Knock Off doesn't know what it wants to be. That is the first problem it has. It also pairs Jean-Claude Van Damme up with Rob Schneider. That is the second problem. The fact that the action sequences aren't all that good doesn't help either.
Here's the plot. In fact, no. The plot is so cringe-inducing and risible that I can't bring myself to detail it here. Let's just say that Schneider and Van Damme run a business that sell knock off jeans and they get involved in a scheme that involves the CIA, murder, treachery, and dangerous jeans that have been laced with powerful explosives. Yes, this is a film based around exploding jeans.
Director Tsui Hark obviously thought that he could put things together in a way that would recreate the messy fun of Double Team but he ends up misfiring. There's one pretty good action sequence at about the halfway mark, the rest of the film is a damp squib. Visually ugly, never as amusing as it thinks it is, and lacking any character that you could care for.
Writer Steven E. de Souza should take a large portion of the blame. His script is consistently awful from start to finish. Not only does it lack decent dialogue and characterisation, it devolves into an utter mess after the first 20 minutes or so. It's hard to believe that this is penned by the man who gave us so many other modern action classics.
Van Damme flashes his smile here but it feels, in line with the film, lazy and insincere. He's selling a screen presence that isn't there, sadly. As for Schneider, I won't automatically dismiss him from movies because I don't mind him in the right role. This isn't the right role. Nobody here is in a role that feels right for them, not even Paul Sorvino as a stern CIA agent, and that's the kind of thing that Sorvino could probably do in his sleep. Wyman Wong does okay with his small role, and Lela Rochon tries her best, but this is not a film designed to showcase the talents of the actors involved.
If you want to see one action movie about exploding jeans then I can heartily recommend this as being the film for you. Otherwise, avoid it at all costs. It's STILL not the worst film in the Van Damme filmography (that one is still to come, from the many I have already seen) but it's definitely a contender.
You can buy the movie here.
Americans can pick up this pack.