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Wake of Death is an Americanmarker action movie, directed by Frenchmarker director, Philippe Martinez. Ringo Lam was the original director, but he left the project after a few weeks of filming in Canadamarker. The movie was released to the cinema in Francemarker but direct to video in America in 2004, and has been rated "R" by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for "strong violence,language,sexuailty".


After being a gangster for many years, Ben Archer (played by Jean-Claude Van Damme) moves from Marseillemarker to Los Angelesmarker and decides to become legit to spend more time with his wife, Cynthia (Lisa King), and his child, Nicholas (Pierre Marais).

Cynthia is a social worker with the INS, helping to process illegal Chinesemarker immigrants. Then she discovers Kim (played by Valerie Tian), a young girl on board a ship that is full of immigrants, and decides to bring her home. She convinces a judge that the girl is in grave danger if deported and successfully pleads with him to give her one week to sort out her case against deportation.

However, it proves to be a fatal mistake. Kim's father, Sun Quan (played by Simon Yam), is a Chinese Triad. Once Sun Quan discovers where his daughter is, without provocation, he kills Cynthia, her parents and many of the workers in the restaurant at which they're dining.

After a shootout with the fleeing Triad members, Ben finds his wife brutally murdered. His son Nicholas and Kim are missing. He attempts to save the children and avenge his wife's death.

Ben, however, is not alone in his attempts to avenge his wife. With the help of French mobsters Max (Anthony Fridjohn)(who happens to be Cynthia's uncle), Raymond (Max's muscle / bodyguard) (Claude Hernandez), and Tony (Tony Schiena), a friend the character loves like a brother. Ben's child and Kim are found, Ben then decides to kill Andy Wang (Tom Wu), who he saw leaving his wife's murder scene. The hit is successful, and the investigation afterwards gives Ben a lead on where to move next.

The next morning, thanks to tips from a somewhat crooked cop, Ben finds that Mac Hoggins (Danny Keogh), Cynthia's partner in the INS, was at the investigation, completely out of his field. Ben and his comerades then capture Hoggins, take him to a garage, and they torture him for answers. Ben is called by the same cop that tipped him off about Hoggins, and is asked to meet him at the morgue.

Hoggins confesses to telling Sun Quan of Cynthia's involvement with Kim, and gives them information of Sun Quan's involvement with heroin in the United States, as well as his location. With all of the information, they kill him.

When Ben arrives at the morgue, he is quickly greeted with death, as everyone in the morgue (with the exception of a few scared nurses) has been killed, with dead immigrants on the table.

After a motorcycle chase, Ben disposes of both of the murderers, and heads back to Max's house. Upon arriving, there are 2 black SUVs speeding off, and Tony, who was riding with him, jumps out and runs inside, while Ben gives chase. Apparently, the Triads had kidnapped Kim and Nicholas, and Ben is only able to retrieve Kim, barely escaping with their lives.

Ben drives back to Max's house, where he learns that Max and Raymond have been killed. Then, Ben and Tony decide to take on Sun Quan with the information provided by Hoggins.

They go to Pier 19, to his boat, the Katrina, in which is used for Quan's heroin operations. After vicious fights on the ship, Ben and Sun Quan are faced off on a bridgewalk on the boat. They exchange gunshots right when the police arrive, Ben being hit in his shoulder or arm region, and Sun Quan being fatally wounded.

Critical praise

Although Wake of Death went direct-to-video in America, (it was released in theaters to several overseas territories with success) it earned praise from fans and critics alike for its downbeat tone, raw violence, and solid acting by Van Damme as a man on a mission of revenge.

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