Ex-mob enforcer Ben Archer (Van Damme) is ready to give up his life of crime and settle down to family life. But when his wife, Cynthia, attempts to help a Chinese refugee girl and brings her into their home, a new war is inadvertently triggered. Discovering his wife brutally murdered and their son missing without a trace, Ben joins forces with his old underworld friends once again, embarking on a bloody vendetta to punish the Chinese Triad gang responsible… A pulse-pounding, gritty revenge thriller packed with explosive action and starring action superstar Jean-Claude Van Damme, Simon Yam (Ip Man) and Philip Tan (Showdown in Little Tokyo), Wake of Death is essential, must-see JCVD!
When you see the name Van Damme on any cast list you kind of know that you’re going to be in for. An intense, over the top action packed ride and Wake of Death is exactly that. A story filled with raw emotion and heartbreak mixed with hatred and revenge which all makes for the perfect action flick.
The casting of Van Damme as Ben Archer, the retired mob enforcer looking for the quiet life only for the Triad to drag him back into the underworld once more, is perfect. When we first meet Archer he is planting a head butt on some trouble maker and instantly you get the feeling it’s going to be classic JCVD. Archer’s wife, Cynthia, tries to do the right thing by helping a Chinese refugee girl welcoming her into their home taking her on as their own all the while not knowing that the girl is the daughter of a Triad boss and the danger this has put everyone in.
The film takes a dark turn as the Triad catches up with Cynthia and she meets her messy end. For Archer to walk in and see the bloody remains of his wife, all that Archer can think about now is take revenge and retribution. Calling on his old friends to help him take the Triad gang out, this takes the film down a long dark path. The darker the film gets, the more we see the perfect, classic Van Damme we love. As Archer uses his force to take down the kidnappers resulting in some epic fight scenes with bullets and fists flying, although Van Damme is definitely the focal point he does it in a way that doesn’t outshine the others and take from the story.
As much as I am a fan of Van Damme films, they are often action led with little development in the way of story. But Wake of Death seems to have bucked that trend with a gripping and emotional story keeping you focused throughout with battles and breathtaking car chases. The final act is completely unexpected (no spoilers from me) grabbing me by the heartstrings as well as, of course, giving you that expected dose of action. It shows us that Van Damme is also a great actor not just a one trick pony.
A good action film in true JCVD fashion with plenty of emotion a definite must see for fans of Van Damme. For all it’s cheesiness I really enjoyed the film a good switch your brain off and relax type of film with a decent story to boot, in these times it’s just what we need.
Kaleidoscope Entertainment presents Wake of Death on Special Edition Blu-ray, DVD and Digital 5 April.
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