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Film / Wake of Death

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Wake of Death is a 2004 action film originally directed by Ringo Lam, until Philip Martinez took over directorial duties, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Simon Yam on opposing sides.

Ben Archer (Van Damme), an ex-mob enforcer, has decided to settle down after getting married. Ben's wife, Cynthia Archer, is an INS worker who took in a little Chinese girl named Kim, rescued from a human trafficking ship during a police raid, into becoming part of their family; but Kim's biological father Sun Quan (Simon) who leads a ruthless triad gang finds out about Kim's disappearance, and immediately send out his assassins after the Archers.

This is notably the closest Van Damme would get into the Heroic Bloodshed genre, ever since Hard Target 11 years earlier. Expect plenty of shootouts that would make John Woo proud.


Contain Examples of:

  • Badass Longcoat: Ben wears a black longcoat in most scenes where he's kicking ass.
  • Band of Brothels: Ben managed to target one of Sun Quan's henchmen, Wang, by tracking him down in a brothel Wang frequents, to capture him alive for interrogation.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Ben's wife Cynthia, and also Cynthia's brother Max, both of them whom are white but raised by Chinese-Americans.
  • Chiaroscuro: Used in more than one scene, notably the night following the restaurant massacre, after Ben realize he's all the children had left and must take matters in his own hands.
  • Cool Shades: Worn by Ben and most of Sun Quan's underlings in various shootout scenes.
  • Defiant to the End: When Ben is about to kill Andy Wang, Ben tells him that it's for his wife. Wang responds with a simple "Fuck you."
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  • Dirty Cop: Hoggins, Cynthia's colleague in the INS, is actually an informant working for Sun Quan and the triads.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: A few of Sun Quan's mobsters are Caucasian, possibly recruited from the slums or are members of another unrelated allied LA gang.
  • Eye Scream: When Raymond and Max torture Hoggins and force him to confess his involvement with Sun Quan, they drill into his eye. This ends up killing him.
  • Family Extermination: Sun Quan orders this on the Archers, killing Cynthia's adoptive parents, brother, personally killing Cynthia for interfering with his trafficking business, and barely succeeding in killing the kids if not for Ben's timely arrival.
  • Finishing Stomp: Ben executes a triad after subduing him in a motorcycle chase by stomping his face in.
  • Groin Attack: Ben's partner, Tony, managed to take down one of Sun Quan's personal guards by stabbing his nuts.
  • Guns Akimbo: Ben uses dual guns in the final shootout, expectedly given the film's Heroic Bloodshed influences.
  • Happily Adopted: Ben's wife, Cynthia, who is an orphan, a white girl adopted by a Chinese-American family. Kim after being rescued ends up happily becoming a member of the Archer family as well.
  • Human Traffickers: The triad organization led by Sun Quan partakes in trafficking of immigrants, using refugees from rural villages to smuggle their drug supplies.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Played straight with both Kim and Nicholas surviving the film.
  • Mexican Standoff: The final showdown between Sun Quan and Ben, with Sun holding Ben's son Nicholas as a hostage. Both fired their guns at each other at the same time, but only Ben emerged alive.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Cynthia Archer adopts the homeless orphan, Kim, taking the child back home and giving Kim shelter, and then introducing Kim to her adoptive parents in a family reunion lunch. For her efforts, she ends up having her reunion interrupted by Sun Quan, Kim's father and leader of a ruthless mob, who then murders her adoptive parents, kills her and tries to have her son Nicholas and surrogate daughter Kim executed.
  • Offing the Offspring: Sun Quan travels all the way from Hong Kong to Los Angeles with the intention of hunting down his escaped daughter, Kim, and silence her before she can reveal his trafficking and drug smuggling activities to the relevant authorities.
  • Pistol-Whipping: The last henchman in the docks finale gets whipped to death by Ben's pistol.
  • Railing Kill: In the brothel shootout, Ben sends a mook falling to his death after flipping him over a railing.
  • Slashed Throat: In the flashback, Sun Quan kills his mistress using this method, while Kim watches silently while hiding behind a shelf. He also kills Cynthia in this manner.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: They are the main villains of the picture, led by their boss Sun Quan, and are also in charge of a human trafficking and drug smuggling syndicate.