Twice the Van Damme: Double Impact (1991, directed by Sheldon Lettich)

Twice the Van Damme means double the damme trouble in Double Impact!

In this low-budget action flick, Jean-Claude Van Damme plays twin brothers, Chad and Alex Wagner.  When they were just six months old, their parents were murdered in Hong Kong and the brothers were separated.  Chad grew up to become a goody-goody martial arts instructor in Los Angeles.  Alex grew up to become a part of the Hong Kong underworld.  Under the direction of the parent’s former bodyguard, Uncle Frank (Geoffrey Lewis), the twins are reunited and team up to take down the gangster who killed their parents.

When it comes to second-tier 90s action heroes, Jean-Claude Van Damme was never as good as Dolph Lundgren but he was still a thousand times better than Stephen Seagal.  The secret of Van Damme’s success was that, in real life, he was capable of doing all of the thing that he did in the movies.  Van Damme didn’t need a stunt double or trick editing to look athletic.  It’s easy to laugh at Van Damme’s propensity to do the splits in every film he made but everyone knows that if Stephen Seagal had ever tried to do the same thing, he probably never would have been able to stand back up.

Double Impact was made early in Van Damme’s career, after he had established himself with Bloodsport but before he went mainstream with Timecop.  Van Damme is credited with co-writing the script and it’s the first Van Damme film to feature him playing twins, an idea to which he would return a surprising number of times.  The movie is full of moments between the twins that were designed to make critics and audiences say, “He really can act!”  Unfortunately, at that time, Van Damme really couldn’t act.  Chad smiles like a goof.  Alex smokes a cigar and is an angry drunk.  When Chad fears that his mentor has been murdered, he shouts, “NO!” in a way that will remind you of Rainier Wolfcastle’s reaction to his partner getting gunned down in McBain.  That’s the extent of their characterizations.  It wouldn’t be a problem except that the movie is nearly two hours long and that’s a long time to spend listening to Jean-Claude Van Damme argue with himself.

There are a few action scenes, which is the main reason for watching any Van Damme film other than JCVD, but they’re mostly perfunctory.  The bad guy’s main henchman is played by Bolo Yeung and the fight scenes between him and Van Damme are exiting to watch.  Otherwise, Double Impact is damme forgettable.

2 responses to “Twice the Van Damme: Double Impact (1991, directed by Sheldon Lettich)

  1. Pingback: Lisa’s Week In Review: 7/15/19 — 7/21/19 | Through the Shattered Lens

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