in Movies

“Knock Off” (1998) Film Review


By: Richard Reitzfeld

Odds are you’ve never heard of Knock Off. I don’t blame you – the movie is nearly two decades old. However, I recently saw it for the first time and felt compelled to review it, as I was very much affected by it.

The film stars Rob Schneider and Jean-Claude Van Damme as two semi-bumbling fashion industry professionals… Or so we think.

In a non-sequiturial twist, it’s revealed that Rob Schneider is actually an agent for the CIA, who has been using JCVD in order to get closer to a fashion designer/knock-off clothing distributor/terrorist. But I think he’s mostly concerned about the garment knockoffs. It was tough to tell really.

To say that the film lacked coherence would be complimentary. I’ve never seen a movie more filled with extraneous and self-indulgent camera work, dialogue, or plot “twists” than this one. Also, Jean-Claude Van Damme, though this is an action moving starring him, is not – at least as far as is explained in the plot – supposed to have any martial arts talent. However, this doesn’t stop him from beating the crap out of as many as six adversaries at one time without absorbing so much as a blow himself.

And then, Rob Schneider – the supposed CIA agent – is about as useless as Peter Sarsgaard in every role he’s ever played. He’s constantly getting his ass kicked and offering up goofy commentary. I think he disarms one bad guy throughout the film. I just… who was casting this movie? How on earth do you make Schneider the undercover CIA agent and Van Damme the innocent fashion designer? I get that Schneider was trying to have an action film career – he was in Judge Dredd too – but come on.

As much as I’m ranting, this is a bad movie that was at times unintentionally hilarious. Unfortunately, it also had times where it was just flat out bad and boring. I alternated from laughing to the point of physical exhaustion to adopting a look that shouted “murder” on my face due to how infuriated I was with myself that I was actually taking the time to watch this movie. One of my roommates came home at one point and sat down to ask if I was okay, insisting that I shut the movie off so that we could talk about it.

I think what pissed me off the most was the camerawork. This director’s head was so far up his own ass that I felt like he had drugged me and dragged me back to his apartment to show off all of his coolest possessions. It was the most self-indulgent display of irrelevance I’ve ever been privy to. I was shouting at my TV, “Why?! Why the fuck does that shot exist?!”

My “favorite” was probably the one where Jean Claude Van Damme’s brand new sneakers (which happen to be Knock Offs!) quite literally explode in the midst of a thoroughly unexplained foot race. No, wait, maybe it’s when Rob Schneider is whipping JCVD in the ass with a fish while simultaneously complimenting him on how nice his butt is? Actually, come to think of it, I think the best is when one of our completely interchangeable villains is about to shoot someone, and the director thought that would be best represented by putting our perspective inside the barrel of the gun facing outward, and as the trigger is pulled, shooting our POV out in time with the bullet.

It’s confusing, disorienting, and thoroughly pointless – everything he seemed to be going for in this film.