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Film / Maximum Risk

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Maximum Risk is a 1996 action film, directed by Ringo Lam and starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Natasha Henstridge. It follows the French detective Alain Moreau (Van Damme) as he becomes entangled in an international conspiracy embracing Russian gangsters and corrupt American officials, with various parties after his life because of his uncanny resemblance to a dead agent. His only ally appears to be his doppelganger's girlfriend, Alex Bartlett (Henstridge).


  • Action Hero: Alain is the traditional 80s action hero, who takes on the villains with extreme force.
  • Agony of the Feet: The elevator fight scene have Red Face brutally pummeling Alain and giving him the thrashing of his life, until Alain managed to get hold of Red Face's dropped knife and shove it into his foot.
  • Backup Twin: The film starts with Alain learning that he had a twin, and starts investigating his death. Duality plays a big role in the film's visual language, more overtly with various reflective surfaces like windows and mirrors, and more gradually with Alain having to pretend to be his brother and taking on an increasingly bedraggled appearance reminiscent to how he looked like in the movie's opening to get to the bottom of his death.
  • Badass Driver: Pretty much the only legitimately cool thing about Agent Loomis as he manages to turn the tables on Alain during the climactic car chase scene. Brett the cabbie is this getting Alain and Alex away from the Mafia, only to die in Alain's arms.
  • Book Ends: The movie begins with crooked federal agents Pellman and Loomis chasing Mikhail through Nice. It ends with Mikhail's twin Alain chasing them through the same city.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The small newspaper article that Alain's mother kept featuring him receiving a medal for his military service turns up later in Mikhail's New York home, as stumbling upon it was crucial to his Heel Realization.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Ivan and Red Face.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: A nicely vicious one. The confined space really does not lend itself to Mr Van Damme's usual fighting style.
  • Epic Fail: When Agent Pellman tries to take Alex hostage, he fails to unholster his gun properly as he tries to grab her at the same time, allowing Alain time to take him down.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: Mikhail Suvorov. In Russia, "Suvorov" would bring to mind Alexander Suvorov, one of the most famous military commanders in Russian history, for whom a bunch of other things (from battleships to cadet schools) are named. It may also recall Victor Suvorov, the famous Pen Name of Soviet defector and military historian V. B. Rezun (who picked his own pseudonym from the Suvorov military school he attended).
  • Fruit Cart: This counts, at least as a play on the trope: Jean-Claude Van Damme is in a chase scene where he's driving a fruit cart. It is, of course, destroyed at the end.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: After chancing upon a newspaper article featuring Alain, Mikhail was forced to reflect on how he turned out to be a criminal while his brother wound up being a noble cop and a celebrated war hero. This prompted his plan to leave the mob to both make amends for all the bad things he did for it and to reconnect with his family. Tragically, the film opens with the fallout from his actions.
  • Identical Stranger: The mysterious murder victim, who looks just like Alain. It turns out to be his twin brother, who grew up elsewhere and became a member of the post-Soviet mob. Alain then being mistaken for him by his old associates plays a major part in the plot.
  • The Mafiya: A post-Soviet mob that Alain's doppelganger was involved with are the main antagonists.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Dimitry Suvorov, Mikhail's foster father and the head of the Russian Mob, is this. After Alain tells him about Ivan trying to kill Mikhail, he tells Ivan Get Out! and has a sitdown with Alain.
  • Separated at Birth: One of the twins dies before the start of the movie but not before finding out all about his long lost brother, and forcing the brother to pose as him to uncover who killed him.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Davis Hartley is a cab driver who Alain befriends when he arrives in New York. While a chatterbox with delusions of being a novelist, he’s consistently helpful in bailing Alain out of trouble and dies roughly halfway through the film after getting him and Alex away from Ivan.
  • Slaughterhouse Fight: Alain finds himself in such situation, as he is chased by a chainsaw wielding bad guy.