This is a really good film about celebrity, artifice and aging action heroes.
Jan 29, 2009
I've always been a fan of Jean Claude Van Damme's movies, the same way I'm a fan of, say, french fries or Hawaiian Punch or Gears of War. Basically guilty pleasure junk food.
As a youngster, my brother and I derived many hours of fun watching Kickboxer, Bloodsport, Street Fighter the Movie and so on. We would extend the fun times by repeating choice lines of dialogue from the movies like "My mama took one" in our best Belgian accents.
But whatever happened to Mr Van Damme? It seems like he disappeared from feature films not long after the Street Fighter debacle. I had heard that he was making straight to video releases and slumming in the Euro film industry, an action career in the decline.
JCVD, directed by Mabrouk El Mechri, attempts to chronicle the former star's career in it's twilight years, but it's not a documentary. The genius of this movie is that it is essentially a work of fiction about a real guy, starring that guy, but incorporating enough truths about his life so that we get a better insight into his life than any documentary could ever provide. Oh, and it gives us an action-oriented, suspenseful genre movie to boot. Imagine an amalgam of Being John Malkovich and Dog Day Afternoon.
Jean Claude gives an amazing performance, showcasing acting chops that were never even hinted at in laffers like Hard Target or Double Team. Maybe because he's playing a heightened version of himself, in his native language? Whatever the case, he carries the movie well. The cinematography is incredible, and notable scenes include a bravura action-movie-within-a-movie opener, and a heartfelt, beautiful soliloquy from the Muscle from Brussels himself, midway through the film. In that scene Jean Claude waxes poetic about his career, as the backdrop literally scrolls away, revealing him floating above a movie set. It is a compelling moment, a risky conceit, but like the rest of the movie it works incredibly well, and serves as a beatiful coda to an otherwise decent career.
*** out of **** Don't you love it when a crummy actor is given one moment of true glory? That moment of glory, for actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, is the film "JCVD". Throughout his career, Van Damme has starred in various generic action films; all of which have been forgettable and ultimately convoluted. It's almost kind of strange how this film doesn't mimic or mock the quality of his other films. No, this film is better than that. It features Van Damme playing a semi-fictitious … more
JCVD is just what all the other reviews claim, it's a tour de force for Jean-Claude Van Damme The Actor. If you're renting this expecting anything at all in the way of action then you are going to be extremely disappointed because apart from the opening scene which turns out to be a scene from a movie he is supposedly filming, there is a total of two kicks, an elbow, and maybe a punch. I think that perhaps as Van Damme nears 50 he's realized that his career as an action star is … more
"Central to Unit 27. Jean-Claude Van Damme's robbing a post office. I need back-up." Short Attention Span Summary (SASS): 1. Jean- Claude Van Damme's getting no respect 2. It's so bad that even Steven Seagal steals a movie role from him 3. "The Muscles" returns to Brussels where at least everyone knows his name 4. His cash-strapped position leads him to the post office 5. People go postal … more