Universal // 1995 // 111 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 28th, 2013
"If the dome is falling down around your ass, don't move!"
In 1995, Jean-Claude Van Damme combined the best elements of human civilization -- stern parenting, NHL playoff hockey, and helicopters -- into one unforgettable experience.
Darren McCord (Van Damme, Universal Soldier) is a brave firefighter and a dedicated father. Unfortunately, a routine house fire ended in tragic circumstances, leading to a downward personal spiral. Now, struggling to connect with his estranged children and scarred by the traumas of his past, McCord does what any desperate and broken man would do: score some sweet seats to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
As he and his kids settle in for an evening of white-knuckle Penguins-on-Blackhawks action, he inadvertently gets sucked into a real-time terrorist attack. A maniac named Foss (Powers Boothe, Tombstone) has captured the Vice-President and is threatening to kill him, by blowing up Luc Robitaille and everyone else in the Mellon Arena if he doesn't get what he wants.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let us spill our gratitude for the cornucopia of awesomeness that is this movie, and deliver an itemized list of what we're thankful for when it comes to Sudden Death...
I Am Thankful For Those Dumb Kids
Precocious tots are aggravating in any movie, but in action films they tend to be death knells. McCord's offspring in particular come across as mouth-breathers, but they're useful for something: plot contrivance! Thanks to his goofy daughter getting kidnapped by the terrorists (for some reason), McCord springs into action and starts snapping necks. And kudos to the screenwriter who conjured up the idea for having McCord's son remain in his seat while people run, scream, and die, as helicopters nosedive into center ice simply because his dad told him to, thus sparing us from extended sequences of our hero constantly chasing after his kid and distracting him from important work, like making game-saving goalie stops in the NHL playoffs.
I Am Thankful For Hockey Equipment
I've never played hockey. I know nothing about blade-sharpeners and the like. But staging an action movie in a hockey rink means that we get all sort of crazy, gory bad guy kills involving hockey gear.
I Am Thankful For Slow-On-The-Trigger Terrorists
This is, of course, not limited to Sudden Death, but goodness gracious...I lost count of the dolts who had McCord dead to rights only to hesitate and monologue. This is not a criticism, by the way, because it allowed JCVD the time to do crazy stuff like this.,,
I Am Thankful For Helpful Arson Tips
Utilizing a firefighter's know-how, McCord pieces together a homemade flamethrower using a Super Soaker and a lighter, which works surprisingly well if you're looking to melt the face off a turncoat FBI agent.
I Am Thankful For Dry Ice And Chicken Bones
I have no insider information on this, but I am willing to bet the writers were continually trying to one-up each other with goofy ways for McCord to dispatch his foes. His bouts culminate in I-Spy mini-games, with our hero using just about anything lying around as an instrument of death and torture. The very least you can say about Sudden Death is that fools punch out in ways you have never seen...and never will again.
I Am Thankful The Penguins Organization Allowed Their Beloved Mascot To
Get His Head Chopped Up By An Oven Fan
Taking place in a kitchen, this mascot melee made sure to utilize all manner of industrial food preparation equipment -- from a fryer and a meat slicer, to an automatic dishwasher -- all of which was conveniently left on and running! This battle between a small Belgian man and a hulking felt bird would all be an amusing sight, if it weren't so brutally violent.
I Am Thankful For Villainous Ineptitude
Why exactly did Foss insist on carting around McCord's daughter at the end? Oh right, so we can get The Greatest Sideways Helicopter Scene Ever Filmed!
And Most Of All...I Am Thankful For This Sudden Death (Blu-ray)
Forget 1080p. For the longest time, an anamorphic print of the film was incredibly difficult to come by. To snag it in widescreen you had to buy a multi-pack of Van Damme films, thus subjecting yourself to The Quest, which is never a wise decision. Add to that, a high-def iteration of Sudden Death could only be found in frequent rotation on Universal's HD channel. Confounding! This disc itself is a Region Free import, but I'll take it. This lean offering (no extras) is of little consequence, because we can now enjoy the greatest Die Hard rip-off ever made in the way God originally intended.
Actually, Sudden Death is so awesome it retroactively makes Die Hard a Sudden Death rip-off.
If you don't own this yet, you should be fed to wild dogs.
Review content copyright © 2013 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (French)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (German)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (Italian)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 111 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Rated R