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September 28, 2008
Maximum Risk Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
5/12/199627/8/2008Sony PicturesRingo Lam
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Dolby TrueHD 5.1MJean-Claude Van Damme

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Jean-Claude Van Damme in Maximum Risk.

Jean-Claude Van Damme, the Muscles from Brussels. As an action hero from the 1980's he never reached the lofty heights set by Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone, but sat comfortably alongside Steven Segal and Wesley Snipes as a group of actors who have smaller budget films but still managed to bring in sizable box office numbers. Maximum Risk was released after a couple of 'duds' including Street Fighter: The Movie and The Quest, but we're not sure if this movie did much for his career.

Alain Moreau is a policeman who takes his the place of his twin brother Mikhail Suverov after he is killed. By doing this he inherits his brother's problems, and his beautiful girlfriend (Natasha Henstridge). Alain is forced to kick box his way from France to the U.S. and back while playing footsie with the FBI and Russian mafia. Not just muscles with a badge, Alain must find the answers to some tough questions, none harder than what the heck is an accordion player doing in a sauna!

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Remember this classic Van-Damme fight?
Directed by Hong Kong director Ringo Lam (who has directed Chow Yun Fat in several movies) Maximum Risk is a pretty run-of-the-mill 1990's action movie. There are a few set pieces set to get your heart racing a bit - the fire at the lawyer's office, the fight in the sauna, and some of the car chases - but nothing here stands above anything you haven't seen a hundred times before.

Your choice to buy, or hire, this movie will likely boil down to your perceptions of Jean-Claude Van Damme. If you like him then you'll enjoy this movie, if you don't then this won't change your mind. Some of his fighting moves are pretty impressive but the director doesn't really pull much emotion out of him, and there are few touching moments. What may be a surprise to some is that the leading lady in this movie is none other then Natasha Henstridge in only her second role after Species.

Make no mistake about it, this is a Van Damme action movie which takes few risks, and does little that you haven't seen a hundred times before. It is certainly better then efforts including Street Fighter, Double Impact and Cyborg, but falls short of other efforts such as Bloodsport, Hard Target and TimeCop.

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The gorgeous Natasha Henstridge in Maximum Risk.

Sony Pictures have brought Maximum Risk to Blu-Ray in 1080p at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. For a rather low budget 1996 movie the picture quality is more then acceptable, although not quite up to the shiniest of Blu-Ray releases. Many of the scenes are visually impressive - particularly those outdoors where it is nice and bright.

As expected though there are some problems with the video quality in this movie. Sharpness and contrast levels are a little inconsistent from scene to scene, and the level of grain also varies greatly. Don't get me wrong, most of these issues are from the source material, rather then the transfer, but it is noticeable. The biggest issue though is the lack of detail in darker scenes which is where the transfer seems to give up and loses that fine detail we've come to expect.

What did surprise me about this disc was the audio. Sony Pictures have provided English, Italian and Spanish Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio tracks. The movie has some use of surround sound channels, but being a mid-budget action movie the surround sound effects are pretty limited. Having said that the dialogue is clear and the movie probably sounds as good on Blu-Ray as it ever has.

The only other track on this disc is a Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 640kbps and while not quite as crystal clear as the other tracks is more then acceptable. Subtitles include English, English SDH, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish and Turkish. Sampling the English track showed that some dialogue has been changed - primarily to reduce the amount of text - but it includes decent timing.

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Alain Moreau is pretty pissed.

Sadly, and as with the DVD release, there are no extras here to get excited about. In fact, all we get is the Theatrical trailer, and some trailers for a couple of other Sony Blu-Ray discs.

Theatrical Trailer (1:26/HD): The theatrical trailer for the movie. Presented in HD using MPEG-2 compression and Dolby Digital 5.1 640kbps audio.

Trailers (HD): Trailers for Men in Black, Close Encounters of the Third Kind 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition, 21 and Blu-Ray Disc is High Definition promo trailer. All are presented in HD as expected.

If you like Jean-Claude Van Damme and/or action movies then Maximum Risk is one of those 1990's action movies that will keep you entertained. It is by no means perfect, but Sony Pictures have provided a decent transfer to Blu-Ray. Sadly, there is a complete lack of extras on this disc. One for Van Damme action fans...

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Sony Pictures. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.