Picks and Pans Review: Knockoff

updated 09/21/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/21/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Jean-Claude Van Damme

Van Damme, in a recent interview with ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, confessed that his career of late had come unstrung because of cocaine abuse. Given the quality of this latest action picture—and his screen presence, which consists of not much more than a pair of biceps accompanied by a loud voice—his confession could be viewed as a preemptive apology to audiences.

Van Damme and onetime Saturday Night Live regular Rob Schneider play bottom-of-the-rung blue-jeans exporters in Hong Kong on the eve of the British colony's transfer to Communist China. The two are unwittingly drawn into a terrorist plot involving remote-controlled, button-size bombs concealed in products shipped out to the rest of the world. (The movie opens with the odd sight of a shipment of dolls exploding at sea.) Van Damme runs, rolls and kick-boxes his way out of one scrape after another, but these scenes are almost all indifferently staged and paced. You could probably hold a grade-school spelling bee with greater suspense. (R)—T.G.

Bottom Line: Knock it right off your list

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