The Quest (1996)

So Jean-Claude is now an auteur.  Well, why not?  Segal, Stallone, 
and Schwarzenegger (in a TV movie) have all done it and emerged 
from behind the camera with their careers still intact.  And,  
there's certainly more to this martial arts (near) epic than one 
might expect.  In fact, the only particularly jarring moment occurs 
in the opening scene, when Van Damme, wearing old-age make-up, 
bellies-up to a bar and threatens to speak the word "rosebud."  No, 
he never says *that* word, but he does recount the entire story in 

Cut to a street scene in 1920's New York City, where Van Damme's 
clown-faced, stilt-walking pickpocket (!) is about to run afoul of 
both the law and the mob.  Making his escape, he hops a freighter 
bound for (where else?) the Far East.  Eventually, he finds his way 
to Tibet, to participate in a mountain-top martial arts competition 
between the greatest fighters from sixteen counties.  Orphans, 
elephants, gun runners, and Sumo wrestlers, it's *all* here.  

The period detail and location photography is very nice, as is the 
story's near-epic scope.  Unfortunately, THE QUEST suffers from 
several fatal flaws, the most glaring of which is an absolute lack 
of dramatic tension.  Nothing propels this movie.  And you can take 
it from there.  (Flaw #2 is the chemistry that the characters 
*don't* have.  I can't decide who is less-animated:  Van Damme or 
co-star Roger Moore.  Phew.  Flaw #3: missing scenes...)  Martial-
arts fans and video-game junkies might enjoy this one, but everyone 
else should save their money.  (Rated "PG-13"/95 min.)

Grade: D

Copyright 1996 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies

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