Film Reviews


By • Jan 3rd, 2009 •

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Van Damme easily and impressively takes the career comeback title from Mickey Rourke. It’s an acting tour de force not to be missed. Van Damme bears his soul.

A very clever premise. Movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme is back in Brussels after losing custody of his daughter. His movie career is over. He complains to his agent about the state of his career. He pleads with his agent to put him up for a studio movie. He’ll work for scale but his agent wants him to do another Bulgarian movie. JCVD knows that if the Bulgarian movie pays his quote, there will be no money left to make a decent movie. His agent is only looking out for his 10% commission. JCVD expresses desperation that these movies are killing his career.

JCVD announces Van Damme’s arrival as an actor.

JCVD’s arch-rival, Steven Seagal, is never far from JCVD’s mind or career. In JCVD, Seagal has won a movie he was up for by agreeing to cut off his ponytail.

JCVD is still keeping his decade-long feud with Seagal alive. It may have started because of Van Damme’s 1995 Playboy interview. The interviewer wrote in the introduction to the interview: “Of the two, Van Damme is clearly the rising star. While Seagal’s latest films have misfired with moviegoers — and the star has taken hits offscreen for his temperamental behavior — Van Damme is on a hot streak.”

And then Sylvester Stallone chimed in. Stallone told British magazine FHM, “At a party in my home in Miami in 1997, Van Damme was tired of Seagal claiming he could kick his ass so he offered Seagal outside into my back yard. Seagal made his excuses and left. But Van Damme, who was berserk, tracked him down at a nightclub and offered him out again.” FHM continued: “The pair’s fight never materialised, but Stallone is confident who would have triumphed in the brawl. He adds, “Van Damme was too strong. Seagal wanted none of it.”

JCVD at 47 is at a very low point in his personal and professional life. He is broke and begs his agent to wire him some money. He needs the money to send to his lawyer.

Everywhere JCVD goes in Brussels he is warmly received by fans. He gladly accommodates requests for photos and autographs. He heads into a post office and right into the middle of a robbery-hostage situation. Outside, people assume JCVD has “gone postal”. The real robbers go along with this and have him talk to the police. His fans have gathered with “Free Jean-Claude” posters. His parents come out to talk to him. This is as big as O.J.’s Bronco drive.

His lawyer and his agent issue releases denying any affiliation to JCVD as it is now taken as fact that he is robbing a post office and holding hostages.

Now a hostage, the robbers start talking to JCVD about his career. He brought director John Woo to Hollywood, doesn’t that count for anything? He’s asked to show off his signature moves. When JCVD tries to reason with the bad guys to free a young hostage, the leader says: “When I want stretching advice, I’ll ask you.”

And that is the tone of the entire movie. It’s a former movie-star deliberately allowing himself to be laid bare.

In an emotional scene, JCVD talks right to the audience. He knows that we know everything about him. He admits to the sex orgies, the drugs, and the many wives. With the camera never cutting away, he starts to cry.

Inside the post office, JCVD is not an action hero, but a hostage. He’s a real person faced with a dilemma. There are two ways this ends. The movie ending and the real ending.

If you loved JCVD’s movies, this is a stunning exposure and you must give him credit for agreeing to not only do this, but executive-produce the film.

It was the right choice. If you thought JCVD could only do a very good leg split, this movie will change that.

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