AKA: The Exchange
Director: Ringo Lam
Writer: Larry Ferguson
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Natasha Henstridge, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Zach Grenier, Paul Ben-Victor, Frank Senger, Stefanos Miltsakakis, Frank Van Keeken, David Hemblen, Stéphane Audran
Running Time: 100 min.
By James H.
I swear, Van Damme must have a curse on him. This curse gives bad luck to all involved with his movies. This curse has struck acclaimed Hong Kong film director Ringo Lam. It happened to Lam, Tsui Hark and it almost happened to John Woo. Lam is an accomplished director, and could have a bright future in Hollywood, if he never works with Van Damme again.
“Maximum Risk” is about a cop (Van Damme) from Nice who discovers he has a twin brother who is with the Russian mafia. The plot is definitely not new or original by any standard, but it has the potential to be done well and keep the viewer’s interest. This film had that potential, but it was discarded for action sequences. The mystery is pretty much solved in the first half hour of the movie.
The characters, as in all Van Damme (and ‘B’ grade action movies), are cliched cardboard cut-outs. The cops follow the same rules as all ‘B’ movie cops do: kill first, ask questions later. The female lead is played by Natasha Henstridge (“Species”). And I can say I’m glad I’m not her boyfriend. She shows very little concern when she finds out the love of her life was killed. She also shows little loyalty when she doink’s her dead lover’s brother. But really, that’s as far as Henstridge’s acting abilities can go. Did you see “Species”? She didn’t become famous because she gave a stellar performance, she showed her titties. And she does here too.
The action in “Maximum Risk” is generally well done by ‘B’ grade American Action Movie standards (or BAAM for short). But for HK, or rather Lam’s standards, it is below average. Lam, who directed the excellent “Full Contact”, is not used to his full potential. Van Damme has this thing where he thinks he knows more than the director. There is only one small fraction of a scene that truly show’s Lam’s talent (you’ll know it when you see it).
“Maximum Risk” is nothing to write home about. Van Damme still can’t act and still has trouble with the English language. The villains aren’t very villainous or convincing, especially the two FBI agents. As far as BAAMs go, it’s not bad, but for a Van Damme movies, it’s pretty good.
James H’s Rating: 5/10