Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Double Team (1997)

There was a time in America when the basketball player was our nation's superhero. By the 1990s, the powers that be decided that if these titans could excel on the court, surely they could achieve greatness at everything else, be it acting, comedy, selling products, or rapping.

Of course superheroes need their villains, and Dennis Rodman epitomized the Jordan antithesis. His raucous on court persona often overshadowed his amazing defense, and would take every opportunity for the sake of victory.

In 1997, he punished his fans as much as his competitors by teaming up with Jean Claude Van Damme in the action/comedy/martial arts buddy action comedy Double Team. Directed by John Woo wannabe Hark Sui (Once Upon a Time in China 1, 2, 3, and 5), Double Team is a love story between super spy Jack Quinn (Van Damme), the woman he loves (Natacha Lindinger), himself (Van Damme) his unborn child he also loves (unnamed), and the goofy giant tattooed arms dealer Yaz (Rodman), whose eyes he looks into deeply in times of great stress.

Go pound it.

Quinn is brought out of spy retirement to take down international terrorist Stavros (Mickey Rourke) once and for all. For too long Stavros has done a lot of bad things, mostly unnamed, but he has a non-American name and lots of bombs. Quinn and his super team of elite spies confront Stavros in the second best place for a shootout: a carnival. Needless to say the sting takes an ugly turn, resulting in an intense firefight and multiple explosions. The maelstrom doesn't faze carnival attendees, however, who continue to partake in the attractions.

Truly a pre-9/11 world.

Quinn and Stavros immediately transition to the best place for an actual shootout: a maternity ward. Stavros cowardly sets off a bomb in front of a baby, which Quinn shields with his bulging back muscles, knocking him unconscious.

It's just you and me, baby.

Quinn's failure results in his decommissioning. In the spy world this means either death, or a spy retirement community known as "The Colony," an island among a tropical spy retirement archipelago.

Truly a fate worse than death.

When Quinn learns that Stavros has kidnapped his wife and unborn child, he concocts an elaborate plan to escape past the underwater lasers. I won't bore you with every single detail, but it does involve completely trashing his room during the training process, unbeknownst to his supposedly professional handlers.

The path to escape is littered with bathtubs.

Also cutting off his own fingerprint (apparently there was no rubber cement around).


Quinn makes it beneath the supply boat, and the brave scuba guard shoves a bag over his head, a spy move known as the "double suffo-drown."

Hey dawg we heard you like drowning, so we put a bag over you underwater so you can drown while you drown.

Our hero finally makes it to Stavros with the help of Yaz, only to be caught in an elaborate trap, this one involving land mines and a tiger in the middle of the coliseum.

No caption necessary.

Quinn and Yaz double team Stavros, explode the tiger, and survive by shielding themselves behind a monolith of product placement.

Coke is the true hero.

"Dumb" does not begin to describe Double Team. It is a bloated hunk of nostalgia, an unnecessary product of a decade already overflowing with excessive stupidity. Rodman and Van Damme's moments together aren't so much scenes, as samplings of catchphrases disconnected from any possible reality, logic, charisma or purpose. Mickey Rourke acts circles around everyone simply by existing. Where is Rodman's trademark agility and spontaneity? He trips through every moment, resting on his Freak Flag laurels, and rarely does he ever say anything not expected of Dennis Rodman, or someone donning a Dennis Rodman persona.

And yet, Double Team is still fun. A carnival was an appropriate setpiece, since it maintains similar  sideshow appeal. At no point was I expecting it to be any better than it was, and there is some honor in that.

Arbitrary Rating

One bloody thumb up.


Quinn: Who does your hair, Siegfried or Roy?

Yaz: I may not have reindeer, but I have the best elves in the business.

Quinn: Offense gets the glory.
Yaz: But defense wins the game.

Female Spy: With this I can shoot the dick off a hummingbird.

Quinn: I thought I killed him in Tulsa (pronounced "TOO-sla.")
Goldsmythe: Apparently not well enough.

Yaz: You die, you get a full refund.

Yaz: You're crazier than my hairstylist!

Yaz: These monks have been collecting info on Rome for 500 years. The system has been really updated. CyberMonks.



Rodman tearing it up on the court.

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