Wake of Death (2004) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The usual revenge picture.

Jean-Claude Van Damme's wife is a beautiful, sensitive social worker who takes in a 14 year old female refugee from Hong Kong. It turns out that the girl is the daughter of the number one Mr. Big of the Asian heroin syndicate, and he wants her back. His concept of winning her back is to blast away everyone around her, and he makes the rather unwise decision to include Van Damme's wife on his blast list. JCVD then turns into a combination of Charles Bronson and Kyser Sose, and proceeds single-handedly to kill more Asian guys than that recent tsunami.

This freakin' movie doesn't even make sense in some spots. JC takes the little girl with him to her dad's freighter for the final confrontation. When he gets out of his car, he also makes the girl get out. He then leaves her standing there on the freight docks in the middle of the night, and says "If I'm not back in 20 minutes, call the police."  OK let's analyze that. She's a 14 year old girl from China who has been in America for a day and a half. How, exactly, will she call the police?

  • She's stuck on the docks, on foot, in the middle of the night

  • She doesn't have a cell phone.

  • There are no pay phones anywhere in site.

  • She doesn't have any money for a pay phone anyway.

  • If she had a cell phone, how would she know which number to dial?

  • If she could figure out how to contact the police, how would she give them directions to her location?

  • In the unlikely event she could find the police and figure out where she was, what could she tell them to get anybody there quickly? "Oh, some Belgian guy told me to call you if he wasn't back in 20 minutes."

  • Why did JC make her get out of the car to do that?

  • Why the hell wait 20 minutes? Why doesn't he personally just call the police now, by himself? Is there any reason not to?

  • Why didn't he just leave the girl in an all-night Denny's with a few bucks and some comic books, where she would have been safe and warm?

Despite the fact that JC's back-up depends on the ability of a 14 year old foreign girl to navigate the intricacies of American bureaucracy, everything turns out all right. Just as he's in the last battle, about fifteen police vehicles come in, lights flashing and sirens howling, and a few zillion S.W.A.T guys come pouring onto the bad guy's boat.

That was only the last of many such bizarre episodes. At one point the baddies kidnap the girl and JC's own son. So what does our high-kickin' hero do? He follows them in a high-speed car chase through the streets and highways, bumping his car into theirs at 100 MPH and exchanging gunfire with them - with both cars traveling at top speed and the kids in the other car.

I'll admit it would have been cool if he had blown away his own son in the process, or maybe if he had forced the baddies into a fiery crash which killed both kids. Unfortunately, this is not some kind of existentialist film about measuring the consequences of one's actions, but just a sloppy action film.

And while I'm ranting, what is the deal with screen candles. How can it be that whenever movie lovers take a bath or make love, they are surrounded by candles? JCVD comes home after a hard day of whatever the hell he does, and his wife brings home the little girl from her day of social working. They tuck in the youngster and retire to their boudoir for hot monkey love, surrounded by hundreds of candles. More candles than you'll see on Easter Day in St. Patrick's Cathedral. Who the hell lit those things? And who put them all out so they could get some sleep after making an appropriate amount of cinematic whoopee? Do rich people and film characters employ off-duty altar boys for candle duty? I'll bet they have one of those long-handled candle snuffers that you see in Catholic services. You know, the kind the altar boys use for the candles way above their reach. Say ... if I had one of those, I could snuff all my many romantic candles without getting out of bed. Man, I gotta get me one of those!

Right after I buy the candles.

Oh well.

Amazingly enough, this film, although lacking in original ideas and common sense, does have some big production values. There are plenty of  crashes and massive explosions. There is a good car chase that has some inventive touches (despite the illogic I mentioned above), and a spectacular motorcycle chase through a suburban shopping mall. The rumor is that this film had a production budget of $20 million. That might be, because it has a pretty big "look" to it, but I really want to know the names of any guys willing to invest twenty million dollars on a script like this with Van Damme starring.


  • Joon Chong - breasts and pubes
  • Lisa King - breasts (dark, she's on her back)
  • one unidentified actress with bare breasts in a brothel raid, another with partially uncovered buns
  • Buns from Jean-Claude Van Damme

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen letterboxed.

  • fairly good transfer, but is it is a very dark movie.

I have some nice Florida property those guys might like. And some scripts that would be perfect for Andrew McCarthy and Judd Nelson.

Needless to say, the investors got no theatrical release for their twenty million dollar investment, and I don't think they should count on a lot of DVD sales, given the fact that nobody ever heard of this film.

Various notes and sidebars:

  • I don't think IMDb has the right info for Lisa King. She plays Van Damme's wife. The filmography lists this as her only film. Given that she is 35ish, very attractive, and a completely solid actress, I can't believe she has no previous experience of any kind. Something doesn't add up.

  • The film includes a bizarrely inventive and graphically bloody torture scene in which two Mafiosi extract a confession from a dirty cop by power drilling into some very sensitive areas of his body. When they find out what they need to know, they finish him off by drilling through his eye into his brain. Good family fun!

  • The crooked cop being tortured is played by an actor named Danny Keogh. IMDb says he is the drummer who was once married to Lisa Marie Presley, and was therefore Elvis's son-in-law for a while. I don't think so. For one thing, that Elvis guy is Danny Keough with a "u."  For another thing, that guy was a nice looking guy, and this Danny is not a handsome man, to say the least. Let's just say in a world of people who look like Danny on average, Timothy Spall would be People's Sexiest Man of the Year.

The guy in the film might be this Danny Keogh


The guy pictured on that page an African actor of Irish descent, and that might be the guy in this movie. I can't tell for sure because the picture on that page majorly sucks. But whoever the actor really is, I don't think the battered, wrinkled cop in Wake of Death could be the former rock star who is also the father of model Riley Keough.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C-. If you want a logical, sensible film with solid, human, character development, this ain't it. If you want some lurid sex and violence and a little Van Damme action, this might get you through an idle evening. It isn't as bad as I expected.

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