Dec 5, 2008


The hype is a mean mustered force, The man is an international legend, and the film is a stunning character revelation. JCVD shattered my thoughts when I read about a film expressing the life and perils of a failing actor. Bruce Campbell demanded respect with his novel If Chins Could Kill, now Jean-Claude Van Damme demands your attention in what might be the single greatest action-turned-melodrama film of the century.

Jean-Claude Van Damme walks into a post office. Before you think this is the intro to a dirty joke, be wary of the creeping events soon to follow. With nothing to lose, the robbers decide to fashion Van Damme as the perpetrator of the heist. The sadness that permeates from Van Damme's emotions is at least conturbing. The tribulations he faces are more so than the average citizen can account for. Pieced from a satire, and rudimentary in nature, JCVD marks the rebirth of an action star into something more.

A film of this magnitude is a fly trap for harsh criticism. While many choose to defy a film to "rebel" against popular vote, the lure of this film could prove to be a powerful magnet. Festival favorite Let the Right One In contains a similar amount of hype. On my first (and only) attempt to view it, I found the 2 hour+ run time intimidating at 3 am. That, and the film bored me beyond death. The lack of visual entertainment actually brought about a craving of anything - even an Olaf Ittenbach film. JCVD is tear-inducing and visually brilliant, using a popular grain look to accentuate his homeland of Belgium.

Many stabs are made at John Woo throughout the film, particularly on Hard Target although Face/Off is brought up. Steven Segal/Jean-Claude Van Damme rivalries are brought up in a humorous spectacle of a hint of the muscle-bound rat race to scripts involving combat. I'm just glad he "agreed to cut the ponytail". Excellent cinematography grants the film wings. This, and the amazing Vantage Point perspectives put to work in order to explain the entire happenings.

JCVD is an earnest tale of a hypothetical breakdown of an actor that has never been analyzed as important, but he definitely is. He not only brought John Woo to Hollywood but gave his hometown people something to be proud of. An icon and a hero; JCVD is more important than you'd give the chance to believe. For a truly exceptional scene, his monologue epiphany left me absolutely speechless. Inspirational to the core, I couldn't have been more satisfied with this film.



Unknown said...

The more I read SS the more I realize there are gems hidden under rubbish. I need to see this, I've always been a JCVD fan

Soiled Sinema said...

Another of JCVD's films that broke the repetition was his Jailhouse rock film, In Hell.


Anonymous said...

This film finally opened near me. I hope to catch it this weekend. Your review has made me want to see it even more!

mike roman said...

this sort of film has more thinking and action behind it than any of your transporters or quantums of shit put together. everything about it, van damme's superb performance, a tour de force playing 'himself', the camerawork, the score, the story, the running time... for once (like brian dennhey said when he collaborated in 'belly of an architect') van damme has contributed to cinema, and not just 'movie-filmdom'. wonderful stuff. the stuff redemption is made of, and let's face it JCVD has a bit of redeeming to do. i wonder if seagull will be next. could you see master steven, the self proclaimed buddha lama, doing something like this?? hats off to el-mechri for coaxing it out of him. will be interesting to see if it was all a ploy (the ultimate vanity project) and what VD does next. thanks for the site! rock on!

Shaft said...

I seriously pity the fools who hadn't seen this. It's truly, without a doubt, Van Damme at his damn best. And judging from this, his best is really something to behold.

We need more films like this.