JCVD (Mabrouk El Mechri) 2008

Van Damme is just not having a good time lately: he is losing his child in a custody battle (and who doesn’t like being mocked by her daddy), he doing 2nd rate Euro pics just to make ends meat, and is a figure of mockery.  JCVD goes to Belgium to get away from everything.  The cops show up to a Belgium post office which is being held up by JCVD himself.  But what the cops don’t know is there are a group of criminals holding up the post office and using JCVD to make demands to make those demands more legitimate.

To get it out of the way JCVD is a touching and funny movie.  There are some truly funny scenes like Van Damme going through a strenuous opening shot and arguing to the director he is a 47 year old man and cannot do that crap anymore to which the director says something to the effect of “Yeah he brought John Woo to America, but does he expect to rub my dick with sandpaper?  This isn’t Citizen Kane”.  Or having one of the bank robbers beg Van Damme to do a trick where he kicks a cigarette out of a hostage’s mouth.

The heist storyline lends itself to much humor, however it also kind of hurts the picture.  The movie loses focus in going through all the heist/hostage movie plot themes.  At times it felt like it dragged as we did all the tired cliches of hostage negotiators, sick/injured hostages, and criminal infighting.  The bright spots are the self referential humor of Van Damme and his input.  At times, I almost wished it was a spoken work show where Van Damme just bitched about his life.  Now I’m making it sound like the plot absolutely sucks when it doesn’t.  As I said, it loses focus from time to time, but on the whole it is very touching and funny.  Although, I would like in the Special Edition DVD we can delete all scenes from the “comic relief”/annoying c*nt taxi driver.

I never thought I would say this in my lifetime, but Jean Claude Van Damme gave a wonderful performance.  I know, I am checking for other signs of the end of days.  Although, this is not really “acting” so much as real life bursting out on screen.  We can tell Van Damme is feeling every bit of frustration, sadness, and anger that he shows on screen.  There is also a five minute scene where he gives a monologue about his life to the camera that is one of the best scenes of this year.  He is just so natural and genuine; I really can’t say enough.  One last note: it is really nice he can finally work in his native tongue.  He is so much more confident and natural speaking his own language than grunting out broken English.  It really is night and day here.

The movie has a few minor flaws but they are just that…minor.  At its heart, JCVD is a movie where the man himself is unafraid to mock his own creation but at the same time is a heartfelt plea at a second chance at life.  Check this out when it is on DVD because you sure as hell won’t find it in theaters.


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