Double Team - 1/2*

Dennis Rodman may be an intriguing personality on the basketball court, but his initial foray into the movies proves he should stay out. Double Team is a fairly standard Jean-Claude Van Damme action flick. As with Hard Target and Maximum Risk, he is introducing a well known Hong Kong action director into the American movie scene (in this case, Tsui Hark). Van Damme plays superspy Jack Paul Quinn, a counterterrorism expert. Dennis Rodman is Yaz, a black market arms dealer who is one of Quinn’s contacts (albeit a funny looking one). Of course, although he has lots of guns, and is stated to be an arms dealer, the script writes his character as Dennis Rodman, Basketball Player. Nearly every single line of his dialogue has a basketball reference, and the action sequences in which he is involved have a heavy basketball theme (in the film’s most preposterous sequence, the heroic duo are saved by a basketball from the skies). The plot tries to do a bit too much in its spare ninety minutes, and as a result, although there are a few interesting ideas here and there, not one gets full attention, and the whole film seems somewhat half baked. But the plot, as it is, goes something like this: After a too-lengthy introduction to Van Damme’s character, he botches an assassination attempt of the terrorist Stavros (Mickey Rourke), killing Stavros’ kid instead. While Van Damme is sent to the Island of Misfit Spies, Stavros kidnaps his wife and unborn son in an act of revenge. Now Van Damme must escape from the island, team up with Dennis Rodman, and kick some ass. Director Hark stages a couple of good action sequences with inventive camera work, but has a problem with pacing throughout the entire film. Some scenes seem to go on forever, with no noticable purpose. Others explaining crucial plot points are skimmed over with blazing speed. Perhaps the film would have been better had it focused more intensely on one or two of its elements (the colony of spies, perhaps), and dropped the rest. But no, then we wouldn’t get to have Dennis Rodman’s blazing debut. As an actor, he is truly horrid. Heck, the script gives him the easy treatment…he only needs to play himself. However, every line he utters seems as if it originated from a teleprompter. He’s more wooden in his delivery than Al Gore. You just have to sit back and admire his ever shifting hair color whenever he’s on screen. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t give you any relief. It sets up interesting visual scenes at the expense of believability. Take for example the guy who knife-fights with his feet, or loosing a tiger to kill Van Damme in the Roman Colliseum which has been mined with landmines that have the strength of a nuclear blast, and covering him with snipers. Talk about overkill. And underneath it all it a rather ordinary Van Damme flick, and not one of his best.

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