JCVD

"OK"

JCVD Review


Pity Steven Seagal couldn't ever make a movie like this. Not just because his initials would have caused the movie to be called "SS" -- not the most desirable title -- but because the ponytailed one is ultimately not half the actor that Jean Claude Van Damme is. Also, Seagal's karate is a joke.

The kicker of a conceit behind Mabrouk El Mechri's meta-action drama JCVD is that Van Damme plays himself, an aging action star whose life is already falling apart before he gets pulled into his own action film. The muscles from Brussels is back in his home town, just trying to get his life together. A custody proceeding back in California is sucking the life out of him and his career is in the toilet. Approaching 50 years old, the Van Damme of the film is still recognized everywhere he goes -- certain brands of action heroes have a shelf life that outlasts the release dates of their more popular films by at least a decade, it seems -- but that isn't translating into enough lucre to pay off the ex-wife. So Van Damme finds himself running around trying to get a money transfer and ends up at the one post office in Brussels where a robbery and hostage situation is taking place.

Police flood the neighborhood, and mistakenly believe that Van Damme himself is behind the holdup. Unbeknownst to the hostage negotiators and SWAT team grouped outside, Van Damme is a prisoner as well, sitting there in cold sweat like all the others, doing his best to charm the hostage takers (teaching a few karate moves works wonders) in between having flashbacks about his recent miseries. Outside, the crowds wave signs and cheer for their guy. Villain or hero, the gathered throng cares not.

El Mechri has enough of a sense of humor to keep things moving, giving Van Damme the occasional ribbing (one scene has him listening to his agent tell him that a part he was gunning for was given to Seagal, several others knowingly reference Van Damme's infamous rambling TV interviews). The director is also perfectly happy to bust the fourth wall, such as in one tense scene in the post office which is put on hold so that Van Damme can be lifted up through the ceiling up amongst the light rigging so that he can deliver a monologue on his sad life (living the high life, drugs, the inevitable crash, neglect) directly to the screen.

Van Damme does more than a credible job here; it can be surprisingly hard for actors to convincingly play themselves. Though it would be overstating the case to say that Van Damme is ready to be considered an actor who could hold his own in a serious drama, his performance has enough echoes of the lost-it-all pathos exhibited by Mickey Rourke in this year's The Wrestler to give one pause.

But even with a smart concept and playful humor, JCVD runs out of juice before its conclusion. The fault lies not with Van Damme, but rather with the screenplay. Written by El Mechri, along with Frédéric Bénudis and Christophe Turpin, the screenplay strands its characters for long stretches in which they have to repeat themselves time and again to dwindling effect. This is a film that certainly deserves credit for its willingness to play with the rules and throw a few conceptual curveballs at audiences (whether arthouse or action) who aren't going to know what to expect. But in the end it's just not enough.

There goes the Peugeot.



JCVD

Facts and Figures

Run time: 97 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 4th June 2008

Box Office USA: $0.4M

Box Office Worldwide: $276.9 thousand

Budget: $6M

Distributed by: Peach Arch Entertainment/Vitagraph Films

Production compaines: Gaumont, Samsa Film, Artémis Productions, Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF), Bankable, La Sofica Cofinova 4, Canal+, CinéCinéma, Film Fund Luxembourg, Cofinova 4

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Fresh: 85 Rotten: 17

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Mabrouk El Mechri

Producer: Sidonie Dumas

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme as J.C.V.D., François Damiens as Bruges, Zinedine Soualem as L'homme au bonnet, as Le vigile, Jean-François Wolff as Le trentenaire, Anne Paulicevich as La guichetière, John Flanders as Avocat ex-Femme, Janine Horsburgh as Assistante JCVD

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.