John Mallory Asher
Corbin Bernsen….Marty Hopkins
Andrew Hawkes….Tommy “Hopscotch” Hopkins
Lionsgate presents Kounterfeit. Screenplay by David Chase & Jay Irwin. Running time: 87 minutes. Rated R. Produced in 1996. DVD released Jan. 23, 2007.
What happens when a future two-time Oscar winner hooks up with a director that would eventually claim the Razzie? It’s a crime thriller that feels as fake as the counterfeit cash that everyone is double-crossing and triple-crossing to claim. While this film was made a decade ago, it feels like a Miami Vice knock-off from 20 years back. Don’t get too excited thinking that David Chase, the creator of The Sopranos wrote the script. According to my best research, this isn’t that David Chase.
The movie starts with a guy printing out counterfeit $50 bills on his home computer. He’s got a hefty pile of cash when his operation is invaded by two masked men. He’s got manufactured $4 million, but only has a million on hand. They torture him by putting a clamp on his private parts because they want all the faux cash. Ouch. “Hopscotch” Hopkins is a white version of Miami Vice‘s Noogie. He’s set up a deal to swap the bogus millions for a million in real cash. He enlists muscle help from Frankie, the owner of a strip club where the dancers don’t lose their tops. Of course he doesn’t know that his main man, Gosselaar, is an undercover cop. Swank enters the film as the sister of Gosselaar. She arrives at his house just before the exchange. He hides her in the bedroom. She peeks out the door and watches the major deal go sour with automatic weapons fire renovating the living room.
“Hopscotch” survives the shootout with the funny money. He wants to live the good life while Frankie explains the importance of stashing the cash. “Hopscotch” can’t stay too low profile and throws a pool party. It’s a party that Spuds MacKenzie would endorse. But there’s a serious side to the film. The two masked home invaders are on the prowl to claim the loot back from “Hopscotch.” Plus there’s a vengeful girl on Frankie’s trail.
Swank wants revenge for what has happened to her brother. By accident, she spots Frankie. She auditions to be a dancer at his club so she can get extra close to Frankie. But will she discover the truth of the crime before she becomes a criminal?
Swank is the reason this film deserves to be seen. She does her best to give life to a character that barely reads on the page. She seems very calm dealing with a script that over twists itself with the subterfuge. For fans of Swank’s work, it will be a bit of a shocker to not see her attempting to be male. She shows her sexuality in a few scenes. Probably most of this sensuality was exposed to help her overcome the stigma of being The Next Karate Kid.
This is a transition film for much of the on screen talent with TV legacies. Their cop roles would lead to future law enforcement gigs. While most people know Gosselaar from his role as Zack on Saved By the Bell, he returned to police work on NYPD Blue. Michael Gross would go from being the dad on Family Ties to a cop in the Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct TV movies. L.A. Law‘s Corbin Bernsen become the protector of family vacations in a time share resort promotional film that shows in Orlando. You also get a chance to see what happened to Bobbie Brown after teasing MTV viewers in Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” video.
Director John Mallory Asher is probably best known in America as last year’s winner of the Razzie for Dirty Love starring Jenny McCarthy. That film was so bad that McCarthy filed for divorce afterward. This film is far from Razzie worthy. It’s on par with any of those Roger Corman executive produced cheapies. He seemed to have enough chops to call the shots on an episode of Renegade.
The film is a product of its time. The new $50 bills put out by the treasury, can no longer be created on a color laser printer. There’s more cheese than cunning as the plots are exposed. It’s not a great unsung crime flick. This film has been re-issued for fans of Swank who want to see her dancing dirty in a bra and not beaten to death. She had a lot to hide in Boys Don’t Cry. When all the hidden secrets of Kounterfeit are reveled, it still seems like a cheap Miami Vice knock-off minus the golden talents of Philip Michael Thomas.
The picture is 1.33:1. The film never had a real theatrical release so this aspect ratio matches its straight-to-video legacy. The picture transfer is clean. The color is a bit on the light side.
The soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0. The subtitles are in English and Spanish. The sound mix isn’t too over ambitious so don’t worry about cranking up your system.