Jean-Claude Van Damme gets a bad rap. The 90s action star made a name for himself based off his chiseled physique, pretty boy looks and trademark legs splits (somehow, they always worked that shit into practically ever film he’s made) but never has anyone ever praised him for his acting skills. Well, that has all changed thanks to his latest film, which simply goes by his initials JCVD.
Believe it or not but critics, ranging from Entertainment Weekly (“A reality-twisting cousin to Being John Malkovich—showcases a Van Damme who’s sly like a fox about his own image”) to Robert Ebert of the Chicago Tribune (“…It’s very entertaining. And Van Damme proves himself a brave, possibly foolhardy actor, which is more than Steven Seagal ever did”), are praising this as Van Damme’s best work as an actor. So what’s all the hubbub about? Well, the film is actually part spoof, part documentary and part biopic.
In the film, the Muscles from Brussels plays an actor named Jean Claude Van Damme, whose career has been filled with more downs than ups. Hollywood and fans don’t take him seriously as an actor; he’s suffering from tax problems and engaged in a heated legal battle with his estranged wife for custody of their daughter. Feeling hopeless JCVD the character returns to his homeland to escape but somehow winds up in the middle of a bank robbery.
The movie was released overseas first and does include some subtitles (personally, I kinda hate subtitled films) but hit US theatres last Friday in limited release. Although I haven’t seen the film yet, what I like about what I’ve heard so far is the fact that Van Damme was willing to take a risk and make fun of himself. I’m not sure if the writers (Frédéric Bénudis, Mabrouk El Mechri and Christophe Turpin) penned the film with Van Damme’s consent or envisioned him actually playing the lead or not, but I don’t think it would have gotten such rave reviews had he not stepped in to be a part of the project.
I know it’s Jean-Claude but I think if you can find the film playing near you it might be worth a matinee viewing or catching on cable down the line. Peep the official trailer and the hilarious casting scene where Jean-Claude bumrushes the auditions and demands he be a part of the film about his life. I think that’s what sold me.
OFFICIAL U.S. TRAILER
VAN DAMME BUMRUSHING THE AUDITION