Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for JCVD


USA, 2008
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.


  1. I've wanted to see this one since its release. Still haven't gotten around to it!

  2. A Jean Claude Van Damme movie I haven't seen? Color me shocked. I better correct this! :)

  3. Of all martial arts action heroes, I really dislike this guy. (Although I kinda liked the Timecop movie.) I recently saw part of a movie about the end of the world and the actors played themselves (one was that Franco guy--why is he a star?). It was full of tacky guy humor so I clicked away...

  4. Great review - I will have to watch this one! (

  5. I love how you say "almost" likable. Honestly, I never understood his appeal. He seems so over the top.

  6. Huh. I never would have thought him capable of, well, any of it. lol! Thanks for putting this on my radar. :)