Reviews

JCVD

3

Van Damme makes a comeback, Rourke style

For a while there, back in the’90s, Jean-Claude Van Damme looked set to muscle in on the big boys. Universal Soldier, Hard Target, Timecop… The Euro kickboxing champ was starting to flex in bigger, slicker pictures.

Then came the divorces, the drugs, the alarming slide into heavy-limbed actioners you’ve never heard of. Now 48, face puffed, eyes clouded, his time is up.

Think again. JCVD marks a Mickey Rourkealike comeback, Van Damme making a virtue of his ravaged face and stiffening joints to play… Himself, parking his worn muscles back in Brussels after losing an LA custody battle for his daughter.

Pursued by the taxman, he steps into a bank to wire funds and finds himself embroiled in a real bank robbery, a crowd gathering outside to chant his name, Dog Day Afternoon-style.

Directed with pace and a little too much surface gloss by Mabrouk El Mechri, JCVD works less as a suspense thriller and more as a treatise on celebrity, a confessional for its star.

It aims playful cuffs at his waning physicality, his dwindling career, and one remarkable seven-minute take even sees Van Damme address the camera to direct roundhouse kicks at his chequered past. Those tears? They’re real.

Jamie Graham

Film Details

User Reviews

    • punchdrunklove

      Feb 4th 2009, 11:32

      4

      It's good to see JCVD out of his comfort zone n it's good to see him in a film where he pulls the audience in for his actual acting n not his roundhouse kick.

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    • Smurfycat

      Feb 9th 2010, 13:32

      4

      Jean-Claude Van Damme seriously needs more "acting" roles - away from the kickboxer martial-arts stuff he still is cast in. Other than Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris or Arnold Schwarzenegger this 80's action icon really can act given a chance. Don't believe me, see this film! In my book he might become one of those few underrated actors that pop up once in while like Mickey Rourke, Sylvester Stallone or Bruce Campbell that, in the right role at the right time, can surpass everyone's expecations.

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    • bassthing

      Mar 12th 2010, 1:00

      3

      I'm not going to write a long review as the ground will have very much been covered already, but, I very much enjoyed this film. Who would have believed that Van Damme can actually act (kind of). This isn't going to win any oscars, but, I enjoyed it. Well directed,there is a mention of Citizen Kane at the beginning of the film, and the direction shows evidence of an apiration towards Welles with some very well done lengthy/extended shots. Good soundtrack, making use of language, music, and silence (a forgotten tool in many films these days). And a good use of interwoven structure. Highly recommended, even if it it is a bit of an oddity, but sometimes the things you don't quite expect are all the better for it.

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    • ParagraphFilms

      Mar 17th 2010, 16:44

      4

      This is pretty much an anti ‘Van Damme’ film; foreign language, with subtitles and genuinely clever & complex subject matter. Van Damme puts on a sensational performance, peaking with a 6-minute long single-cut soliloquy with his heart on his sleeve – which you absolutely do not expect. It’s shot and executed brilliantly, with stylish visuals and editing. People that don’t ‘get it’ will think it’s just a c**p action film, which is no doubt the reason it went straight to DVD. It’s self-indulgent, but it totally blew me away is it was less than 1% what I expected. Damme good viewing!! (Sorry) Score: 7.5/10 http://paragraphfilms.wordpress.com

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