Running Length: 103 minutes
Cast: Jean Claude Van Damme, Francois Damiens, Zinedine Soualem
Director: Mabrouk El Mechiri
Screenplay: Mabrouk El Mecheri, Frederic Benudis
Cinematography: Pierre Yves Bastard
The latest film from “the Muscles from Brussels” pokes fun at the star’s on-screen persona while humanising and making him almost likable. Opening with a virtuoso single shot of Van Damme strolling a city street and dispatching bad guy stuntmen with ease, we then get an insight into the man behind the movies. This JCVD has just lost his daughter in a custody battle and has returned to Brussels almost penniless. When his card gets declined at an ATM, he goes into the bank and finds himself in the midst of a hold-up and hostage situation.
Having recognized him, the video-store clerks across the street call the cops. But they mistakenly assume it was JCVD who is holding the hostages, not that he is among their number. Clearly the movie star heroics he is famous for won’t work against real bullets, so Van Damme is forced to find a real world solution as the media presence outside the bank increases.
There hasn’t been a movie star willing to take a chance like this since John Malkovich parodied his own persona in Being John Malkovich, and Van Damme shows that he does actually have some acting talent. Never again will we be able to watch Universal Soldier without thinking about this.