Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Knock Off (1998)

office duo, 31,

It's 1997, and Britain is all set to give the colony of Hong Kong back to mainland China. While all this is going on, a sinister conspiracy is afoot, with tiny nanobombs being discovered inside knock-off products. Businessman Marcus Ray and his partner Tommy find themselves neck-deep in it as all hell breaks loose, and they've got to work fast if they want to stop disaster...

Knock Off is a perfect example of cheesy action movies from the later days of the genre. A joint production between America and China, it has all the ingredients to go either terribly wrong, or very right. Where it lands really depends on the viewer, as Knock Off is pretty [wild]!

This is a strange movie, with much of this coming from its off-the-wall presentation, as well as the constant twists and turns of the story and characters. The plot is pretty confusing. The movie is quite short for the modern era, at only 86 minutes. This combined with the mile a minute pace means there's not much time for us to really settle.   confusing in the sense that all the plot details are right there for us to see, each =, but because there are so many, and they intersect so much, it confounds the mind a little

The royal handover of Hong Kong doesn't play a role in the plot, but instead serves as a backdrop, and it's a pretty interesting one! Both as a topical event (this was filmed  during the occasion) and a historical one.

The action here comes hard and fast, and while it numbed my brain a little with how little rest we get, it's still all great fun. The rickshaw race was especially cool to watch. It's pretty unique to see, and a fun example of how crazy Hong Kong can get.

Knock Off is unintentionally hilarious at many moments, and hard to take seriously. But this is alright, as the movie never attempts to. It carries a good tone throughout, never winking at the audience too much, but featuring enough goofy moments (let's be charitable and assume some were intentional) to keep you thoroughly entertained. My favourite moment was by far the character Eddie's fate, which is so unexpected! The moment he opens that safe you know something bad is gonna happen, but what exactly is a hoot.

The characters here are likeable enough. The hero Ray is charming to everyone he meets, honourable while also having a bit of [edge] to him. Tommy begins as a bit of a sleazeball, but undergoes a surprising character shift, and he contributes plenty as the movie goes on, providing a good sidekick. He honestly doesn't feel out of place at all, despite who's playing him.

The local cop Han is a cool dude, though pretty superfluous, given he's just another action dude. He gets the movie's first setpiece all to himself, so I would've been perfectly happy watching a movie starring him all on his own. There are a couple of tough ladies on display here, including Carman Lee as a cop. I was disappointed she wasn't the main heroine, with Lela Rochon's Karen instead taking that place. And lastly, the villains are pretty decent. Nothing special but they all do fine jobs.

The acting in Knock Off is fine for what it is. The only weak performance comes from Van Damme himself, but I don't mean that in a harsh way. The man has a fun =, and even if it might not technically be the best, he always has a charm to him. Rob Schneider, meanwhile, is not annoying here! He does a good job with his character, especially in light of the twists that occur. Lela Rochon and Carmen Lee are =, even if the latter sppears far too little, and Michael Fitzgerald Wong is cool too.

Something I found cool about the movie is how ethnically diverse it is, with a Belgian, Americans, Chinese, black, etc.

Knock Off comes to us from acclaimed Hong Kong director Tsui Hark, who has a long and storied career of mainstream classics, bizarre underground films, =, as well as the odd acting gig to fund his projects (in other words, yes, that goofy guy in Yes Madam is the same Tsui Hark!)  This talent comes across =. There are many unique flourishes of direction and editing, and while not all work, I at least applaud and respect the creativity here, as well as the effort.

The music    groovy too, namely the theme that plays over the credits. The effects here aren't half bad. It's the mid-late 90s here, so horrible CGI was the flavour of the day, and there is a little here, but it;s used sparingly enough, and the seams are hidden decently. The practical moments look great, meanwhile. Cheesy and overblown for sure, and it's crazy how people [explode[ like balloons when shot, but it's all fine.

Overall, Knock Off is laughable in all the best ways, and a perfect time for action junkies to spend an hour and a half. Definitely check it out if you're a Jean-Claude fan, and =...

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