Review: Wake Of Death

Wake Of Death is a Jean Claude Van Damme movie from 2004 that has been given a fresh new release on Blu Ray, DVD and Digital and is now available on these formats. JCVD at the time was going through a bit of a slump in his career after being touted as difficult to work with and other ‘outside influences’ affecting his work. Wake Of Death was seen as something of a comeback at the time, despite him not actually stopping working.

When Ben Archer (Jean-Claude Van Damme) decides he wants out of the organized crime world, he moves to America with his wife, Cynthia (Lisa King), and son, Nicholas (Pierre Marais). Cynthia brings home a rescued Chinese girl who she turns out to be the daughter of Triad kingpin Sun Quan (Simon Yam), who murders Cynthia and takes the girl and Nicholas. Rekindling his old mob connections, Ben embarks on a bloody vendetta to save the kids and punish Quan for his wife’s death.

For a somewhat generic style action movie, for 2004, Wake Of Death was actually ahead of it’s time. The action is at times fast, brutal and unrelenting. None more so than the shoot out in the restaurant that leaves a few patrons without sections of their heads. JCVD actually puts in a decent performance as the Paul Kelsey (Death Wish) esque father who after his wife is slain in said restaurant he goes after the perpetrators with reckless abandon and for once it doesn’t feature his brother being JCVD playing his own twin, this time his brother is played by Pierre Marais, who holds a decent account of himself in the chop-sockie stakes.

The plot contrivances are pretty shambolic (JCVD’s social worker wife convincing her bosses that she should take home a little girl illegal immigrant who was with a group on a boat, rather than following due process, promising ‘just give me a week’ is somewhat ridiculous), the beginning of the film will have you wondering if you’ve actually put the correct film on with a rather full on ‘love’ scene during the opening credits. For the rest of the film, well it’s almost entirely shot in close up of everybody’s face, which is a rather strange choice of director Philippe Martinez.

However, if you’re a fan of JCVD you’ll likely dig Wake Of Death but don’t expect him at anywhere near his best.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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Cert: 18  Run Time: 91 mins approx

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