ManlyMovie pays reference to Die Hard a lot. Good reason for that, no explanation needed. In the 90’s, they even had a term for movies like this, they called them ‘Die Hard Clones’. I haven’t heard that in a while, probably because they don’t make movies like Die Hard anymore, or even try to. Sudden Death is Van Dame’s own ‘Die Hard’. Even Seagal had one, but his was on a hijacked destroyer as opposed to a hijacked hockey arena. This film is one of the final movies of what I like to see as the golden era of ballsy action (Early 80’s to mid 90’s). Unfortunately one of JCVD’s last good films too. If action movies were collectors items, then even though this may not be the best action movie ever, it would be more sought after for being one of the last.
Peter Hyams made this film. The guy shouldn’t need an introduction by now. Is he McTiernan or Cameron? Nah, not on that level. But he’s a pro, and here he’s given a Die Hard send up as a tool. Its like something as reliable as a sledgehammer being given to someone who can use it with pinpoint accuracy. Then there’s Van Damme. He’s solid in this movie, but not on top form. No fault of his own though, they seemed to hold back on using him. He’s about in his prime here, which is kinda fucking depressing because if he didn’t his big contract negotiation (Ego) and fucked it all up, we should have seen him do this right to 2000 and beyond. But the demise of his meal-ticket genre in general is also to blame for that. Powers Boothe, we meet again. He’s here to do the Alan Rickman thing. And hey, that’s perfect for him, this is no second-rate ripoff. I’m positive he would have had a good chance for the original 1988 role. And you know what? I like watching him just as much as the good guy. That’s how you sell a villain.
This is kind of a restrained movie in terms of action. Van Damme is never quite in fifth gear or overly intense, though he does put in a relatively good acting performance. I think they were going for thriller more than action, a poor decision. I expected more from Van Damme’s fight scenes, but they’re still better than a lot of movies. But don’t worry, the old 80s/90s DNA is definitely here. E.g. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many Uzi’s in one movie than I have in this one – and the villain’s seem to love firing them. This is one of those movies where shooting a man once, or even 5 times isn’t enough. He has to be shot 15-20 times, and usually shirts will explode with a garden full of squibs. I fuckin’ love that, no CGI here.
Its not Van Damme’s best, but in hindsight, my appreciation for Sudden Death has only gone up.