There are about three kinds of Jean-Claude Van Damme pictures in my opinion. There are the real experimental, artsy type like Double Team and Knock Off (the best kind), the real cheap and crappy ones like Cyborg and Double Impact (the worst kind), and the more expensive ones where he’s trying to become a more respectable mainstream action star (the kind that Sudden Death is).
I have a hard time reviewing this picture since it is an unofficial sequel to Die Hard. For those of you who don’t know I am a HUGE fan of the Die Hard pictures (starring Bruce Willis, look it up if you haven’t seen it) because, as a fan do I want to support this as part of the die hard mythos or should I not support it since it is unofficial, it is hard to say.
For legal reasons, McClane’s name has been changed to McCord, and he is being played by Van Damme instead of Bruce. He is now a fire marshall and instead of saving Hollie he has two kids going to the hockey game while he’s on duty. Hans Grueber (now played by a different guy) has planted bombs in the arena and has taken over the vice president’s VIP box seats. He’s gonna blow up the whole arena with everybody in it if the feds don’t transfer a whole assload of money to his bank accounts and what not.
Van Damme does not do the smartass oneliners that Bruce does, but he does a pretty decent job and he wears an undershirt like Bruce does. One complaint I think they should have shaved his hairline to make him look more like Bruce.
Now at the beginning I didn’t think I was gonna like this picture because it was too cutesy to be believed. For cryin out loud the guy sign languages “I love you” to his kids before he goes on his shift. When he’s gone the kids have an argument about whether or not their dad is brave. And before there’s any sign of danger he tells his son to stay in his seat no matter what, “even if the building is falling down around you, stay in your seat.” Well gee willikers I wonder where this one is going.
There are some good tricks though, like they introduce this chef character who impresses the kids with a meat cleaver trick, and you’re thinking, “Gee, I wonder if that’s gonna come up later.” But about three minutes later the guy gets shot and you never see the cleaver again. Good stuff.
In the beginning of a die hard picture what you gotta do is establish how organized and how vicious these terrorist bastards are. So one technique they use on this one is where Hans shoots a secret service agent and the vice president says, “That agent was named so-and-so, he has a five year old son, a three year old daughter, and his wife is pregnant.” So that way you know that it is so bad that they killed him.
Of course McCord quickly finds out about the terrorist plot going on and it turns out he knows alot of karate for a fire marshall, and doesn’t have a problem beating people to death. Right away there is a good scene where he savagely murders a gal in a penguin costume. His daughter becomes one of the hostages and this time it’s personal. He doesn’t try to pick the terrorists off one by one like McClane usually does, but if they try to stop him from defusing the bombs, he kills them using kitchen supplies, hockey gear, fire, or what have you.
One of the best parts is when he’s running from some dudes, and he has no choice but to steal a guy’s hockey uniform and go out on the ice and be goalie in the big game. It is a great way to hide but also I’m thinking wow, this is a good twist, now the movie’s gonna be about will they win the game or not.
But again, the movie is not going where you think it is, actually it goes back to the terrorist story when the dudes notice him out on the ice. So then I’m thinking maybe they’ll have to disguise themselves as players from the other team so they can get out on the ice and shoot him. But no, the dumbass gets kicked out of the game for a flagrant foul and has to fight them in the locker room where it is more difficult to wear skates, because there is no ice.
There is a really cool and ridiculous stunt that I won’t give away, where McCord gets his daughter back and saves all the hostages. Hans has his perfect chance to run off and go collect his money. But instead he puts on an elaborate disguise with fake mustache and blond hair and kidnaps McCord’s daughter, forcing McCord to come after him. It’s just one of those stupid mistakes you make, you get nervous and you slip up you know. There is always some little way to drop the ball… the closer you get, the farther you are in some ways. I mean if I had a nickel for every stupid motherfucker that made it to the home stretch and then crashed into a parked car or got his pants stuck on a fence or dropped the money down a sewer or slipped on a pile of wet leaves and broke his tailbone or, as in this case, put on a fake mustache and kidnapped the daughter of an over zealous fire marshall, I would be able to drop these reel.com banners that’s for sure.
I think McCord is the real jackass in this situation, though. He also has the chance to get away, he has his kids with him, he saved all the hostages, and the building is evacuated. But I guess it just chaps his ass to think he’s busting his balls every day as this hockey arena fire marshall, changing light bulbs and what not, trying to raise two kids on his own on this measly salary, I mean really WORKING for a good honest living – and then here’s this German fuckhead Hans Grueber getting all these billions of dollars for one day of work. And I mean he wasn’t even planting the bombs or anything, he was just sitting on his ass up there in the box seats. He killed a few people but big deal, it was a gun and they weren’t armed, it wasn’t like hand to hand or anything. I mean if anyone deserves this money it’s the blue collar terrorists, the guys who put their blood sweat and tears into chasing McCord around the arena, the guys who ended up set on fire or blown up or steam pressed because this fire marshall happens to be so god damned ingenuitive.
I think this must be what McCord was thinking when he chased after Grueber and climbed onto his helicopter and made sure to kill the bastard. (The big surprise here is that even though McCord refers to the situation as a “game” throughout the movie, he doesn’t say “I win” or “game over” when he kills him. Good restraint there bud, seriously.)
But I don’t think this is good judgment on McCord’s part and I think he should be ashamed of himself and so should the whole fire department. I mean maybe if he was a security guard he should chase the guy down, it would be his job. But he’s a fire marshall, his job is to prevent fires which means he should NOT be blowing up helicopters while he’s on the clock. I hope if there is another sequel it will start out with him fired and disgraced or at least on suspension like McClane in the beginning of Die Hard: With A Vengeance. If he gets away with this then I can only say that this kind of lenience by employers is the reason why the american work ethic is often so shoddy, they can get away with this kinda crap.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.