Tuesday, February 28, 2012

JCVD vs. Death: Wake of Death

What is this now?  As my teaser said, this one of the three movies that I got for Christmas from a long-time friend/subscriber.  I had to make up a silly pretense to review this movie, but when is that a new thing?  He got this movie almost solely based on one thing: Van Damme's sad mug on the box.  That's an oddly-effective marketing campaign, guys!  It helps that it has an interestingly-sounding, but otherwise nonsensical title too.  What does that mean?  Is death like the tide?  Tide of Death just isn't as interesting, I guess.  Here's what you need to know: Van Damme goes dark.  Much like Born to Raise Hell a few years later, this movie is Van Damme attempting to make himself into a violent bad-ass.  Yes, the guy who did a split in his underwear in Timecop is scary now!  The plot: Van Damme's life goes to hell, so he shoots people.  Do you need to know more?  No.  Good.  Read on...
A Chinese gang boss called Sun Quan kills his wife, but his daughter sees it and runs off.  Is there a point to his name being the same as a famous Chinese Warrior?  No.  Pointless name-dropping that only two people get is awesome!
The kid makes it to Los Angeles, conveniently ending up with Van Damme's wife- an INS Agent.  Shit's going to go down!
Sun Quan finds the girl and starts to killing.  Caught in the crossfire is Van Damme's Mother and Father-in-Law.  On the plus side, he got rid of your Mother-in-Law, Van Damme!
Want to see Van Damme react to this?  Well, you don't get much.  Here's a shot of water poured under his eyes- since he doesn't actually cry on camera.
What makes this film so dark and gritty?  Aside from the shooting and blood, there's this scene where the wife's boss is tortured...with a power drill!  Holy Hostel, Batman!
It's important to know that this movie is gritty and dark.  Now watch Van Damme drive on this conveniently-placed ramp inside of a Mall.
The climax: Van Damme will deliver the girl in exchange for his captive son Nicholas.  Fun fact: Van Damme can't say 'Nicholas' with his accent.  According to him, his son is named 'Nikolai.'
With every other person Van Damme has known or loved- save for his son-  dead, he only has one kung-fu knowing friend.  He helps out, but doesn't exactly end up being rewarded for it.
Want to know how not to end a Van Damme movie?  Well, this film ends with a shoot-out.  No spin kicks, splits or anything.  He kills the bad guy and nobody learns a lesson in the slightest.  The End.
Evidently, murder is its own moral.  Seriously, this film has no point other than to have people be killed violently.  Van Damme does it to get his son back...eventually, but it's mostly to murder the people that killed his wife.  It's hard to blame him...to a point.  His character is vague at best and bloodthirsty at worst.  What is he, exactly?  We get one scene implying that he's a Bouncer, since I guess being a real criminal was too much for him.  On the plus side, he wasn't a Federal Agent!  I love how vague the authority figures are here too.  After the murder, he has a gun-fight in the street, but isn't arrested or really even questioned about murdering people in broad daylight.  He even asks if he can have his gun back!  Sun Quan is a neat, if one-note villain.  He doesn't really do anything other than cut people with a knife and yell.  You, sir, are a plot device and nothing more.  Why is he called Sun Quan again?  This movie is dark, dark, dark!  The torture scene is intense and very graphic.  Drill to the eye!  What can you take away from this film?  If you want to kill someone, everyone around you will die/be hurt, but you'll eventually kill them.  Hurray?  Take us away, sad and confused Van Damme face...
Next up, one final Van Damme film on Leap Day.  Van Damme invades New Orleans...and does heroin.  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I can't really think of any reason that I'd name that guy Sun Quan if it's actually intended as a reference. Yes, Sun Quan was one of the rulers of the Three Kingdoms era, so at least there's a leadership connection there, but Cao Cao was more the one traditionally portrayed as being as close to a "villain" as the Three Kingdoms era has--he's the one that takes the emperor into "protective custody" and is generally the aggressor against the other groups for the first portion of the Three Kingdoms story.

    Actually, there's an even better option, though. Dong Zhuo. Guy took over the government and is generally portrayed as a greedy and sadistic person who took anything he wanted and had anyone who got in his way (and many who didn't) killed. And if you use him you can even extend the reference by having him have a strong fighter on his side named Lu Bu, and thus Van Damme has a good option for a one-on-one martial arts duel. So, yeah. Better option there.