Set in Hong Kong during the 1997 handover to China, this thriller stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as Marcus Ray, a CIA agent caught up in a Russian plot to bombard America with thousands of tiny bombs smuggled into the country via Hong Kong.
Having based so much of his career on the films from the region, Jean Claude Van Damme heads to Hong Kong itself for his film Knock Off
. Set in the 72 hours running up to the British handover to China (and released a mere year after the actual event), the film's action centres around the colony's thriving bootleg business, tied in with a rather convoluted plot concerning the CIA, Russian Mafia and an attempt to hold the United States to ransom through covert attacks. The opening section unwisely tries Van Damme's hand at knockabout humour with partner Rob Schneider but merely proves that the star is severely lacking the sort of humorous touch that Arnold Schwarzenegger has so successfully utilised. Once Knock Off
descends into more familiar Van Damme territory, the film--and its leading man--are on surer ground. There are a good deal of spectacular fight sequences, some amazing stunts and a feisty female sparring partner in the form of Lela Rochen. Even the always-reliable Paul Sorvino pops up. Director Tsui Hark hits upon some interesting and initially invigorating visual effects but soon overdoes them, actually highlighting the lack of decent story rather than enhancing it. There is an incredible film to be made about this period in history but this isn't it. Knock Off
is merely another undemanding, high-kicking, high-octane vehicle for Van Damme. --Phil Udell
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.