A mix of nostalgia value and genuine entertainment value, “Double Impact” is the Van Damme movie I’ve come to value over all of his other work. As someone who was a big Van Damme geek in the nineties, he’s had a better shelf life than people like Steven Segal, and films like “Double Impact” have held up big time. Even with the camp value and goofy comedy in the first half hour, “Double Impact” still amounts to a great action flick with Van Damme being given a test of how far he can stretch his acting chops.
Twenty five years after seeing his father killed by Hong Kong crime boss Raymond Zhang (Philip Chan Yan Kin), Chad Wagner (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is living in Los Angeles as a popular martial arts trainer who subscribes to pacifism. But Chad has a twin brother, Alex (Van Damme in duel roles), who suddenly reunites with his less-aggressive sibling and wants to avenge their father’s death. As the pair plan their payback against Zhang with their foster dad Frank, they also struggle to overcome their personal differences.
I’m not going to pretend that Van Damme is Spencer Tracy, but he does a solid job in the duel role of long lost twins with vastly different personalities. The writers tap in to different parts of Van Damme’s personality, flexing his comic chops, and his action persona with two genuinely entertaining protagonists. The performance by Geoffrey Lewis compliments Van Damme’s double duties, as he often carries the film. His dynamic with both characters is probably the best part of the entire film, and he’s the heart of the narrative time and time again.
Beyond that, the action scenes are pretty great with a lot of fantastic moments with Van Damme battling gangsters, as well as a fun foot chase, and a big showdown in the finale. Adding to the conniving villain ranks is the legendary Bolo Yeung who does a great job re-teaming with Van Damme. There’s also Corinna Everson who is probably one of the first openly gay henchman in an action movie (at least from what I’ve ever seen). And who can forget the still insanely sexy Alonna Shaw as the film’s core love interest? “Double Impact” is one of Van Damme’s best, this is him at his top and I still have a good time with the highs and cringe inducing lows.
Featured on the new MVD Rewind Collection edition, there’s a full color mini-poster for those that collect them, and vintage cover art from “Double Impact.” Included with bells and whistles is the two part “The Making of Double Impact” clocking in at almost two hours in length (In HD). It’s a retrospective documentary with interviews with the star who also co-wrote the movie, director and co-writer Sheldon Lettich, producer Ashok Amritraj, co-star Cory Everson-Donia, co-star and fight coordinator Peter Malota and ”Chad” and ”Alex” photo doubles Jeff Rector & Jerry Rector. It’s an exhaustive and fun look back for fans like yours truly. There is almost an hour worth of Deleted and Extended scenes, and the eight minute “Anatomy of a Scene” with director Sheldon Lettich. Finally there’s the original theatrical trailer for “Double Impact.”