“Sudden Death” is death all right. But at nearly two hours, it is hardly sudden.
A soulless exploitation flick, it tells the tale of a lone good man who is forced to take on an elite group of terrorists.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one.
These terrorists kidnap the vice president at a packed sports arena during the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals because … Well, frankly, I was never 100 percent clear about why these particular terrorists selected this particular location for this particular kidnapping.
Perhaps they are hockey fans.
The script is by Gene Quintano, whose resume includes the dopey “Cop and a Half” and two of the later “Police Academy” pictures. Director Peter Hyams (“Timecop,” “2010”) has been quoted as saying, “When I first read the script, I was struck by the fact that there was a chance to make a truly exciting movie that wasn’t stupid, but intriguing.”
Guess he missed his chance.
Jean-Claude Van Damme plays the hero, a fire marshal who just happens to be at the arena on the night in question. Powers Boothe plays the terrorist leader and Raymond J. Barry is the veep, with Ross Malinger and Whittni Wright cast as the hero’s kids.
Ludicrous as this movie is, I can only assume it will please many Van Damme fans. It’s certainly violent enough - although most of the action scenes appear to have been staged in such a way as to destroy any coherent sense of motion.
A lot of the fighting takes place in the stadium’s kitchen, so there are scenes of people being pushed toward fryers and meat slicers, etc. As these things go, the movie’s most effective image comes near the end, when a helicopter crashes into the hockey rink.
At that point in “Sudden Death,” you know how that must feel.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: “Sudden Death” Location: Lincoln Heights, North Division and Coeur d’Alene cinemas Credits: Directed by Peter Hyams; starring Jean Claude Van Damme, Powers Boothe, Raymond J. Barry, Ross Malinger and Whittni Wright Running time: 1:40 Rating: R