Wednesday, April 20, 2011


My Rating: 7/10

I am going to freak out my readers by saying this is a Jean Claude Van Damme movie that was really good and that everyone should see. The man can act.  

It was pretty damned excellent. I think it has a 7.3 on IMDB, IIRC, and the only reason it's not higher than that is because a bunch of moronic JCVD fans keep voting it 1's because it wasn't the kind of movie they wanted (Cheesy martial arts action). It is an actual, real, authentic serious movie. :o

In JCVD, JCVD plays himself - An aging, washed-up action hero star forced into progressively lower and lower budget movies that have killed his career, while trying to recover from drug abuse and fighting a losing legal battle with his ex-wife for custody of their daughter. He returns to Belgium to recuperate a bit, and ends up in a post office during a robbery (FWIW, post offices in France & Belgium are alike in this - They are banks as well, and can offer checking and savings accounts, loans, etc). Due to a misunderstanding, the police outside believe JCVD himself is running the robbery, while he is stuck indoors with the hostages and three pretty unbalanced criminals who have just seen their perfect plan go up in flames.

This is the point where a typical JCVD movie would have him crawling into the ductwork and roundhouse-kicking lots of bad guys a la Die Hard. The difference here is that it's played exactly like real life - No superhumans, no giant kung fu battles, etc. JCVD is exhausted and stressed and jet lagged, and sane enough to realize that if he tries anything heroic, he's almost certain to get an innocent hostage shot. The movie then becomes, "What can a normal, real life guy do in such a situation to keep the hostages alive?" He is not at all a superhero - In fact, he's pretty much a freaked out loser - but tries to find ways to use his celebrity status to help out. One of the criminals worships him and loves his films, another is coming unglued because he's supposed to be in charge, and the third is a chillingly-acted psychopath.

The violence in the movie is realistic, not martial arts flick. It's a bit like a modern version of Dog Day Afternoon that happens to have this movie actor dropped into the storyline. Definitely worth seeing.  

Suggested Accompaniment:  It's a pretty rough and raw film, so I'd recommend the same for libations.  In fact, it's hard to pin down... Not really a popcorn film, but not a cheap beer movie either.  I think I'll go with some sort of Leffe beer, if you can get it, and some sort of very ragged sandblast pipe - Something with a lot of hard-worn character, coupled with a very potent Latakia tobacco.  Bring your Old Ironsides and Pirate Kake to this one, folks.