Thursday, September 15, 2016

Film Review: Sudden Death (1995)

Sudden Death (Review)
United States/1995
Format Viewed Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...one of my favorite Van Damme movies."

Darren McCord (Jean-Claude Van Damme), a former fireman working as a fire marshal, faces a group of terrorists who are holding the Vice President hostage during the NHL finals.

Sudden Death follows Darren McCord, a fireman who is guilt-ridden due to his failure to save a girl in a burning house. Two years later, he's working as a fire marshal at the Civic Center. For his son's birthday, he takes his son and daughter to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Of course, he's also working at the same time. Anyway, the Vice President of the United States also happens to be stopping by to catch the game. So, a group of terrorist pounce on the opportunity and take him hostage. Why would Darren take on a group of terrorist for the VP, you ask? Well, because his daughter also gets caught – damn kids. So, Darren fights his way through a bunch of killers and defuses a bunch of bombs. That's your plot. Yes, it is Die Hard during a hockey game. Does that make it bad? Nope.

Sudden Death is actually a very entertaining movie. After watching Hard Target 2 during the weekend, I figured I should jump back into some older action films. I wanted to see if the older movies were as cheesy as Hard Target 2 – they're not. Anyway, Sudden Death was great. It's a suspenseful film with plenty of exciting scenes. It's balanced very well, too, creating a very consistent pace. It's always building up – and delivering while doing so. This is one of those films where I didn't check my clock or the runtime. I was captivated from beginning to end. It's not the most original film, but it is very well made. However, most of the characters, like the kids, don't have much depth. The son wasn't even consistent – one minute, he was praising his dad; the next, he's ridiculing him. Also, it is one of those films where most characters are incompetent. Keep that in mind.

Jean-Claude Van Damme is great. Okay, he's not bringing any Oscars home, but he's a charismatic action star. He works well in this role and he gives a dedicated performance. (A side-note: he's one of my childhood heroes, so take it with a grain of salt.) Powers Boothe plays the bad guy very well, too – you just want to strangle the guy. The music and cinematography are great, too. The film was written by Genie Quintano and directed by Peter Hyams. The characters could use some work and the plot contrivances are a bit blatant, but Quintano did a good job making the Die Hard formula his own. Hyams, director of The Relic (one of my favorite creature features), crafts a great action film with splendid pacing and solid variety.

Overall, Sudden Death is a great movie. After this viewing, I can safely say it is one of my favorite Van Damme movies. It's not as good as Bloodsport or Kickboxer, but it's one of his better movies. If you're a fan of action movies that aren't nearly three hours long and filled with computer effects, this is for you.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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