Action / Crime / Thriller
Action / Crime / Thriller
Some terrorists kidnap the Vice President of the United States and threaten to blow up the entire stadium during the final game of the NHL Stanley Cup. There is only one way and one man to stop them...
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July 21, 2018 at 04:18 PM
One of the best "Die Hard" clones
After the success of "Die Hard" there have been many movie clones of that great action film. There was "Die Hard on a Ship" ("Under Siege"), "Die Hard on a Train" ("Under Siege 2"), and "Die Hard on a Bus" ("Speed"), just to name a few. "Sudden Death" can be described as either "Die Hard on the Ice", "Die Hard at a Hockey Game" or "Die Hard in an Arena". You pick. Technically you could put all three titles into this movie and it'll still be pretty much the same thing. However, "Sudden Death" is one of the better "Die Hard" clones. It's an exciting movie about terrorists taking over the Pittsburgh Civic Arena where the decisive seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks is being played. However there's a little difference here. The only people who know that hostages have taken over are the people in the VIP box (which includes the Vice President), the Secret Service men outside the arena, and an arena fire marshall who's two little kids are attending the game. The 17,000-plus fans attending the game have no idea whats really going on. That fire marshall is played by Belgian action star Jean-Claude Van Damme. I've not been a big fan of Van Damme's films, but "Sudden Death" is easily his best movie to date. Van Damme plays Darren McCord, the fire marshall who finds out something's wrong when his little daughter is taken to the VIP box as a hostage after witnessing a killing. When McCord finds out what's going on, he does precisely what Bruce Willis did in "Die Hard", takes on the terrorists all by himself. The lead bad guy is portrayed by Powers Boothe in a frightening performance. He may not be quite as effective as Alan Rickman's villain in "Die Hard", but Boothe does a good job at being mean. Van Damme is also very good too (especially in one scene where he poses as the Penguins goalie to hide out from the bad guys who were chasing him). He's much better here than he was in "Timecop", teaming again with "Timecop" director Peter Hyams. The action scenes are splendid (both the gunplay and the action during the game), and the suspense has you on the edge. "Sudden Death" has a few silly moments here and there, but since this movie is such a good thrill ride, you won't care. This movie deserved to be a big hit at the box office and wasn't. I'll never understand why.
***1/2 (out of four)
A fairly decent thriller that doesn't try to get cute.
I may be one of those movie buffs who's at least willing to confess that they're not a huge admirer or fan of a certain actor or director. Jean-Claude Van Damme would be near the top of my list of actors that I only admire although I've seen a few films where he has his name is on the poster.
"Sudden Death" is the second film that Van Damme has starred in with photographer/director Peter Hyams ("End of Days", "Timecop") is at the helm.
This film was based on an actual story by Karen Baldwin and is adapted into the story by Gene Quintano.
The movie takes place at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena in Pittsburgh where the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penquins are about to take the ice for the last game of the Stanley Cup finals. Van Damme's character, Darren McCord, takes his son and daughter to the game. As usual, the arena is packed with fans and the Vice President of the U.S. has come to see the game as well. Unfortunately, Joshua Foss (Powers Boothe), a demented terrorist and a small band of terrorists take control of the Owner's box where the V.P. and several people. Foss demands that he wants a billion dollars and how he wants to use it puzzles me. However, at the end of each period, if his demand isn't met, Foss shoots someone and if the deal isn't done at the end of the game. The arena is blown sky high with several explosives that are set all over the arena.
Boothe is good here and he makes the threat very real, which is key to making any thriller. He also shows some wit and in one particular scene, the Vice President curiously asks Foss "What kind of lunatic are you?" Foss responds - "The best kind."
What draws McCord into the situation is when his daughter is taken up to the Owner's box. From there on, the movie manages to make the excitement to be interesting. One example would be the fight scenes that McCord has with a couple of thugs in the kitchen at two seperate times. Just about every prop is used from the meat slicer to the bone, which goes through one of the neck of a terrorist. Fun and yucky isn't it?
The last half of the film is just about entertaining as the first half is. I'm undecided if "Sudden Death" would make the best thriller that involves a sports event and terrorists since John Frankenheimer's "Black Sunday". Van Damme and Boothe are both good here.
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Powers Gives Boost To Film
I found this to be a very interesting action with with Powers Boothe fun to watch as the main villain, thanks to his dialog and no-nonsense approach. At least he wasn't one of those talk-first, shoot-maybe-later clichés from the world of film. The hockey scenes in here are realistic, too. However, the rest of the film doesn't exactly exhibit realism: lots of hokey stuff in here, too. At the end, the action really gets carried away and brings the rating down on this to a manageable "7." Otherwise, it would be a minimum of "8" just for the entertainment value alone.
After a slow start, it picks up when Boothe enters the movie. Then it never lets up. If you want a pure hour of action, this is it. There is no female lead in this movie, so you get no romance nor gratuitous sex scenes, which is a bit unusual. It's a straight crime story.
One note: unless things have been changed, I was disappointed my DVD did not offer a widescreen version.