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Review: JCVD

Posted on July 19, 2009 by

jcvd

“I’m just a regular guy. It makes me sick to see people… who don’t have what I’ve got. Knowing that they have qualities, too. Much more than I do! It’s not my fault if I was cut out to be a star. I asked for it. I asked for it, really believed in it. When you’re 13, you believe in your dream. Well it came true for me.”

Every time I watch the latest direct-to-DVD dreck starring former washed up action stars, I just laugh then shake my head. Laugh first at the awful acting, plot, special effects, and the fact it’s $5 at Walmart. Then shake my head at the washed-up stars who put whatever is left of their career on the line as the headliner of such horrible films. At least they make a decent amount of money in Asia though.

Jean Claude Van-Damme is such a star. Known for his martial arts skills and action heroism, Van-Damme was once big with hits like “Bloodsport”, “Hard Target” and “Timecop”. But as the action movie craze died down in the late 90’s, Van-Damme and others saw their careers sag. Their only income being those crappy movies I listed earlier.

It was hard to believe when I first found about “JCVD” — a mostly French-language crime film starring Van-Damme as himself: washed-up, old and haggard, and in the midst of losing custody of his daughter. While the movie is pure fiction, what Van-Damme portrays here is mainly his real personality. When caught in a heist at a post office, the real crooks trick the police in thinking Van-Damme is the robber holding people hostage. Instead, the Muscles from Brussels is dragged along for the ride. In a traditional Van-Damme shoot-em-up, he’d be kicking ass and taking names. But as himself, he’s helpless as the other regular people.

The movie is backed by Jean Claude’s finest acting and I mean it. About halfway through, he gives a heartbreaking six minute monologue to the camera that is all heart and no drivel. Again, the movie itself is fictional, but you can’t help but think that Van Damme is pouring his own heart here most of the time. He’s weak and vulnerable.

Watching “JCVD” gave me the same feeling watching “The Wrestler”. While Mickey Rourke was portraying someone washed up and worn out, Van Damme here IS washed up and worn out. In a small fantasy sequence, he imagines taking down the last robber with his traditional moves but instead psuhes himself away and allow the police to take care of it. “JCVD” is a telling tale of a man who dreamed of being star, and did, only to come down back to Earth and pick up the pieces. With great acting performances and some tense scenes, “JCVD” is highly recommended to any action movie fan who wonders about the price and effects of fame.

4 out of 5

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