Maximum Risk is a 1996 American action thriller film directed by Hong Kong director Ringo Lam in his American directorial debut, and starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Natasha Henstridge.

Maximum Risk
Original theatrical poster
Directed byRingo Lam
Written byLarry Ferguson
Produced byMoshe Diamant
CinematographyAlexander Gruszynski
Edited byBill Pankow
Music byRobert Folk
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release dates
  • September 13, 1996 (1996-09-13) (United States)
  • January 1, 1997 (1997-01-01) (France)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$25 million[1]
Box office$51.7 million

The film was released in the United States on September 13, 1996.[2] The film was mildly successful at the box office.[3]


A man is chased through the streets of Nice, France, ultimately resulting in his death. A cop, Alain Moreau, is brought by his partner Sebastien to the scene because the victim's face is identical to Alain's. Matches found in his pocket point towards a local hotel, where the proprietor mistakes Alain for "Mikhail Suverov" and gives him the phone message "Call Alex Bohemia." In Mikhail's room is a passport with the same birth date as Alain, and a plane ticket to New York.

Alain's mother admits that he has a twin brother who she had to give up at birth because she was impoverished. Alain and Sebastian visit the office of the lawyer who adopted Mikhail. They find the room in flames and a large Russian man attacks Alain. He escapes with the adoption file, which reveals Mikhail was adopted by a Russian family who immigrated to America. Alain takes the passport and plane ticket to New York to investigate his brother's death and learn more about him.

In New York, Alain discovers Mikhail was a member of the Russian mafia. When he mentions Alex Bohemia, he is referred to the Bohemia Club in Little Odessa. There a woman named Alex Bartlett mistakes him for Mikhail and gives him a key to a hotel room. Wary, Alain rents the room across the hall.

When Alex comes to meet him later, Alain reveals that he is Mikhail's brother. Ivan (who saw Mikhail in the club) and his thugs arrive to kill him, believing he is Mikhail. Alain and Alex escape. Alex tells him Mikhail was her boyfriend and he had a plan to leave the Russian Mafia. They go to Mikhail's home, where Alain finds out Mikhail discovered his existence when he saw an article in the paper about his war exploits. After more Russians come to the house, Alain and Alex flee to her friend's cabin.

The next morning, two FBI agents come to the cabin. They say Mikhail kept evidence against the Russian Mafia that he intended to turn over to them, wanting to reform. They want Alain to pose as Mikhail to access his safe deposit box back in Nice. In actuality, they want to destroy the evidence because it implicates them in colluding with the Russian Mafia.

Realizing that the FBI and not the Mafia knew Mikhail was dead, Alain deduces that it was FBI agents who killed Mikhail, and refuses to cooperate. After a fight, Alain handcuffs the agents together and leaves with Alex to visit Kirov, the leader of the Russian Mafia. When he finds them at a banya, Alain tells Kirov that Ivan has been trying to kill him, which enrages Kirov. After Kirov tells Alain the truth about the so-called evidence he has, Ivan sends the big Russian thug from the lawyer's office to kill Kirov and Alain. Kirov dies and Alain escapes in the scuffle; during the pursuit by Ivan, Alain is arrested by NYPD. The two corrupt FBI agents find Alex, bail Alain out of jail and use her to force Alain to access the deposit box.

Bank policy dictates that only Mikhail himself can access the safe deposit box, forcing the FBI agents to wait outside while Alaine passes for him. In the box is the evidence, and the banker also brings him a box in Alain's name. This one has thousands in cash, a gun and a tape recording from Mikhail explaining how he decided to escape the mob life and reunite with his family. He instructs a banker to turn over the evidence to the US Embassy, and sets off the sprinkler system to make his escape. Ivan, waiting with Sebastien as his hostage, sends in the big Russian. The thug kills the banker and takes the evidence, but Alain catches up and kills him in the elevator.

Outside, police officers block off Ivan's escape, giving Alain time to catch up, shoot out Ivan's tires, and rescue Sebastien; Ivan dies in the wreckage. Alain then chases the FBI agents into a meat locker where he shoots them both and rescues Alex. Mikhail's evidence of Mafia collusion with the FBI leads to several arrests. Alain takes Alex, with whom he is now romantically involved, to meet his mother so she can tell her about Mikhail.



The film was originally known as The Exchange, then it was retitled Bloodstone.[4] Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, better known for Scary Movie and their other parodies, performed an uncredited rewrite on the film.[5]


Maximum Risk opened on September 13, 1996, at the number one spot at the box office, taking in $5.6m in its first weekend, and made a final domestic tally of $14mand worldwide gross of $52m.[6][1]


Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 32% of 37 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating was 4.4/10.[7] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B−" on an A+ to F scale.[8]

Leonard Klady of Variety wrote, "It's a visceral delight that refuses to be deterred by niceties of plot or character consistency and prefers sweat to emotion."[9] Richard Harrington of The Washington Post wrote that the film depends too much on car chases, which end up dominating the film.[10] Lawrence Van Gelder of The New York Times wrote, "From start to finish, 'Maximum Risk' presents spectacular stunts choreographed and coordinated by Charles Picerni and some hair-raising, stomach-churning automotive chases attributed to Remy Julienne, the French master of the art."[11]

Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called it "a solid, fast-moving action-adventure" in which Van Damme "does some of his best acting yet".[12] Conversely, Peter Stack of the San Francisco Chronicle criticized Van Damme's acting, which is "hobbled by a weak script that even veteran Hong Kong action director Ringo Lam can't salvage".[13]

See also

  • Double Impact, a 1991 action film which also has Van Damme playing identical twins.


  1. ^ a b "Maximum Risk". The Numbers. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
  2. ^ "Jean-Claude Van Damme". The A.V. Club. March 11, 2008. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Hal Hinson (March 30, 1996). "Hooray for Hong Kong! Hollywood Looks East". The Washington Post. p. B1.
  5. ^ Patches, Matt (January 31, 2014). "Surely They Can't Be Serious? - The unlikely rise of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, Hollywood's majorly hated, hugely successful kings of the modern-day spoof". Grantland. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
  6. ^ "'Risk,' 'Fly Away' Draw Top Spots at Box Office". Los Angeles Times. September 16, 1996. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
  7. ^ "Maximum Risk (1996)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 29, 2022.
  8. ^ "CinemaScore".
  9. ^ Klady, Leonard (September 16, 1996). "Maximum Risk". Variety. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
  10. ^ "Maximum Risk". The Washington Post. March 11, 1997. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
  11. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (September 14, 1996). "Maximum Risk". The New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
  12. ^ Thomas, Kevin (September 14, 1996). "'Risk' Lets Van Damme Show Some Depth". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
  13. ^ Stack, Peter (March 14, 1997). "Van Damme Tries to Act and Fails". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved February 6, 2015.

External links