In 1991's Double Impact, directed by Sheldon Lettich, Jean Claude Van Damme plays a double role. First, he's a nice guy named Chad who teaches women how to stretch... but he's also a bad guy thug named Alex. They're twin brothers, except that they don't know about one another because when they were six months old some bad guys killed their parents. Thankfully a guy named Frankie (Geoffrey Lewis) was able to shoot a bad guy named Moon (Bolo Yeung) in the face and save Chad, whereas Alex was dropped off at a French convent in Hong Kong (?). So, they grew up leading separate lives but once they realize what's happened, they hang out with Alex's girlfriend Danielle (Alonna Shaw) at a giant abandoned house, blow up a few Mercedes Benz sedans and then eventually get around to fighting the bad guys, led by Moon and his employer Raymond Zhang (Philip Chan) and his vicious female bodyguard Kora (Corinna Everson). Oh, and of course they've got to figure out what happened to their parents as well.
That's pretty much it for Double Impact and while the movie is every bit as dopey as that admittedly basic plot synopsis makes it sound, there's no denying the fun factor. First off, the novelty of seeing Van Damme play twins does count for something. It's weird idea, but he does enough to give the two characters separate personalities. Sure, it mostly amount's to Chad's good and Alex isn't, but even once they sort out their differences there's two distinct personalities here (and hey, they have different haircuts too!). And to be fair, Van Damme is pretty solid here as far as his acting goes. Either way, assuming you're a Van Damme fan, that can only be a seen as a good thing because the movie doubles down on the Muscles From Brussels and comes up a winner!
There are some enjoyably odd supporting performances here as well. The aforementioned Geoffrey Lewis is pretty entertaining. The instantly recognizable character actor who has been in everything from The Devil's Rejects to Maverick to Fletch Lives (where he played a Klansman!) has enough wonky charm to make his role a memorable one. And you can't go wrong any time you cast Bolo Yeung in a movie as the heavy. As Moon, he's not stretching as an actor in the least, but as Moon he's a big, tough Asian guy with a chip on his shoulder and a penchant for kicking ass. That's the type of role that you want for Bolo, and while his acting range is admittedly very limited, he suits the part well and, as always, is a lot of fun to watch. Philip Chan is delightfully evil and Corinna Everson makes quite an impression as the toughest lady loving lady in Hong Kong.
The movie is very much a product of its time. The fashions are really, really dated and the whole thing just oozes early nineties culture. That's not a bad thing, really, just an observation. There's definitely going to be some nostalgia felt by those of us of a certain age when we sit down and revisit this one, and that could be where some of the awkward enthusiasm in this review stems from. Still, Lettich, who had previously directed Van Damme in Lionheart a year prior (and would direct him again in The Order and The Hard Corps) and who worked on the script for this film with JCVD himself, does a fine job. He keeps the action coming at a good pace, he delivers the right mix of action and comedy without ever losing sight of the fact that this is an action movie first and he gets fun performances out of his cast. The Hong Kong locations are put to good use and the action scenes and fight choreography are actually legitimately impressive in spots.
So yeah, fine, Double Impact is hard to take seriously but you're never really asked to. This goes consistently over the top and it delivers pretty much all you'd hope for from an early nineties Van Damme film. It is, in short, a good time at the movies. This one is a blast.
Double Impact arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer on a 50GB disc framed in the film's proper 1.85.1 aspect ratio. This transfer is a good one, showing better black levels than the older MGM release. Detail is pretty solid throughout, and the image stays nice and clean. There isn't any obvious noise reduction here nor is there any edge enhancement to complain about. A natural amount of film grain is here, as it should be, and the movie shows nice depth and texture. Colors look good, skin tones are fine. No problems at all, this is a solid transfer.
Audio options are offered in LPCM 2.0 Stereo in the film's native English and in Spanish language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with removable subtitles offered in English, French and Spanish. The lossless tracks sounds good. Dialogue stays clean and properly balanced and there's some decent channel separation in a few of the action set pieces. There are no problems to note with any hiss or distortion and the score sounds nice and strong.
MVD has absolutely stacked this disc with extras (which is great, because the older MGM Blu-ray only had a trailer on it) and fans should be more than pleased with the results. We start off with a two part The Making Of Double Impact that runs roughly one-hundred-and-twelve-minutes combined. There's a LOT of stuff in here, not the least of which are some extensive and exclusive interviews with Van Damme and Lettich, producer Ashok Amritraj, co-stars Cory Everson-Donia and Peter Malota (who also worked on the fight choreography) and, amazingly enough, the guys who played the "Chad" and "Alex" photo doubles: Jeff Rector and Jerry Rector. Lots of great stories here, covering how and why The Corsican Brothers was essentially turned into an action movie for Van Damme, the contract that he was under at the time, casting the film (including some interesting bits about who didn't wind up in the movie), stunts and location work in both L.A. and Hong Kong, the writing of the script, the intricacies of filming a crotch grab, the fight choreography and loads more. This is as interesting as it is well put together and it really is the type of thing that hardcore fans of the film will go crazy for.
Also new to this release is a whopping fifty-four-minutes of deleted and extended scenes from the film. There's some very cool stuff in here including the extended murder of the parents (which is substantially more violent than the version in the finish cut) and a few more scenes with stronger violence than we see in the theatrical version. There are some additional dialogue bits in here too, and some character development pieces likely trimmed for pacing reasons. There's also an alternate ending included here. All of this material has been sourced from some rough looking VHS tapes with time code, some aren't even in color, but it's great to see the material included here given that it's never been made public before.
Moving on to some of the shorter extras, we get Double Impact: Anatomy Of A Scene, which is an exclusive eight-minute segment with Lettich wherein he walks us through the film's intense chase scene in the harbor district of Hong Kong. MVD has also dug up a seven-minute vintage behind the scenes piece from 1991 that features interviews shot during the making of the film with Jean-Claude Van Damme, Moshe Diamant and Charles Layton. Clearly it's not as in-depth as the new piece but it's nice to see it included here. There's also an eight-minute Double Impact: B-Roll Selections that shows off some behind the scenes footage shot during the making of the movie in very raw form. Moving right along, in the Double Impact: Film Clips section spend five-minutes checking out five clips from the movie that were used in TV promo spots to advertise its theatrical run. There's also a six-minute EPK piece from 1991 that contains yet more interviews with Van Damme, Diamant and Layton.
Finishing off the extras on the disc are an MVD Rewind Collection promo, a theatrical trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection options. As to the packaging, MVD provide a slipcover as well as a mini-poster included inside the keepcase.
Double Impact isn't deep, but it doesn't matter because it's a ridiculous amount of fun. The movie's got a solid cast and it really does contain some pretty impressive action scenes. It puts entertainment value front and center and on that level it delivers. MVD has done a great job bringing this one back to Blu-ray with a very fine presentation and an absolutely killer selection of extras features. Highly recommended!