Jean-Claude Van Damme films have always had a special place in our hearts here at Sharp. Watching them always brings us back to a time when Bloodsport defined the action movie star. Sure, Arnold was big and tough and invincible and that was cool. But could he perform a double roundhouse kick six feet in the air? No chance.
It didn’t matter that all of VD’s movies followed the same formula (bad guy gets the upper hand, bad guy gets disarmed by a bare-fisted VD, bad guy gets dropped by VD, VD jumps up displaying his uncanny ability to do the splits in midair, shot freezes, cue cheesy ’80s end credits music). We knew what we were going to get and that was more than good enough. Then this movie rolls along.
Jean-Claude stars as a fledgling version of himself whose life is well on its way up shits creek. He can’t gain custody of his daughter, his agent can’t find him any work, he’s broke and to make things worse, Steven Seagal just stole the only role JC had a chance at – because he cut his ponytail off. Back in his homeland of Belgium, things go from worse to disastrous for JC when the post office he visits for a cash loan gets taken over by armed robbers. A cop outside catches a glimpse of JC inside and immediately assumes the movie star’s behind the heist. The thieves soon realize this and decide to make JC their spokesman for monetary demands.
Fearing for his life, JC complies drudgingly. Outside, media, police and S.W.A.T. have barricaded the building as JC’s beleaguered face beams across news bulletins worldwide. Keep in mind, this is the real Van Damme we’re seeing here, so don’t expect him to rabbit punch his way out of this one. This is as anti-VD movie as you’re going to get, a deal that should actually fare well for its audience considering how refreshingly gritty and real the man can act when he’s not doing the same thing over again. Who knew?
Combine that raw performance with the subdued, gloomy look of the film (thanks to the awesomely named cinematographer Pierre Yves Bastard) and you’ve got a surprisingly fascinating and palpable movie with artistic flare to boot. There’s only two deleted scenes to be enjoyed in the Special Features portion, but at least one of them is hilarious (it involves VD kicking a cigarette out of a hostage’s mouth, a request by one of the thieves who happens to be a big VD fan). Aside from that, the 40-minute “Making of JCVD” is an interesting little featurette that introduces us to director Mabrouk El Mechri’s vision for his unorthodox take on a Van Damme movie and how it got pulled off.
Courtesy of Peace Arch Home Entertainment