Plot: Chad (Jean-Claude Van Damme) has lived a posh lifestyle in California, working as a fitness instructor and spending his days more concerned with girls than survival. But unknown to him, he has a long lost twin brother Alex (also Van Damme) who has a much different lifestyle. Alex grew up on the streets of Hong Kong and while his martial arts skills are remarkable, his life is one of danger and constant threats, unlike Chad’s more soft path in life. But when the estranged brothers are reunited, while skeptical at first, a common enemy proves to forge a shaky bond. The two can avenge their late parents, who were killed just before the brothers were split up, but in order to stand up against the Triads, Chad and Alex will have to work together. But can these two manage to put aside their doubts and get along, or will they suffer a similar fate as their parents, doomed to repeat history?
Entertainment Value: I would rank Double Impact as a mid tier effort from Jean-Claude Van Damme, but it has some bursts of b movie fun that push it a little higher and overall, I think this one is a good time. The narrative is nothing all that original, but it is quite humorous to see Van Damme in the double vision, odd couple type roles here, as he really goes for it with both characters. The early scene where Chad shows off with the splits for a class full of hot aerobics girls is hilarious, setting the tone that while the focus is on action here, there’s also a sense of humor. The action scenes aren’t around quite as often as I’d like, though the pace picks up as the movie progresses, but there is a good amount of martial arts battles to bask in. This of course includes Van Damme vs. Van Damme and it looks just as hokey as you might expect, with obvious doubles that add immense b movie appeal. So we have fun, sometimes cheesy action scenes, a lot of humorous one liners from Van Damme, a lot of garish 90s vibes, and overall, just a fun, enjoyable action flick. I do wish it was a little snappier in places, but for action fans and JCVD disciples, Double Impact is well recommended.
If anyone ever doubts the thespian skills of Jean-Claude Van Damme, just remind them that in this movie, he plays both a pampered nice guy and a street tough bad boy, the kind of range most actors could only dream of. Of course, I kid, but Van Damme is a lot of fun in these dual roles and he plays it up to the hilt at times, especially as the smarmy Chad. Van Damme turns in a good performance, with ample enthusiasm and his usual level of charm and screen presence, which are rock solid. His action skills are epic and on showcase here, even if Double Impact doesn’t push him to really flex his martial arts muscles much. But he also handles the non action elements well, especially the humor and campiness, as he does have a great sense of humor. His dramatic efforts are not the best, but he gives these roles his all and for fans his work, Double Impact is packed with JCVD goodness. His rival from Bloodsport is here, the legendary Bolo Yeung, though his role is a smaller one than I’d like. The cast also includes Corinna Everson, Alan Scarfe, Geoffrey Lewis, and Alonna Shaw.
The Disc: Double Impact arrives on Blu-ray in the MVD Rewind Collection, in a great looking visual presentation. This is a marked improvement over the DVD edition I own, with a much sharper and more refined presence. Even the smallest details like fabric textures and fine hairs are crystal clear, while colors have that 90s vivid pop and contrast is solid throughout. I expected a nice uptick from this version, but this looks much better I had anticipated. MVD has also struck up some remarkable new extras, led by a two part, nearly two hour long retrospective documentary. These pieces include a wealth of new interviews with cast & crew members and yes, Jean-Claude Van Damme is involved, which is huge news for fans. Odds are, if there’s something you wanted to know about Double Impact, this two part documentary likely has some information of some kind to cover it. Also new is almost an hour of deleted & extended scenes, as well an “anatomy of a scene” featurette with director Sheldon Lettich. Some archival extras have been ported over too, with cast & crew interviews, promo clips & b roll, and the film’s theatrical trailer.