Alain is a boxer in 1925 Marseille, France. When he doesn't take the dive paid to take by a mob boss, he has to split. He joins the Foreign Legion and is sent to Morocco. He makes 3 friends and they watch each other's backs.
Jean-Claude Van Damme,
In a violent and corrupt prison, decorated cop Louis Burke must infiltrate the jail to find answers to a number of inside murders. What he finds is a struggle of life and death tied in to his own past.
Jean-Claude Van Damme,
Counter-terrorist Jack Quinn misses his target, Stavros, on the eve of his final mission. From there, he is sent to "The Colony", a rebirth for presumed-dead assassins. He breaks free from there, and seeks the aid of Yaz, a weapons dealer, for his final battle with Stavros.Written by
Orlandus Brown Jr.
Entertainingly overblown action marred by slapdash storytelling
The script for Double Team was originally called "The Colony" and by several accounts, it was actually quite good. Apparently, it went through many major alterations on its way to production until the final product bore little resemblance in tone and quality to the original script. Does this mean Double Team is a disaster? Not really, but its clear all the changes created some problems.
On the one hand, you have the participation of famed Hong Kong director Tsui Hark and world-class cinematographer Peter Pau. They manage to create some of the coolest, trippiest, most fantastical visuals this side of a MTV video and better still, do so without the excessively choppy editing that usually accompanies "MTV-style" films. You actually get to appreciate the luxuriously-shot images, though the film is by no means slow-paced. Better still, it's one of the few Van Damme movies that realizes the best Van Damme movies are the ones which absolutely never rely on Van Damme's acting (or anyone else's for that matter) to carry the film along. It's all action, goofily entertaining plot twists, and sweet visuals. As an action-packed, overblown, eye-candy fantasy, Double Team works very well.
On the other hand, it's painfully obvious that Double Team used to have a smarter script which called for a far more subtle and serious approach. Had these "intelligent" elements been completely erased or dumbed-down for the final product, this wouldn't have been a problem. However, it seems that some of the more subtle plot developments were left in and they do NOT mesh well with Tsui's and the rest of the final script's "jackhammer" approach to the story. For example, at one point a prescription label left on the wall is supposed to be noticed by Van Damme's character who then uses the name of the doctor on the label as a clue. However, unless you're paying very very close attention you'd never know that. It's so small on screen, the label may as well have been blank. And the shot where the label is taken off the prescription bottle is far too quick and unclear. A single extra shot showing a closeup of the label would've cleared things up immensely. But it never happens. The film contains several instances like this where a single clarifying shot or an extra line of explanatory dialogue would've made things much clearer. The result is that what seem like glaring plot holes (even for this kind of movie) are in fact due to badly explained plot points. Such an obscure presentation might have worked on a quieter, more "intelligent" spy film where the audience knows they aren't going to be spoon-fed the plot. But after 40 minutes of terrible one-liners and ridiculous action, the last thing that should be required of Double Team's audience is to suddenly pay close attention to what's happening.
I don't know whether Tsui Hark was trying to keep in some subtle elements while reconciling it with the rapid-fire approach, or whether he just didn't care about such details and wanted to keep things moving (Probably the latter, as his subsequent movie, Knock Off, experimented with this abstract, to-hell-with-storytelling visual approach to the nth degree). Whatever the case, the result is a pretty wild but somewhat confusing action movie that could've been much better with minor changes.
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