Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a shady character in the aptly named “Knock Off.”

Knock Off_van damme

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
September 7, 1998

1.5 stars

You have seen “Knock Off” before.  And you didn’t like it then, either.

Sure, it may have had a different title and maybe a Dolph Lundgren or a Brandon Lee in the starring role instead of Jean-Claude Van Damme. But the premise has always been the same:  The charming, vaguely shady hero is caught in a web of deceit where no one is what they claim to be.  (In Van Damme’s case, that would be an actor.)

Shot on location in Hong Kong, “Knock Off” is difficult to watch not so much for the violence, but the headache-inducing way that the countless fight scenes are spliced together.

And Marcus Ray (Van Damme) and Tommy Hendricks (Rob Schneider) – two sales reps for an American designer jeans company – get into their share of scrapes.

It turns out that their jeans are cheap knock-offs that are booby trapped with microbombs. The bad guys plan to extort a tidy $100 million each month from world leaders who will either pay up or have to clean up the bloody aftermath of dead bodies clad in detonated designer jeans.

The pair find themselves tangling with the Russian and Chinese mafia, the CIA and a leggy executive (Lela Rochon) from the jeans company who “looks good when she’s mean.”

There’s little chemistry between any of the stars, and the usually radiant Rochon has little more to do than look mean and good.

Directed by Hong Kong’s Tsui Hark, the film’s camerawork is the most interesting aspect of the picture.  The stylistic freeze frame shots in the early part of the picture are especially effective.

But they would be better utilized in another action-adventure, rather than this poor knock-off.

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