More To Say #40: Sudden Death

Sudden Death is a 1995 American action film directed by Peter Hyams, and starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Powers Boothe, and Dorian Harewood. The film was released in the United States on December 22, 1995. Set in a hockey arena, the film was written by Gene Quintano, based on a story by Karen Elise Baldwin, the wife of Pittsburgh Penguins owner Howard Baldwin, who was a co-producer. It was the second collaboration between Van Damme and Hyams, after Timecop (1994).

The film was a box office disappointment in the United States, grossing less than $20.4 million at the box office on a $35 million budget. However, the film was a huge success internationally, particularly in Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom, making $68 million worldwide. In other countries, it made close to $50 million in profit with video sales. It received mixed to negative reviews at the time of its release, although retrospective reviews have been more positive and it is seen by many as one of Van Damme’s best.

Your first thought while watch this is “oh, wow, another Die Hard clone” and…..yeah…..it is but it’s one of the better Die Hard clones if there’s any consolation to this. But then again, this is one of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s best, if not the absolute best, movie from him.

Then again, maybe I have a soft spot for this because I’m from nearby Pittsburgh and this is filmed at the Civic Arena, the then home of the Pittsburgh Penguins, it’s since been gone and replaced with the Consol Energy Center (or now PPG Paints Arena) but still, to see something like this take place at a familiar area I’m aware of, maybe that’s why I like this movie so much.

One of the funniest things about this movie in the production stages, it was actually suppose to be a comedy of all things. Proof of that is in the movie as the scene where Van Damme is fighting the Pittsburgh Penguins mascot, that was in the original comedic script for this but was kept in the final cut of the movie. Ridiculous but still pretty damn entertaining.

There’s no point in criticizing the story because it’s an obvious Die Hard clone except it takes place in a sports arena, there’s definitely inspiration from 70s movies like this, Two Minute Warning and Black Sunday, in this.

I will say the action scenes in this are spectacular to look at, just look at some of these scenes:

I mean, the effort is obviously put into these action scenes and I’ll give John Debney some credit, he does a pretty good Michael Kamen-esque Die Hard score here.

Sudden Death is not a great movie but it is a fun as hell action film and one of the best Die Hard clones out there and arguably the best Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, great action, nicely done effects, an interesting approach to a then cliché concept, it’s still fun to watch even after all these years.

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