Price: 75 centz
Length: 91 Mins
Director: Tsui Hark
Writer: Steven E. de Souza
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Rob Schneider, Lela Rochon, Paul Sorvino
This movie is so fucking great that not even Rob Schneider could ruin it.
Sit back and take a moment to think about what that might mean to you.
Think about how great a movie has to be for that sniveling little cunt the Schneid not to shit all over it with his cockfaced mugging and contorted whiny whine.
Can you visualize it?
Now take that movie that you have in your head, the one that is so glistening and moist that Schneider can't fuck it up, and multiply it by a thousand and you're still nowhere near the greatness that is KNOCK OFF.
If you don't like Jean-Claude Van Damme, you can repeat the exercise from above with his name in place of Schneid's, but then you would be making me sad because what has Jean-Claude ever done to you? He's so talented! He only wants to entertain you and make you happy!
From a young age, JCVD has always made me happy. Bloodsport was the most frequently shown movie on KTLA channel 5 back in the early 90s and I probably watched it 20 times. We used to reenact scenes from it at recess in the third grade. It was awesome. But as great as Bloodsport is, its self seriousness robs it of some of the power that JCVD would later become best known for: his oblivious ridiculousness.
Now as far as absurd Jean Claude moments go, the climax to SUDDEN DEATH seemed to be an insurmountable peak. Here JCVD plays a disgraced former fireman who, in attempt to save the Vice President and an arena full of spectators from being exploded by terrorists, somehow winds up playing goalie for the Pittsburgh Penguins during the closing moments of game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
However, only a year later, Junior College Venereal Disease would take matters of his own ludicrousness into his own paws of destiny when he crafted his definitive auteur piece, THE QUEST, which he wrote, directed, and stars in. Within the first 20 minutes of this surrealistic and elliptically strange genre piece, JCVD fights off a gang of attackers while dressed as a sad clown on stilts with much thanks to a gang of adorable cockney boot black orphans who he cares and provides for in an abandoned warehouse, then he winds up on a boat where he is enslaved and forced to fight in tournaments for his owners enjoyment before being sold to Roger Moore (playing himself) who takes him to some tournament in the middle of Asia where first prize is a 20 foot long dragon made out of like 3 tons of gold (shipping and handling not included with victory). Sample the final fight from it:
While THE QUEST has become recognized in some circles (the ones in my head) as a left-field masterpiece and possibly the purest distillation of the divine madness that is being Jean-Claude, KNOCK OFF is an unparalleled trip into the outer edges of aggro retardation that is undoubtedly JCVD's most insane, OTT, and patently AZN movie ever. Its sub-par reputation in this sad, joyless country of ours probably has most to do with the culture divide. In 1998, Americans weren't quite ready for a movie this gonzo. Hopefully, in a world beaten down by the RADD!! likes of CRANK, RUNNING SCARED, BAD BOYS II, and SHOOT EM UP, KNOCK OFF can get the second life it so richly demands.
If you are not convinced by the empty hyperbole and vague assertions that have so far passed for a compelling argument in favor of this film, a mere plot description will totaaly sway yr vote.
It is 1997 and Hong Kong is on the verge of being transferred over from British crown colony to Chinese sovereign and JCVD plays Marcus Ray, the owner of a counterfeit jeans company of questionable business practices. In other words, he is a sweatshop owner who makes Pumma sneakers and V-Six Jeans. He gets involved in some weirdness when it turns out that Russians (in 1997!) want to take over the world using nano bombs placed inside the buttons of Jean Claude's bootleg jeans. Jean-Claude senses that exploding jeans would be bad for business, especially considering that the CIA is trying to crack down on his exportations to the United States at the same time. Somehow, Paul Sorvino is involved as well and shit starts going bananas before the plot can begin to remotely resemble anything coherent. It is splendid!
Jean Claude tries to explain what is important in life with some boog suge assistance:
I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to the two people who we can truly thank for the mind erasing greatness of KNOCK OFF, Tsui Hark and Steven E. de Souza. Tsui Hark made a bunch of sweet Hong Kong action movies like ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA and de Souza wrote DIE HARD, which is the best script for any action movie ever.
But KNOCK OFF is the best script for any movie ever, which is more impressive, so let's focus on that. Watch this scene of Van Damme beating the shit out of a sexy lady (she slaps Schneider around first at least) and come back to me:
Did you notice how easily Van Damme's clothes tore off the reveal his xxxey back? It's because they are knock offs. His clothes keep falling apart the whole movie because they are of poor quality (most notable are his Pumma sneakers melting when he is running with them in the scene that the pic up top is from). Brilliant! This film is hilariously self-aware without turning into a meta shit fest or aspiring to be anything more than a hilariously weird, violent distraction best consumed by sexually frustrated teenage boys and the visibly altered, which is probably why I like it so much!!!
Here's your reward for getting this far:
SOME DAMN FINE VAN DAMCING!!!
P.S. That last one is from Breakin'! That movie has a great soundtrack!