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It isn't all that great, actually. Really cheesy and very predicable of how certain scenes are gonna turn play out. However, I guess that's the charm of it all, because I would consider this one of my guilty pleasures.
It is both painfully honest and laugh-out-loud funny at the same time.
There's a more than satisfactory amount of boom-boom in the movie's trim running time.
In this new stand-up special, Norm Macdonald delivers sly, deadpan observations from an older -- and perhaps even wiser -- point of view.I'm not sure if I have heard these jokes before, or if I accidentally watched this special twice. Either way, despite a feeling of deja vu, it was still a knockout performance.The style is not for everyone. The deadpan delivery, the odd observations... this is not Jerry Seinfeld and it is definitely not a series of laugh-out-loud jokes. This is a slow burn that builds until you are inside the world of Norm. Apolitical, not terribly obscene or offensive... just offbeat. And it works.
Hong Kong director Tsui Hark (Once Upon A Time In China 1, II, III and V) first worked with Jean-Claude Van Damme on the incredibly daft Dennis Rodman vehicle Double Team, which was about as insane as action cinema gets. Knock Off sees the director and martial arts star once again teaming up to deliver a movie that simply has to be seen to be believed.Van Damme plays 'King of the Knock Offs' Marcus Ray, a shady businessman based in Hong Kong. When he and his partner Tommy (Rob Schneider) accept an order of counterfeit jeans to be shipped to the U.S., they become unwittingly involved in a plot by evil Russians to hold America to ransom, each pair of trousers containing a tiny micro-bomb that can be detonated by remote control.Knock Off rattles along at breakneck speed, the daft plot becoming more and more ridiculous with each and every scene, and with numerous characters switching sides throughout, the film can be a little hard to follow at times; thankfully, Tsui Hark compensates for his unnecessarily convoluted narrative by ensuring that the action is as exhilarating as possible, with brilliantly choreographed fight scenes and death defying stunts galore, including a wonderful rickshaw race through the streets of Kowloon and a breath-taking battle on board a freight ship where the massive metal containers prove to be just as dangerous as the enemy.Hark enhances his already bonkers action further with highly innovative visuals, the viewer presented with a dizzying array of impressive sweeping camera-work, inventive POV shots and creative camera angles that ensure maximum excitement. As far as the acting goes (as if that really matters), performances range from the good (Lela Rochon as sexy, sassy CIA agent Karen Lee), to the irritating (Rob Schneider doing his obnoxious comedic sidekick schtick), to the forgettable (Paul Sorvino phoning it in as CIA boss Harry Johanson), to the wooden (JCVD displaying his usual limited range).Sadly, Knock Off wasn't too well received at the box office, fans of the Muscles from Brussels obviously struggling with the film's crazy Asian style—a shame, because I would have loved to have seen Hark and Van Damme work together at least one more time.7.5 out of 10, rounded up to 8 for IMDb.
OK, the good.Cinematics: Really the camera work was well done. There were some impressive camera angles and zooms that were very good. Specifically the shot where it was zooming through the hollow building, very cool looking.Acting: There was some good acting, some bad. I felt that Shrapnel was very good, he can't help that he was given a bad script. He did well considering what he was given. Sizemore on the other hand was just OK. Again, some of that was the script/writers. But in comparing him to the work he did in Saving Private Ryan... don't expect that level of quality.The bad (and frustrating).Realism: One man with a pistol versus a whole town with automatic weapons? All of those weapons unloading for 30 seconds without him getting a scratch only to have him turn around and single shot them to the head with that pistol from 50 yards? Then when he finally does get hurt it's due to a glass shard from the window he jumped through. Silly. At least he had to reload.... at that point it hardly seems worth it. Might as well have given him infinite bullets since he only needed 1 per target anyways. :P Sarcasm aside, there was no attempt to make it realistic. This was recurring in one form or another in most every action scene in the movie.Tactics: I'm not military. I do however have profound respect for what they do, and to represent the Navy SEALs this way is disrespectful. There are a ton of scenes where the whole squad was standing fully exposed and firing at anything that popped their heads up, all the while being fired upon. Whenever they were faced with a challenging situation the solution was almost always, "Stand up and blast it". From all that I've seen, our SEALs are good because they train hard and study hard. They know their craft. In this portrayal the characters were just lucky the bad guys didn't know how to shoot.Consistency: One thing that bugged me was that the uniforms were all over the place. It was almost like the production team said, "Oh this looks like a military uniform, we can use that!" All in all I would say: Don't waste your time. I waited it out and felt that I spent most of the time rolling my eyes at the ridiculousness of it all. There were some good points, but it was mostly a stinker. 3/10
From the biznessmen to the government officials, even the hotel lounge's Elvis impersonator, the dialogue, spoken language, actors, character portrayals and cultural depictions are so authentically Russian, it's frightening. And hilarious. Which makes it all the more difficult to believe this a product of American cinema, which seems to prefer perpetuating tired and/or exaggerated Russian stereotypes (whether due to ignorance or apathy is still open to debate). Anthropologically speaking, this film's a bull's-eye; historically, who knows? High production values (including stock footage from the actual campaign -- see Yeltsin dance!), quality casting and genuine humor make for good times. More so if you know Russia(n), less so, perhaps, if you don't. I'm recommending it to friends, and I'd watch it again. Na zdoroviye.