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MOVIE REVIEW : Van Damme Doubles the 'Impact'

August 09, 1991|KEVIN THOMAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Double Impact" (citywide) offers two Jean-Claude Van Dammes for the price of one, and for fans of the Belgian-born martial arts star, it delivers the goods. It's a solid, fast-moving action-adventure set largely in Hong Kong, which is dynamically photographed by Richard Kline.

Written by Van Damme with director Sheldon Lettich, the plot is elementary but serviceable. Back in 1966, a couple of bad guys (Alan Scarfe, Philip Chan Yan Kin) assassinate a British entrepreneur and his wife in Hong Kong, but their twin sons survive. One of them, Chad, is rescued by the father's loyal, avuncular associate (Geoffrey Lewis), who raises the boy in France; the other, Alex, is taken by his nanny to a Hong Kong orphanage, left in the care of a nun with a decided French accent. So much for explaining away Van Damme's own accent.

Twenty-five years later, Chad gets a line on Alex, who's become a rough-tough Hong Kong smuggler while Chad lives the good life as a popular Beverly Hills aerobics instructor. Predictably, Chad and Alex don't hit it off initially but join forces to avenge their parents' deaths.

In the writing and in Van Damme's playing, Chad and Alex are sharply, believably defined as two distinct individuals. The dual role offers Van Damme a stretch as an actor, but wisely he and his associates don't let thespic demands get in the way of slam-bang action.

Indeed, "Double Impact" (rated R for standard action-movie violence and language plus some sex and nudity) ends in a virtuoso showdown sequence aboard a giant freighter in the Hong Kong harbor.

'Double Impact'

Jean-Claude Van Damme: Chad/Alex

Geoffrey Lewis: Frank Avery

Alan Scarfe: Nigel Griffith

A Columbia Pictures release of a Stone Group Pictures presentation. Director Sheldon Lettich. Producers Ashok Amritaj and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Executive producers Moshe Diamant, Charles Layton. Screenplay Lettich & Van Damme; based on a story by Lettich & Van Damme and Steve Meerson & Peter Krikes. Cinematographer Richard Kline. Editor Mark Conte. Costumes Joseph Porro. Music Arthur Kempel. Production design John Jay Moore. Set designers Shelley Lynn Warner, Gregory Hunt Van Horn. Art director Rosa Pang Shiu Cheung. Set decorator Eric Lam Yau Sang. Sound Itzhak (Ike) Magal. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

MPAA-rated R (for strong violence, sensuality and language).

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