiences will think this is just another typical Van Damme picture, but once word gets out, expect this stinker to disappear faster than one of those head-high kicks for which the "Muscles From Brussels" is known.

    As helmed by Hong Kong director Tsui Hark (who also did Van Damme's "Double Team" with Dennis Rodman), and written by Steven E. de Souza ("Die Hard," "48 Hours"), the picture is a clear, but uninspired and poorly executed ripoff of those fun Jackie Chan films.

    Featuring a simple, but still convoluted plot about international terrorists and their plan that our "hero" stumbles upon, Van Damme ("Hard Target," "Time Cop") tries his hardest to imitate Jackie Chan. Beyond all of the acrobatic martial arts material, he even tries to play the constantly out of breath, self-effacing and charming everyday man who finds himself in a heap of trouble.

    The problem is, Jean-Claude's no Jackie Chan. That Hong Kong star is admired because he's a "little" guy who doesn't take himself seriously and would rather flee than fight, but can efficiently do the latter when pressured into it. Van Damme will always be Van Damme, and seeing him "acting" this way is rather disconcerting when not incredibly, but certainly not intentionally, hilarious.

    Speaking of funny, that's what Rob Schneider ("Judge Dredd," TV's "Saturday Night Live") is supposed to be in this film, but he's anything but that. His character comes off as nothing more than a constant irritant to both Van Damme and the audience, and all efforts to present the two as the typical "odd couple" set fall completely flat. The few moments where he tries to land some funny lines fell upon a stone-silent audience at our screening -- which is never a good sign.

    Who knows what the filmmakers used to persuade Lela Rochon ("Why Do Fools Fall in Love," "Waiting To Exhale") and Paul Sorvino ("The Firm," "Bulworth") to appear in the film, but I imagine they're hiding their faces behind lots of something that's green while hoping no one recognizes them. Meanwhile Asian actors Michael Fitzgerald Wong and Carmen Lee are reduced to running around as local, one-dimensional set pieces to give the picture some Hong Kong based scenery.

    Director Hark tries his hardest to make the picture interesting, but his lifting of special camera effects from one of the old "masters" -- Sam Raimi -- is more distracting than invigorating. With the camera zooming in to extreme close-ups, the film speeding up and slowing down without any apparent reason, and a bevy of other similar techniques, the audience is more likely to be nauseous than impressed.

    Of course, all of that's used in a desperate attempt to cover up the poorly designed and even more horribly acted fiasco that seems to take forever to completely unfold on screen. Despite the hyper-kinetic camera work and bevy of martial arts action, none of the scenes are thrilling -- including the traditional action-laden opening and martial arts heavy conclusion, and some, including an oddly staged rickshaw race, are utterly ridiculous and way overdrawn.

    To make matters worse, you can't even make fun of how horrible the film is since it's already ripping off -- and not surprisingly isn't even as good as -- those bad Asian martial arts flicks often parodied in other films (such as the hilarious, dubbed "fight" scene in "Wayne's World II").

    Easily one of the worst films of the year, several apparent die-hard Van Damme fans left the theater angrily stating that this film should have been entitled "Rip Off" instead of "Knock Off." Either way, both titles are appropriate, so don't blame us if you decide to see this film. If you do, you'll be looking for your imitation Rolex long before Van Damme gets in that last punch and kick. We give "Knock Off" a 0 out of 10.

    Near nonstop violence and some profanity highlight what most parents and others may find objectionable with this film. As in most other Van Damme and similarly based films, a great deal of fighting and shooting occurs, with many deaths and other beatings, some of which are bloody, and the martial arts material may prove to be fodder for imitative behavior.

    Profanity is heavy due to the use of several "f" words, and some relatively mild sexual material briefly occurs. Beyond that, the obligatory bad attitudes of the villains, and some scenes that the youngest of kids or most timid of viewers may find suspenseful, the rest of the film is mostly void of major objectionable material. Even so, you may want to take a closer look should you or someone in your home wish to see this film.

