Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Tie Ins: Sudden Death by Stephen Mertz

Sudden Death
by Stephen Mertz
based on the screenplay by Gene Quintano
1995 Boulevard

The film, Sudden Death (1995) is Die Hard in a hockey stadium.  Jean Claude Van Damme is a fire marshal who has brought his kids to a hockey game when Powers Booth holds the vice president hostage.

The film was a bit odd at the time.  Action films had become postmodern, mostly in a bad way.  Self referential and embarrassed to be an action movie.  Most of the 90s were like this, for Hollywood films anyway, until The Matrix came along.  1995 was very late to be making Die Hard clones.

I was (and still am) a hardcore Van Damme fan, but even by this point I, and judging by the laughter the rest of the audience, was watching this in the theater ironically.  I watched parts of it again recently, and it did kind of play for laughs at points, but not enough to be tongue in cheek.  And I forget how much charisma Van Damme used to have, before he became so very, very sad.

The movie was also a little different for toning down the karate and having more environmental kills.  That and Van Damme's character spends half the movie making improvised weapons and booby traps like Home Alone.  The hole thing ends with what I thought was the worst CGI effect I'd ever seen as a helicopter, pointing nose down, slowly lowers through the top of the stadium.  I found out recently they actually lowered the helicopter down by crane.

The book follows the movie pretty much to the letter, with a few minor deviations and elaborations, and it kind of confirms a theory I had while watching it.  Most of the fights took place in the kitchen - two in the book, but I remember at least three in the movie, because it was ridiculous to the point where the audience was laughing "not in the kitchen, again".  I was convinced that they figured out a way to kill someone with each piece of kitchen equipment, and they would keep having fights there until they used them all.

The book, likely based on the script, had fewer of these elements, and the fights were likely embellished on the set.

The writing style was a bit off.  Stephen Mertz has written libraries of men's adventure fiction, but this had a more juvenile style to it, with inner monologues that sound like cussy thirteen year olds.

The book had a few added details to the story, the most important of which is that Powers Booth's character had a woody every time he committed an act of violence.

Paperback available from AbeBooks

No comments:

Post a Comment