Thursday, February 9, 2017

Maximum Risk


   I am a person who has at one point in his life, referred to himself as a "Jean Claude Fan Damme". Just so we're clear on that, on where I stand. I love JCVD's movies. I've seen like 90% of them. Especially some of the later DTV stuff. I can quote Bloodsport like the back of my hand. So, when I saw Maximum Risk on Blu Ray, on sale for $3.50 at F.Y.E. I figured that it was divine intervention, because I had never seen this one before. I'd say it was $3.50 well spent, doubly so since I'm such a shameless Fan Damme. Yes, I said it again. Deal with it.

   Maximum Risk is pretty decent as far as JCVD's filmography goes. It's a passable 90's actioner directed by famed HK action director, Ringo Lam. Unfortunately, very little of Lam's trademark kinetic insanity trickles down into Maximum Risk. It makes every effort to be a mature movie, worth taking seriously- but also has fits of inexplicable nineties action excess. It's like a drab cop thriller and an 80's action flick had a baby, and this is the bastard it produced. I know Van Damme can act, and act well- but I fail to see why the movie has to grind to a halt every time it wants to prove this.

   This is a guy known for his splits and kicks and smarmy little grin. This movie is way too dour and downbeat to be 'fun', and it's a far cry from what anyone could want from a 90's Van Damme flick. Having said that, it's not a bad movie, it's just an odd one. The movie generates a super sleazy atmosphere, which is pretty cool. The plot bobs and weaves through strip clubs, night clubs, bars, and grimy taxi cabs. I was almost lulled into thinking this was just a crime drama, but when I least expected it, Van Damme busts out some bone-breaking action. In little spurts at least.

   Some people say that the movie is nothing but action, and others say it doesn't have enough- I'm in the camp of the latter. Sure, the plot is constantly in motion, but the action is too grounded (until the last act). It's mostly a couple brawls and a couple standard car chases. Nothing to write home about. I'm used to vein popping, muscle flexing, hero mode, fuck yeah, patriotic, slow motion, blood spraying, bone snapping action in JCVD's movies. There's really none of that here. This smacked of a quick buck effort to be taken seriously by critics and audiences.

   It's really not a bad movie, but it's a game of managed expectations. I enjoyed the taut little thriller that it was, which occasionally reared it's creative action-packed head. The movie plays like a bizarre Euro-cop, neo-noir, mob drama- and for what it's worth (about $3.50) it wasn't bad. Fan Dammes will enjoy it for what it is, though I kinda suspect that the average viewer might enjoy it more. It's somehow less over-the-top than his usual fare, and plays a bit straighter. Also, Natasha Henstridge gets naked a couple times here. That alone was worth the price of admission, the rest is just icing on the cake.

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