Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sudden Death (1995) * * *

Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Powers Boothe, Raymond J. Barry, Dorian Harewood

Directed by Peter Hyams

Die Hard in a Hockey Arena best describes this exciting Van Damme vehicle. Here “The Muscles from Brussels” finds himself the only one able to thwart terrorists who have taken the Vice President hostage in the VIP box. To make matters worse the lead terrorist (Powers Boothe, in an excellent performance) has set up “…enough bombs to stop all the clocks in the hemisphere” and among the hostages in the VIP box is the daughter of Van Damme, which leads to a face off where Van Damme tries to disarm bombs, kick boxes the crap out of various terrorists disguised as personnel (Including the Penguins Mascot in the film’s best moment) in a surprisingly darkly comic and suspenseful Die Hard clone. Van Damme gives one of his better performances, while featuring Van Damme in some of his most exciting action sequences and in what is ultimately one of Van Damme’s best movies. Indeed if Sudden Death has a problem is that it sometimes doesn’t know how to top itself, in particular the arena roof showdown while well staged, comes off as anti-climatic in comparison to the set pieces where Van Damme beats up the Penguins mascot, plays as goalie and uses the arena lights to swing over and breach the VIP box. Sudden Death of course comes recommended for promising exactly what it delivers and doing so with style, suspense and a sense of humor.

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