|MAXIMUM RISK (director: Ringo Lam; screenwriters: Larry Ferguson; cinematographer: Alexander Grusynski; editor: Bill Pankow; music: Robert Folk; cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme (Alain Moreau/Mikhail Suveroy), Natasha Henstridge (Alex), Zach Grenier (Ivan Dzasokhov), Stephanie Audran (Chantal Moreau), Stefanos Miltsakakis (Red Face), David Hemblen (Dmitri Kirov), Jean-Hugues Anglade (Sebastien), Marc Estrada Tournie (Inspector), Paul Ben-Victor (Agent Pellman), Frank Senger (Agent Loomis), Dan Moran (Yuri), Donald Burda (Nicholas), Henry Gomez (Cab Driver); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Moshe Diamant; Columbia; 1996)|
in as many car chases, martial arts fights
and explosions as it can while it eschews
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Hong Kong action director Ringo Lam ("City on Fire"/"Wild Search") brings more energy and visceral delight to the standard Van Damme spectacle, but it's not necessarily an improvement since the same nonsense and cliches remain. The script by Larry Ferguson ensures it gets in as many car chases, martial arts fights and explosions as it can while it eschews emotion. This is Van Damme's second film where he's a twin, with the other being a dud called Double Impact (1991).
In Nice, a cop who was a former army sniper, Alain Moreau (Jean-Claude Van Damme), shockingly learns he has a twin brother Mikhail Suveroy after he's killed by assassins during a wild car chase through the crowded streets. His police Inspector (Marc Estrada Tournie) pal, an army buddy, inform him that the lookalike corpse, his twin brother, was involved with the New York branch of the Russian Mafia. Alain asks his remorseful mom (Stephanie Audran) about the twin and then treks to Paris to learn about the adoption of his brother to a Russian family that emigrated to New York, but the lawyer's office is torched by a giant Russian hitman (Stefanos Miltsakakis). To clear up the matter and find his brother's killers, Alain goes to New York City undercover and assumes his brother's identity. With the help of a cabbie (Henry Gomez), he tracks down his brother's hottie girlfriend Alex (Natasha Henstridge), a waitress in the Little Odessa neighborhood, in Brooklyn, working at a club called Bohemia that's a hangout for the Russian mafia emigres. At the club, the menacing gang take him for Mikhail and try to kill him, after saying he betrayed them to the FBI. When out of danger and alone with Alex, Alain tells her the truth and they team up to avenge Mikhail's death.
Through a series of choreographed stunts, Van Damme must stave off both corrupt FBI agents and the Russian mafia. Hey, it could have been worse if the twin lived and we had two Van Dammes to contend with.
REVIEWED ON 7/27/2017 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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