Maximum Risk

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

Category Action Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - Dolby Digital City
Year Released 1996 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 97 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 4 Director Ringo Lam 

Columbia Tristar
Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme
Natasha Henstridge
Jean-Louis Anglade
RRP $34.95

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1    
Macrovision Yes    
Subtitles English

Plot Synopsis

    Maximum Risk is a strictly no-brainer action feature starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as Alain, a French policeman who discovers that he has a secret brother when his dead identical twin (Mikhail) turns up in France. Alain decides to find out why his brother, who was sold at birth by their mother, was killed.

    Alain goes to New York where we meet a series of one-dimensional bad guys, ostensibly from the Russian Mafia, and Alex (Natasha Henstridge), who was Mikhail's girlfriend. Many people get killed and quite a lot of property gets damaged along the way.

    We learn that Mikhail was in possession of a list which listed the Russian Mafia's operations in New York and also listed crooked policemen in the FBI who helped them. This is why Mikhail was killed. More people get killed and more property gets damaged, including one quite exciting sequence involving an elevated train line, before Alain returns to Nice to get the safety deposit box with the list.

    All the bad guys who are still alive congregate around the bank whilst Alain gets the list, and predictably, another shoot-out and car chase ensues where the bad guys lose and the good guys win.

    There is nothing particularly original or exciting about this movie - it's all been done before, and probably done better, though I will say that Jean-Claude does know how to break people's arms in a most gruesome fashion, which is one of his unique traits.

Transfer Quality


    The video transfer of this movie is generally good, with a few minor faults.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was razor sharp most of the time. The odd scene here and there was a little soft. In fact, the movie came across as looking rather 'dated' in its transfer, even though it is only 2 years old. Shadow detail was generally good, with no low level noise of note. One sequence, starting at Chapter 23 (the bank in Nice) was overbright and slightly washed out.

    The colours were somewhat subdued throughout compared with other Columbia Tristar transfers, and in particular the end abattoir sequence could have done with a little more saturation in my opinion.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen.

    A number of slightly irritating film-to-video artefacts were seen. Several vertical jumps were noted at reel change points, none particularly distracting, but they were there nonetheless. Also present was a significant amount of image wobble. This was apparent in Chapters 23 and 24, from 70:20 - 75:44, inside the bank.

    I also noted more film artefacts than I would expect given the recent age of this movie, however, none were particularly distracting.


    There are several audio tracks on this DVD. The default is English Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, surround-encoded. The other tracks present are an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (which is the one I listened to) and French Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 surround-encoded soundtracks.

    Dialogue was crisp and clear at all times, and easy to understand despite the thick French accents.

    The musical score is unremarkable.

     The surround channels were used for action sequences and some music. At other times, they were silent. The mix to the rear sounded mono, with no specific split surround effects noted. As a result of this, the mix sounded somewhat dated compared with current mixes, as often it would be up-front-and-centre.

    The .1 channel got used to support the action sequences, so it was reasonably active during this movie with explosions, gunshots, and various sound effects.


    The menu on the disc is the standard Columbia Tristar menu system.

    The theatrical trailer is present, presented with a 4:3 aspect ratio and with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    The Sony Pictures DVD Centre and the Dolby Digital City trailers are present on this disc in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.


    Maximum Risk is strictly a no-brainer for Jean-Claude Van Damme fans only. There is little here for any one else, especially given the less than perfect video transfer and the ordinary audio mix.

    The video quality is generally fine, but there are noticeable imperfections in the transfer as noted above.

    The audio quality is just average for an action picture, and sounds more like a matrix-encoded soundtrack than a truly discrete 5.1 mix.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
21st December 1998

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer