Reel Toronto: JCVD in Maximum Risk
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Reel Toronto: JCVD in Maximum Risk

Toronto's extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn't always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.

Maximum Risk, how have we not profiled you before? Where have you been all our lives? By all rights, this Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle should have been a double bill with Steven Segal’s Exit Wounds, one of the worst we’ve seen. Both are from that period before The Expendables came out, when second-tier action offerings were bad instead of campy fun. This one stars JCVD as a twin of a French cop who gets killed in the opening scene and then he’s chased by the Russian mafia and…well, who cares?

Maximum Risk made short thrift of Ringo Lam‘s attempt to forge a Hollywood career but, more importantly, it also gives us a chance to spot Toronto locations. (Random note: IMDB claims the Hong Kong–born filmmaker learned his trade at York University. Hm!)

The film’s opening and closing scenes take place in France, especially in Nice. Nonetheless, this French bank interior was shot here at the Permanent Assurance building, on Bay Street.

But in the middle of the film our hero visits that old standby, “New York City,” complete with stereotypical cab driver. Naturally, the first place they head to is “Times Square,” actually Yonge and Elm.

In this universe, Times Square even has its own Sam the Record Man.

A bit later, there’s a big chase scene at a strip club, played by Zanzibar.

A little hard to miss, eh?

Oh, no, not the sign!

They did a bunch of shooting down in that area and you can also see a bit more of Sam’s here…

…and Sunrise Records…

…and a reflection as they go by Downtown Toyota, on Queen East.

New York also has seedy hotels to use as hideouts. This one is the Waverly. The dive (no offense) has another cinematic claim to fame as the opening location in Elmore Leonard’s Killshot, a mediocre film, also shot here.

Amusing sidenote: The hotel’s exterior sign says “Waverly,” but in the opening shot of Killshot, it says “Waverley.” You might think that’s a mistake, except the hotel’s website also has that extra E. What the heck? There’s also some confusion about whether it’s “Hotel Waverly” or “Waverly Hotel,” but rooms go for as little as $60 a night, so what more do you need to know?

The Russian baddies hang out at a place called The Bohemia. It’s actually the old Left Bank, on Queen West, which today is a tattoo shop. We see it outside…

…and in.

One of the film’s more entertaining scenes is this big, ol’ fight scene in a steam bath. It’s carefully disguised…

…but you might recognize the floor tiles here as a giveaway that we’re in the stables at Casa Loma. You are looking at the tiles, right?

This holding cell is in the basement of Old City Hall.

And this butcher is the Corsetti Brothers Meat Packers, in the west end.

Here, they’re driving down Lake Shore East, under the Gardiner.

Of course, it seems like just about every film that shot here before it closed took time to visit the outside…

…and inside of the Canary Restaurant. Did we mention that’s Canuck gal Natasha Henstridge?

Speaking of local thespians, hey, it’s awesome theatre dude Albert Schultz slumming but earning enough bread to put on a few Chekhov plays, or whatever.

Here’s a stakeout, right here on Playter Crescent.

It’s hard to be totally sure, but this house, under renovations on the streetview, looks like it’s probably this one.

Maximum Risk did a pretty good job getting around town and we all enjoyed our little visit to “New York City” one more time.