Action Heroes – Van Damme: Double Team

After the steam filled nonsense that was Death Warrant I have now the ominous task of tackling Double Team. This release came after Van Damme’s high point of Timecop and it’s evident the moment you look at the cast which includes Mickey Rourke (years before The Wrestler) and wait for it, former basketball star Dennis Rodman.

Van Damme stars as Jack Quinn who is a counter terrorist agent on the trail of the world baddest bad-ass on the block, Stavros (Rourke). Coming out of retirement for one last job he leaves his pregnant wife to finally put an end to the evil Stavros. The take down goes rather poorly due to Jack being unable to risk the life of Stavros’s kid. Having destroyed an entire theme park Jack wakes up at The Colony and fails to realize that he’s landed in some weird rip off of The Prisoner. Returning to the actual movie about thirty minutes later the double act of Jack and Yaz (Dennis Rodman), yes he’s actual called that, head out to kill Stavros. 

Double Team is clearly a B-Movie masquerading as some kind of A-list feature in attempting to appear like a Bond movie. That being said the fact that Hark Tsui is directing guarantees that there will be action a plenty. Death Warrant was disappointing for its lack of actual fighting thankfully this cannot be said about Double Team. Van Damme had already worked with John Woo, another Honk Kong legend, on Hard Target which had great action sequences.  Hark ensures that the film has a multitude of set pieces that involve a great deal of fighting, gun play and endless amounts of willful destruction. The closing sequence at some kind of roman amphitheatre which involves a topless Rourke (for no reason at all), landmines and tigers has to be seen to be believed.

The idea that a script was involved in making this film is somewhat unbelievable as the dialogue is mostly horrendous. The Colony sequence is almost pointless but for the inclusion of the training montage. Van Damme transforms his abode into a personal gym that includes utilizing the door frame, the bed springs and the bath tub. This is the highlight of the film for simple comedy value alone, especially the expressions Jean Claude busts out when lifting the tub.

The inclusion of Rodman in this film is a massive question mark; he undoubtedly has the charisma but no actual acting talent. As he changes outfit and hair color every time you see him you start to wonder if he hasn’t wondered on to set from a Top Model on tour location shoot. Rourke in his post stardom, pre-comeback part of his career is little better, but given his lack of actual acting ability this isn’t too shocking either. The cake is taken though by Natacha Lindinger as Van Damme’s wife Kathryn, re-calling Cynthia Gibb from Death Warrant, she seems to have been cast due to her lack of talent so as not to show up Jean Claude.

All in all I actually enjoyed this more than Death Warrant just for the action alone but it’s a worse film by far. Saddled with an atrocious script and matching cast it’s impossible to be engaged in any character so whether they live die or disappear makes no difference. Van Damme has yet to return to the Hollywood fold Expendables style so he continues to make Universal Soldier films and other assorted straight to DVD rubbish. The man has no charisma whatsoever and at the end of the day that is why I find him mostly unbearable to watch on screen.

Aled Jones

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