In case you're wondering if there are any actors who get worse with each progressive film instead of better here's one example: Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Granted, Van Damme's movies have never been thought-provoking, and the filmmakers he's worked with weren't trying to achieve great cinema. But there have been times where he's at least approximated acting competence (in 1993's "Hard Target" and 1994's "Timecop").
However, the obnoxiously loud and stupid "Knock Off" tries awfully hard to "surpass" even the worst of the Muscles from Brussels' early movies (such as 1989's "Cyborg"). And darned if it doesn't nearly succeed.
Incompetent in almost every aspect of filmmaking, "Knock Off" is so ludicrously over-the-top that it's hard to take seriously, even if you're a Van Damme devotee. And even they may be disappointed in this particularly unthrilling thriller.
Van Damme stars as Marcus Ray, a kung-fu fighting clothing counterfeiter who is attempting to go straight. However, his choice in allies is a bit questionable. Tommy Hendricks (Rob Schneider), his business partner, is actually an undercover CIA agent. And childhood pal Eddie Wang (Wyman Wong) has been secretly sneaking cheap "knock-off" clothing into their shipments.
As it turns out, Eddie is in cahoots with Russian mobsters, who are implanting miniaturized explosives in the counterfeit jeans bombs that can be detonated by remote control.
Aided by Tommy's real boss, CIA section chief Harry Johannson (Paul Sorvino), and a jeans company executive, Karen Leigh (Lela Rochon), Marcus attempts to destroy the deadly clothing before it is shipped to America.
Believe it or not, things get even more ridiculous from there, with a series of unsurprising character "revelations," poorly staged action sequences and computer-generated explosions that can't cover up how thin the material is.
To top it off, none of the cast members seem inspired in their acting or action performances. Worst of the lot are Van Damme, who doesn't even try this time around, and Sorvino, who out-hams Schneider (believe me, it's possible).
Actually, those who should be most embarrassed by this misfire are director Tsui Hark (a Hong Kong action film veteran) and screenwriter Steven de Souza ("Die Hard"), who have both made some good movies. But this isn't one of them.
"Knock Off' is rated R for violent gunplay and brutal martial-arts action, gore, profanity, vulgar gestures and use of vulgar slang, torture and brief male nudity.