Clone of the Die Hards
As a movie reviewer I sometimes find myself in a quandary how to judge a movie, do I judge it against other movies within the genre or do I judge it compared to the lead actors other movies. "Sudden Death" left me in that quandary because when judged against other movies the obvious thing is that it is an inferior "Die Hard" clone and a corny one at that but when judged against Jean-Claude Van Damme's other movies it is entertaining and a lot of fun because it is a corny "Die Hard" clone. I suppose what that means is for fans of Jean-Claude Van Damme "Sudden Death" is a lot of fun mixing action with humour with a familiar storyline but for those just into action it will be a corny "Die Hard" wannabe which may disappoint.
After an incident during a call out leaves fireman Darren McCord (Jean-Claude Van Damme - Street Fighter) suspended he takes a job as a Fire Marshal at the Pittsburgh Penguins and persuades his ex-wife to allow him to take their children to the big game. Unfortunately for Darren a bunch of terrorists lead by Joshua Foss (Powers Boothe - Tombstone) have targeted the stadium and that game as the Vice President is in attendance and unless a huge amount of money is transferred to some off-shore accounts Foss is going to blow the stadium and everyone in it up. With no help from the outside Darren must go one man commando and not only try and defuse the explosives but make sure his children and the Vice-President are safe at the same time.
So as already mentioned "Sudden Death" is another one of those "Die Hard" clones which sporadically popped up during the 90s and as a clone it almost feels like a spoof. Before we get to that side the actual storyline plays out in a predictable manner as Darren ends up going one man hero to try and save the day. There is maybe one twist thrown in to make it feel a little different but in truth it follows the "Die Hard" formula incredibly closely as Darren runs around the stadium tunnels, talks over the phone with Joshua and takes down various bad guys he comes across.
But as I said it feels at times that "Sudden Death" borders on being spoof like which is down to a lot of corny humour. Where do I start, well there is what sounds like a typical fight scene in a kitchen where faces get close to hot plates and slicers except the person Darren is fighting is dressed in the over sized and padded mascot costume which makes for numerous comical moments. Then there is the "MacGyver" elements as Darren uses various things he finds to make some adhoc weapons which one to be honest is quite nifty. But none of that compares to some bad lines about guys being iced and what happens to the main bad guy in a helicopter.
As to the main bad guy Powers Boothe as Joshua Foss, well Boothe is no Alan Rickman and Boothe's Joshua is not the most frightening or sinister of bad guys you will ever see which may be down to the tuxedo. And then of course there is Jean-Claude Van Damme as Darren and what can I say, it is an entertaining display from the muscle from Brussels, he delivers some comically entertaining action and some corny lines but he makes you smile.
What this all boils down to is that compared to other movies generally "Sudden Death" is a corny "Die Hard" clone which will probably make you groan but as a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie it is a lot of fun with some nice action and the corny elements making you smile. And as a Jean-Claude Van Damme fan I enjoyed it and would watch it again as much for what is corny as for what is good about it.