It's June 30, 1997 in Hong Kong: the day the British hand over control to the Chinese. Marcus Ray (Jean Claude Van Damme) is a fashion designer who specialises in selling "knock off" (counterfeit) jeans. His partner in crime, Tommy Hendricks (Rob Schneider), is an undercover C.I.A. agent. So is Karan Leigh (Lela Rochon), a tough-talker pretending to investigate, but is in fact tracking down a mole (Paul Sorvino). They plan to hold the world hostage by threatening to explode tiny bombs implanted in the studs of every pair of knock off jeans across the globe. Ray and Hong Kong cop (Michael Wong) set off to bring the villain down.
"It always amazes this critic how it is that these films ever get the green light. Doesn't anyone actually read these scripts, or are those responsible completely illiterate?. It's appropriate that this film is called 'Knock Off', which means counterfeit or fake. It might also mean rip off, for this is simply a generic action film, with the usual doses of explosions, punch ups, inane dialogue, nondescript characters and bad acting that one gets in any number of these infantile, repetitive and uninspiring films. To be fair, Knock Off is not as dull as van Damme's previous Legionnaire, but only by a whisker. This Belgian simply proves that he can't act, that he's the wooden muscles from Brussels, who takes himself too seriously. The film is also full of technical errors that one can only assume that it 'knocked off' in a desperate hurry. With its furious editing style that does nothing but hide the film's script anomalies, this film makes no sense and attempts no reason or logic in the process. Van Damme fans may flock to see their muscular hero in action, but they, too, may be tired by a plot and film that insults the intelligence of its core audience. Knock Off is simply tedious and unashamedly inept in its craftsmanship. As for Van Damme, the sooner HE'S knocked off, the better we'll all be."
"After churning out a slew of solid, entertaining actioners like Time Cop, Hard Target and Sudden Death, Jean-Claude Van Damme's box-office fortunes of late appear to have taken a turn for the worse. Coming hard on the heels of the appalling Legionnaire is the marginally better Knock Off, which reunites the Muscles from Brussels with his Double Team director Tsui Hark, a John Woo protege best known for his classic Peking Opera Blues. Aided and abetted by a competent Chinese crew, director Hark has opted for the full Jackie Chan route here, throwing caution (and anything resembling character and plot development) to the wind in favour of an endless farrago of frenetic but undisciplined fight sequences which are numbing in their familiarity and repetition. Clearly Van Damme has lost sight of his origins and his target audience, and one can only hope his recently completed film, Inferno, under John Avildsen's direction, goes some way towards returning him to form."
"The standard formula for action movies has been chewed up and spat out so many times that it is no longer so much of a formula, but rather a drab collection of cliches. Enter Knock Off, a film that follows this practice so precisely it's scary. Writer Steven De Souza gave Beverly Hills Cop III charm and excitement, but none of that is on show here. Knock Off bumbles and fumbles its way through a messy plot, advancing from each dreary subplot to the next with no hint of a coherent storyboard. It's almost as if director Hark Tsui's plan was to baffle viewers so he could disguise the film's paper-thin scripting. Granted, there is some nice camera work and editing (especially in the first half) but they do not come close to salvaging this mediocre action fare. Even Jean Claude Van Dame - a bad-movie veteran - should know better than this."
Luke Buckmaster, Teen Critic
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KNOCK OFF (MA)
CAST: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Rob Schneider, Lela Rochon, Michael Wong, Paul Sorvino
DIRECTOR: Hark Tsui
SCRIPT: Steven E. De Souza
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Arthur Wong
EDITOR: Annellie Samuel
MUSIC: Ron Mael, Russell Mae
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 18, 1999