In the long line of Van Damme action films, “Double Impact” has always been my favorite. Maybe it’s because of the fun premise, or the way the movie balances the green screen to almost be a convincing action movie about twins. I think it’s perhaps because Van Damme proves he can play vastly different characters.
The sons of two politicians, Chad and Alex’s parents were betrayed by their best friend who teamed up with the Triads to assassinate them. Their loyal bodyguard Frank manages to barely escape with newborn Chad, while Alex is also spared thanks to his nanny who leaves him at the doorstep of a religious orphanage. Almost thirty years later, their parents’ murderers re-emerge, now rising in power in Hong Kong as Drug overlords. Hoping to avenge their deaths, Frank brings Chad to Hong Kong to re-unite with his brother and bring down the pair of drug lords. The twin brothers in “Double Impact” are virtually yin and yang, as Chad and Alex is vastly different people. Chad presents a very pacifist way of life after years in California. Meanwhile Alex is a very aggressive and violent blue collar worker who is fiercely jealous over his gorgeous wife Katherine. After Chad is mistaken for Alex and beaten unconscious by the Triads, the brothers decide it’s time for payback.
Director Sheldon Lettich does a bang up job of creating a believable rivalry among the pair of twins played by Van Damme. With a great implementation of body doubles, green screen, and editing, Van Damme works well portraying two very unique and complex heroes, both of whom have some scores to settle the more they realize the weight of their parents’ murders. “Double Impact” is a fine balance between campy gimmick, and straight up raucous action that hits so much more than it misses. On the one hand the movie is dead set on showing off Van Damme’s assets left and right. The script makes it painfully clear that Van Damme is well endowed, while there is of course the shot of the star in painted on tights splitting for a class of horny women. Director Lettich even zeroes in on Van Damme’s behind. The film is also shockingly longer in the tooth than I remember, spending way too much time on “It’s Van Damme! There are two of them! They’re twins! Get it?”
On the other hand there are some damn good action scenes, including Van Damme’s pair of fights with a ripped Bolo Yeung, as well as a quite fantastic kickboxing scene set in a dark warehouse. I am also a big fan of Geoffrey Lewis as Uncle Frank, who triples as the moral center, comic relief, and plot motivation for the entirety of “Double Impact.” Once you get past the on the nose gimmick, “Double Impact” is a damn good action film with some of the best Van Damme fights ever filmed. Where else can you see Van Damme fight Van Damme?