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on December 30, 2001
I am a fan of action movies, but I've found some of Van Damme's previous flicks (most notably, Knock Off), to be below average. After seeing this movie on TV, however, I was quite impressed and ended up buying it.
As with most action movies, this one features a hero (Van Damme) who has to kick some butt, aided by a beautiful girl (Natasha Henstridge). The movie starts off with a pretty good car chase, followed by lots of scenes with guns firing and martial arts sequences. The plot isn't extensive -- Van Damme's character's twin brother is killed and he now assumes his twin's identity, only to be hounded by the Russian mafia and corrupt FBI agents.
I've only seen the VHS version, so unfortunately I can't comment on the DVD sound and video quality. Nevertheless, this is a good standard action flick -- in my opinion, Van Damme's best movie (or at least it rivals Bloodsport), and I recommend it for any action movie fan.
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on April 23, 2011
During his glory days, Jean-Claude Van Damme was somewhat of a vehicle for Hong Kong directors wanting to break into the American film market: previously, he had saddled the freshman outings of Corey Yuen,John Woo, and later Tsui Hark. While those directors were mostly interested in what they could get out of the Muscles from Brussels in terms of guns, car chases, and karate, Ringo Lam of City on Fire and "Maximum Risk" here seemed more intent on developing Van Damme beyond his action hero image via a step into the thriller genre. Whether he was successful is a matter of opinion, but it's unquestionable that this film is one of the most mature outings from this stage in our hero's career and definitely one of his most entertaining and interesting.

The story: when French policeman Alain Moreau (Van Damme) uncovers the death of a twin brother he never knew existed, he assumes his identity to uncover the reason behind his death and his underworld connections in America.

The script by Larry Ferguson (writer of The Hunt for Red October and definitely one of the more respected people to pen a Van Damme movie) places storytelling over action setups and, in general, feels a bit smarter than the average Van Damme vehicle. There isn't any real mystery to the story, though: the revelation of Alain's brother and his affiliation with the Russian mafia is dealt with without too much buildup, and the story begins to revolve around Alain retreading his brother's unsuccessful steps to distance himself from the mob and escape from corrupt FBI agents. His relationship with his brother's old flame (Natasha Henstridge, Species) is interesting at first but is then more or less dropped into your lap. Nevertheless, the movie never loses a sense of suspense: Alain doesn't seem quite as empowered as other characters Van Damme was playing at the time, so it rarely seems impossible that he could be killed. Soundly-weighed production values by director Lam help set a good mood and the art direction is, at times, inspired.

While the film's not built on it, the action content soundly supplements the package. Shootouts, car demolitions, and some on-foot chases are all fun enough, but it's the hand-to-hand fights that really catch your eye. This was arguably the first film in which Van Damme moved away from flashy karate moves and indulged in a slightly more realistic style of fight scene - inclusive of plenty of gritty brawling and grappling - and he couldn't have had a better opponent than vale tudo champion Stefanos Miltsakakis. Though their rematch in Derailed was a disaster, their three encounters here are among the few instances in movies wherein MMA-esque fighting isn't a bore to watch. The battle in an elevator is especially entertaining and features brutal close-quarters choreography that wouldn't be matched until the Bourne movies.

The film features a pretty good cast, including Jean-Hugues Anglade (Betty Blue) as Alain's partner and David Hemblen (Exotica) in a limited role as the leader of the Russian mafia, but the unexpected dramatic moment of the picture belongs to Van Damme for a surprisingly adept instance of silent acting near the end of the movie wherein Alain listens to a recorded message by his late brother. Ringo Lam would continue to bring a little something extra out of Jean-Claude in the future, even directing him to his first-ever dramatic award nomination five years later, but "Maximum Risk" is probably the most palatable of all their collaborations for its all-around strengths and mainstream appeal. Van Damme fans can't go wrong, here.
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on October 27, 2003
Van Damme has Derailed and went In Hell for some of his career, but this one I would say is his best, well next to Universal Soldier and Bloodsport I'd say its right up there with them. basically about Van Damme getting killed and then Van Damme coming into his brothers life. fast action and a good finale make this worth while
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on August 7, 2015
The film opens "South of France" which would be what? Spain? Andorra maybe? Nope. It was still France. We then see Jean-Claude Van Damme get killed and then we see him attending a funeral, but it wasn't even his funeral. As it turns out he is dead in an ambulance (a French one and not a Spanish one) looking at himself. Mom never told him about the twin she sold into white slavery. His twin would be raised in America being a wage slave in the capitalist system. But wait, he managed to escape all that by working for the Russian Mafia because the Albanians haven't made it big yet, and you can't get babes like Natasha Henstridge working at Wal-Mart, even if you make manager with benefits.

