Knock Off

Knock Off ★★★½

Knock Off is a fever dream full of strange choices.

It's a Hong Kong action movie. It's a big-budget Hollywood-style action flick, but with no budget. It's a spy thriller with ludicrous, Bond-style villains and schemes. It's bizarre and incoherent, lurching from good to weird to entertaining to terrible, back and forth. For every shot or scene that works, there are five that look like they're from a student film where the whole crew was high.

The entire movie is frenetic, from the pacing to the cinematography. It's like a film degree worth of stuff jammed into a single movie; if you can think of a camera technique, angle, or type of shot, it's in this bizarre spaghetti bowl.

The plot is lovable hot nonsense, which is great. But there are also odd bits like Schneider slapping Van Damme's ass with a live eel, or Rochon using sweat from her cleavage as wound salve, that give it a character all its own.

As a huge fan of JCVD's work in the '80s, this is not one of his best roles. The real star here is the majority of the stunt work, much of which wouldn't be out of place in Police Story -- real dangerous, low-tech stuff that's a blast to watch. It's too bad that some of that brilliance gets lost in the "fireworks show inside a phone booth" that is Knock Off -- but at the same time, weirdly, that's part of this movie's charm.

This was my 2,500th distinct movie watched (granted, my imperfect memory means I probably crossed that line some time ago -- but to the best of my recollection, this is it). I polled my friends for suggestions, and after checking that Rob Schneider doesn't do his usual racist shtick (he does not), this sounded perfect. Here's to the next 2,500!

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