Knock Off

Howdy all you Supercultists out there on the interwebz!
I’m Bad Movie Professor Cameron Coker (BS in “Kung-Fu” with a minor in “Rob Schneider”) and I’ll be posting my hype-tacular speeches every week along with some long lost speeches from past Supercult Shows!

This week it’s Jean-Claude Van Damme in Knock Off!

Knock Off Poster

Honk Kong fashion designer Marcus Ray specializes in “knock-offs”, cheaply produced clothing meant to look like brand name merchandise. With his new partner Tommy Hendricks, Marcus hopes to put these shady dealings behind him and one day go legit, but unbeknownst to Marcus, his new partner is actually an undercover CIA agent investigating the smuggling of mini-bombs within Marcus’ products. Now Marcus is caught in an elaborate web of espionage and counter-terrorism spun by the KGB and Tommy’s CIA superior Harry Johansen. Can Marcus clear his name and save his company? And can he do it all while local Honk Kong authorities link him to a murder and a VP from his parent company pays him a visit to inspect his financial records?? When it comes to action, there is no substitute for Knock Off!

Released in 1998, only a few weeks prior to the first Rush Hour movie, Knock Off is the second collaboration between action star Jean Claude Van Damme and director Hark Tsui after Double Team a year prior. Tsui, who’s work includes the 7 film “Once Upon a Time in China” series (which were some of Jet Li’s first big films in China before he made his way to the states) is well known in the Chinese film industry as a major figure in the Golden Age of Hong Kong cinema. He has been regarded by critics as “one of the masters of Asian cinematography”…so why is Knock Off (and Double Team for that matter) so incredibly BAD?

Maybe it’s because it stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as Marcus Ray, and Rob Schneider as his undercover CIA partner Tommy Hendricks? In fact, Inspector Han, one of the many Honk Kong Officials that are harassing Van Damme throughout the film, is played by Michael Wong who is barely known outside of China, but he could have been played by Jet Li, if he hadn’t turned down the role at the last minute do to Lethal Weapon 4 instead.

It might also be because a lot of the quality kung-fu fights directed by superstar actor, director, and action choreographer Sammo Hung Kam-Bo were cut from the final version of the film. Having worked on everything from “Ip Man” and “Enter the Dragon” to Jackie Chan’s “Mr. Nice Guy” and “Kung Fu Hustle”, it seems downright silly that the “Making of” featured on several DVD editions of the film have more fighting than the actual film itself.  It’s even noticeable at times how heavily edited some scenes are. Discerning Supercultists might even be able to tell that Van Damme’s final fight with Tickler on a boat has raged across several different sections of said boat.

Knock Off has a 4.4 on IMDB and a whopping 8% on Rotten Tomatoes, worse than Double Team’s 11% and might’ve been the worst rated movie we’ve seen this semester if it weren’t for Kazaam’s record breaking 6%. Many critics recommend it only to the most die-hard Van Damme fans, while others point out the cluttered and unintelligible plot that gets in the way of the action.

Leave it to me, though, to find that one Supercult worthy 10/10 review from Vernoff-3 on IMDB who writes, ”Twenty years from now, critics will look back and wonder in dismay how they could have ignored the MOST cutting edge film to be released in the 90’s. “Knock Off” is this decade’s “Blade Runner.””

That’s all we needed to hear. The Supercult Show is proud to present Knock Off!

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