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Sudden Death

movie reviewmovie review out of 4

*Also starring: Raymond J. Barry, Whittni Wright, Ross Malinger, Dorian Harewood, Kate McNeil, Michael Gaston, Audra Lindley

Review by Dragan Antulov
2 stars out of 4

These days people are probably watching DIE HARD very differently from times before 2001 terrorist attacks. Entire perception of terrorism and individual's ability to prevent evildoers have changed, so DIE HARD and many of its clones represent somewhat surreal viewing experience. However, the word "surreal" could have been attributed to some DIE HARD clones even before 2001 tragedy. SUDDEN DEATH, 1995 action film directed by Peter Hyams, is one of such examples.

Protagonist of the film is Darren McCord (played by Jean-Claude Van Damme), former fireman who was forced to quit his job because of the divorce and other psychological traumas. McCord now works as Pittsburgh fire inspector and he has pulled few strings to supervise Pittsburgh Civic Center on the very same night when Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Blackhawks play Game 7 of Stanley Cup final. This is the ideal opportunity to bring his two children to the game. Unfortunately, the event is also attended by the group of terrorists who manage to kidnap US Vice President (played by Raymond J. Barry). Joshua Foss (played by Powers Boothe), the leader of terrorists, wants to blackmail US government and threatens not only to kill Vice President but also to blow up the Center and kill 17,000 people. Darren McCord happens to be the only man who could foil terrorists' plans.

Although SUDDEN DEATH is not a comedy, the script by Gene Quintano leaves impression of not taking itself very seriously. The plot is full of logic holes, implausibilities and downright absurdities and some scenes look like they came from an action movie parody. Director Peter Hyams, on the other hand, didn't look particularly worried over film's genre ambiguity. He was instead more concerned with the look of the movie, which is at times very impressive - Pittsburgh exteriors and quasi-documentary hockey footage give some semblance of realism to the picture. The action scenes are directed with great skill and are real fun to watch. Jean-Claude Van Damme is not the world's greatest actor, but he functions very well in the context of this film. Same could be said for experienced character actors like Barry, Boothe and Harewood, since their characters don't require much work. Because of that, SUDDEN DEATH works as entertaining mix of good action and unintended comedy, but the viewers won't enjoy it today as much as they did in 1995. Van Damme, Quintano, Hyams and people associated with this film aren't responsible for that, though.

Copyright 2003 Dragan Antulov

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