  • Some people have drinks at a bar.
  • Marcus briefly drinks wine.
  • Marcus and Tommy are drinking, and someone in front of them seems to be passed out drunk.
  • A person is shot and we see a bloody explosion, and several other men are somewhat bloody during a gun battle.
  • We see a bloody circular blade as well as the bloody hand holding it (after a man's been killed with it).
  • We see the bloody end of a pole upon which a man's just been impaled.
  • Many bloody machete (or from a similar instrument) cuts cover Tommy's back after a run in with some angry men.
  • Karen's nose is a little bloody after Johansson punches her, and Tommy spits out some blood after receiving the same treatment.
  • Some people killed or injured during the final fight sequence are a little bloody.
  • Obviously all of the bad guys have both as they'll do anything -- including killing others -- to succeed at their plans.
  • Marcus is somewhat involved in some bootleg items, but this is never entirely explained.
  • Some viewers may find some of the violent action scenes listed under "Violence" as tense, but most are done in an action-oriented, rather than traditionally suspenseful way.
  • Microbombs & other explosives/Handguns/Machine guns/Hand grenade/Small curved knives/Machete-like instruments: Used to threaten, wound or kill people, or blow up things. See "Violence" for details.
  • Phrases: "Mind f*ck," "Piece of sh*t," "Sh*thole," "Freakin'," "Sucks," "Kick your ass," "Bite me," "To hell with you," "Shut up," "Idiot," "Scumbag," "Screw ups," "Screwing" (nonsexual), "Little dweeb," "Go to hell," "Bastard" and "Bitch" (said by Tommy to Karen).
  • Kids may want to imitate all of the martial arts and other fighting scenes found throughout the movie.
  • Tommy gives a muscular bodyguard the sign for female oral sex (licking one's tongue between fingers spread in a V-shape).
  • A dwarf gives Tommy the "f*ck you" sign (one hand into the elbow crease of the other arm that's then bent upwards).
  • None.
  • A moderate amount of tension-based, action-oriented music fills much of the movie.
  • None.
  • At least 3 "f" words, 17 "s" words, 9 hells (1 in subtitles), 9 asses (2 used with "hole"), 4 damns (2 in subtitles), 3 S.O.B.'s, 2 craps, and 3 uses of "Jesus," 2 of "G-damn" and 1 use of "God" as exclamations.
  • While accompanying several models wearing bras, Tommy asks one of them, "A belly ring -- does that increase pleasure in sex?" The women responds, "Not for me."
  • Karen shows some cleavage in various outfits she wears. During one scene, she gets some of Tommy's blood in her cleavage, and upon seductively wiping it away, then presses her body against his while "tending" to his wounds. As she then handcuffs and then slaps him (for reasons other than he expects), he says, "Oh, I like this." After she gets into a big fight with Marcus and him, he finally says, "I was never into threesomes."
  • We briefly see Marcus in his underwear.
  • Skinny smokes cigars a few times, while Tommy and Johansson also smoke cigars. Han smokes a few times, as do other minor and background characters.
  • None.
  • The transition of Hong Kong rule from the British to the Chinese.
  • Imitation goods sold as the real thing.
  • Several baby dolls equipped with tiny microbombs explode in the water and a fiery explosion overtakes, and presumably kills many people.
  • A boat chase then follows with gunshots exchanged and several people shot and killed. A boat crashes and a man falls onto some rocks. When Han goes to investigate, he finds a hand grenade under the man and gets out of the way just as it explodes.
  • Several contestants crash and some bystanders are run over during a rickshaw race.
  • Tommy, being pulled by Marcus in a rickshaw, whips his "driver" with what appears to be an eel picked up as they crashed through a fish market.
  • Some men grab a guy they believe to be Eddie, pull him into their van, and shoot him dead (not entirely seen, but quite obvious). Marcus then comes up alongside the van and punches the driver and it crashes through a storefront window with bodies flying everywhere.
  • Inside the store, several men try to shoot Marcus. Ling Ho then shows up and shoots one of them whom Marcus then finishes with a thrown cooking knife. Ling Ho and Marcus then fight each other, and other men then shoot at them. Marcus then fights these others, and Ling Ho punches a guy she arrests, but he's shot by another bad guy.
  • Tommy throws a can of food that knocks out Ling Ho.
  • We see a dead guy tied up to some exercise equipment, and some bad guys then beat up another man, ending with one of them cutting and killing him with some sort of curved blade.
  • Marcus beats up a guy out on a balcony, and then holds Tommy and another man at the edge of the top of a building where they hold onto the pipe he's got against them.
  • A large delivery truck bursts through a warehouse door and runs over several tables a few moments before a large factory is consumed in a fiery explosion.
  • The bad guys then shoot at police cars behind them (causing one to flip over and crash, and another crashes into it) and at both Marcus and Han who are located on various parts of the truck. More hand to hand combat and gun shooting follows where several people are shot and killed. One man is thrown from the truck and impaled on a pole sticking out from a building.
  • Eddie pulls a gun on Marcus and Tommy, but upon opening a safe, is hit in the chest by a rocket that sends him through a wall and into an adjacent building where both blow up.
  • Marcus punches Tommy.
  • Eddie's friends/associates chase Marcus and Tommy in a prolonged sequence filled with many punches and kicks and scenes of these other men trying to hit the guys with machete like knives (which do inflict some sliced wounds on Tommy's back).
  • A man grabs Tommy from behind and starts to choke him, causing Tommy to repeatedly hit the man on the head with a pineapple.
  • Marcus fights many of Skinny's men, and finally hits him and throws him into a car, which he eventually crashes off a parking deck (neither men are hurt).
  • A large Buddha monument explodes, killing many people.
  • Karen fights with Marcus after she holds a gun on Tommy who then kicks her as well. After much hand to hand combat, Marcus eventually smashes her through a door.
  • A man threatens to pour acid onto Karen, and demonstrates its acidic qualities on the arm of her chair.
  • From that point on and through the ending, there's pretty much nonstop hand to hand combat along with many people being shot and killed. During this, Johansson also punches Karen and Tommy, and she later throws acid onto Johansson's arm. Several people are also squashed by large falling objects (not explicitly seen).
  • Many explosions destroy several large ships/barges, presumably killing many people.
  • A man is blown up in one last explosion.

  • Reviewed September 4, 1998

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