Howdy, y’all! McEric here and boy have I got a tall-tale for you! There I was, just minding my own business, eating White Castle sliders and listening to Q Lazzarus, when the entire apartment lost power. I stumbled through the darkness, my knees and shins quickly establishing the corner of every piece of furniture I owned, when suddenly my TV blinked itself on and MAXIMUM IMPACT started streaming at me.
Check out the trailer here:
I was taken aback because the film starts with very little foreplay. Like, there was one production company logo then it was upon me. The film title filled the screen (along with some very bad music, but let’s move on) then I was treated to a blurb that US-Russian relations are strained and we need a miracle, and now goddammit!
Enter the miracle: Evgeniy Stychkin as Andrei “The Hammer from Hell” Durov. Dispatched by the FSB (Russian Security Service; basically the modern equivalent of the KGB) to ask crime bosses to calm the hell down while tensions are high, he meets with a hamming Danny Trejo (you know who Danny Trejo is) and gets himself clubbed over the head. Miracle suspended. Oops; head-wound means his Guy in the Chair gets a battlefield promotion.
The Guy in the Chair is Maxim Kadurin, played by Alexander Nevksy, a mountain of a man who badly wants to be your new favorite action star. So much so that he has produced, written, and/or produced a handful of films since 2004 to get his name out there, surrounding himself with “top” talent and vying to dominate mid-evening Cinemax and USA Network. I was reminded instantly of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s initial appearances in International Film, and more so of his post-zenith career. Nevsky will almost certainly garner quicker comparisons to Arnold Schwarzenegger, however, and not without merit. He’s a 3-time Mr. Universe whose Russian accent encumbers his clunky delivery of action dialogue (“That man’s an animal.” “That makes me the Zoo-Keeper.”). His acting isn’t good, but neither was that of the aforementioned mega-stars when they arrived on the scene, so no demerits recorded for that slight. His fighting coordination isn’t all that great, but he’s such a monolith of masculinity that it also doesn’t count against him that much. In a clever move, the film even establishes that, as a career Guy in the Chair, he has no field experience. “He’s never been in a fight” is a great way to cover the fact that your lead can’t fight on film. Pretty slick, MAXIMUM IMPACT. Or, as I like to call it, DOUBLE MAXIMUM IMPACT RISK.
The cast of this movie is stacked, and I was surprised who my favorites turned out to be. Eric Roberts (THE DARK KNIGHT, a shit-ton of music videos, every movie ever since 1983) is the MacGuffin of the film: the United States Secretary of State and essentially the guy everyone is shooting at. On his security detail we find Tom Arnold (TRUE LIES, pretending to love Rosanne), Kelly Hu (X-MEN 2, THE SCORPION KING), Keith Powers (STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON), Bai Ling (THE CROW, CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE), and a delightful comic performance from Alphonso McAuley (GLORY ROAD, TV’s “The Middle”). The Russian FBS team of Nevksy and Stychkin is complemented by their put-upon Colonel, portrayed by Maksim Vitorgan, who delivers some of the finest comic relief for the frosty Ruskies, despite wearing one face and touting only one tone.
For villains, we have the real cream of the crop: The Chairman, himself, Mark Dacascos (BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF, upcoming JOHN WICK sequel) stars as Tony Lin, the star of a bygone German action show, “Shaolin Cop”, turned international terrorist. He chews through the scenery in such a festive manner, pulling the teeth from this film as necessity demands; it really works best if you look to MAXIMUM IMPACT for fun over, say, impact. He is aided in his nefarious pursuits by an unnamed second-in-command (apparently he was named “Ian”?) portrayed joyously by Matthias Hues; their chemistry on screen is something I haven’t seen since Hans Gruber and Karl, only a tad lighter. This dynamic duo has henchmen, to be sure, but it’s their mutual love of villainy and passion for flair that’ll keep you riveted to their exploits. They report to a money-obsessed Man in the Shadows, which is really just William Baldwin (SLIVER, BACKDRAFT) doing his best Alec Baldwin impression. As he appears chiefly as an avatar, his threats plummet to the floor like sandbags and he offers very little to the story. Except perhaps a sequel??
There’s also some stuff about the Secretary’s granddaughter and a Russian pop star and a paparazzi photographer, but I think we’ve got enough going on thus far, right?
The film is worth seeing for Stychkin and Dacascos, alone, and add to those two the few comic diamonds thrown about by McAuley and Arnold and you’ve got yourself a pretty fun little ride. There are car chases and shootouts and lots of fisticuffs, but what really redeems the film is its ability to see itself for what it is: an International Action-Comedy meant as a Nevsky vehicle. He’s the driver, and everyone else comprises the shiny metal dick around him. But let’s be honest: our society sells vehicles, not drivers. So get in Sports Car!
So, to make a long story long, I actually liked DOUBLE MAXIMUM IMPACT RISK. I feel it pairs nicely with KNOCK-OFF, HERCULES GOES BANANAS, most of The Cannon Group’s films, whiskey, imitation crab snack sticks, and depression. If they make a sequel, you can be assured that I will check it out, if only in hopes to see Stychkin return.
Well, the power has been restored, and the spirit of MAXIMUM IMPACT has left my television. I return you to your regularly scheduled programming. Goodbye, horses!