For some reason, Claude decides to investigate himself and travels to America only to discover the most annoying cab driver, who has English as his first language. At some point in time I would have backed out, but not Van Damme who still had 45 minutes to get into the can, and with a body count that was almost nil.

Mindless Van Damme fun.

Guide Brief sex. Nudity (Natasha Henstridge)
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on January 11, 2004
THIS HAS TO BE ONE OF VAN DAMME'S TOP 3 MOVIES. There is plenty of action and excitement that will make you want to watch it over and over again. Natasha Henstridge is down right sexy and georgeous. She played a perfect role in this movie. The movie was well-acted and thought it deserved a 5 star. This movie is a must-own on DVD. The sound quality is great as well as the picture. *Van Damme kicks plenty of...
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on March 21, 2013
Fast pace action! But the disk arrived scratched up because the hub that secures it was broken allowing the disk to be bounced around in the case. The sharp edges from the broken hub scratched the disk.
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on March 13, 2013
While not necessarily one of my favorites from his more "classic" collection (Bloodsport, Kickboxer, etc.), I give this one a lot of credit for creating an overall highly suspenseful experience, full of intense action/chase sequences, and with more of a story than many other action-oriented efforts in its class. It has a very polished feel, and the acting is actually better than a lot of those "classics."

I almost forgot about this one, but after revisiting it, I really liked it and would say it's one of JCVD's better films. Plus... Natasha Henstridge. Hot!

The quality of the instant video was good. Definitely worth the rent.
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on September 26, 2013
Good movie with plenty of action, bad guys and Natasha adds some sexiness to the movie. Van Damn still has it and does a few moves but he's slowing down...nothing like Bloodsport, Lionheart or Kickboxer, those days are over...
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on March 28, 2014
Its a shame when action actors like Van Damme and Seagal get older that stunt doubles are more required to take up the slack of quicker punches and moves. As for this one though...its awesome and I saw more of his own moves. It has a lot of action throughout and a good story to back it up. Not to mention a good supporting actress at his side. This is probably Van Dammes last great one before the newer, and not so great ones were made later going straight to DTV. Now I have to say that "In Hell" was good too. I will review that next.
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VINE VOICEon January 13, 2009
The Jean Claude Van Damme Review Matrix (JCVD-RM)

1. Who is he? At first he's a Russian guy named Mikhail Suverov, then he's a French Policeman named Alain Moreau
2. Which family member/friend must be avenged? When Suverov gets capped by the Russian mob, JCVDx2
3. Does he take his shirt off? In the most homoerotic of all places, a Russian bath-house, but he makes up for it later...
4. Does he have sex with a C-List actress? JCVD has never attained a higher level than Natasha Henstridge, who looks absolutely stunning
5. Is there a tournament? There is no tournament. But since there are two JCVDs, that wouldn't have been fair anyway, now would it?
6. Is training needed for this tournament? No training needed
7. Does he do the splits in training or in the tournament? No splits are done
8. Does he punch someone in the balls? An early knee to the sack is delivered just for the checkmark
9. Does he do a series of flying or 360 kicks? Most definitely
10. Is his enemy unbeatable? The Russian mob and the FBI are formidable, but far from unbeatable.
11. Does he overcome an injury or other hindrance? He gets stabbed early on, but `tis a flesh wound.
12. Does he win? It's like pouring a gallon of win into a shot glass.

Opening with the greatest "mobile fruit stand being pursued by the Russian mafia"-chase scene in cinema history, JCVD teams up with director Ringo Lam for his first completely jaw-dropping JCVD experience - they later paired up for Replicant (another JCVDx2 venture) and Wake of Death (JCVD's best acting job). From the very beginning, there is no doubt that awesome-factor 10 is about to ensue.

The plot is typical of Van Damme movies and soap operas: A relative of JCVD gets killed (i.e. JCVD #1), it turns out to be his twin brother, and it's up to JCVD to spin-kick and ball-punch his way through the Russian mafia for the answers. Without going to deep into it, this is tied for first place for all JCVD movies. A few reasons why:

- Natasha Henstridge completely nude, multiple times
- Claustrophobic car chase on narrow European streets
- The only JCVD movie to feature strippers
- Three of the best fight scenes in cinema history against a Russian behemoth (who looks like NFL-bust Brian Bosworth):
a) best fist fight inside a fiery inferno in cinema history
b) best elevator knife fight in cinema history
c) best non-gay bathhouse fight by two guys in nothing but towels in cinema history

To top it all off, I'm completely convinced the game Crazy Taxi (released in 1999) and Mel Gibson's character from Conspiracy Theory (1997) - conveniently one year after Maximum Risk - were completely plagiarized from an insane New York cab driver from this movie.
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