Monday, November 24, 2008

At the Movies: JCVD

Not to be out movie snobbed by East Coast elitists, yesterday I walked the 2 blocks to The Ken, the coolest/most obscure art house theater in San Diego (did I mention it's only 2 blocks from my house? Man, I'm cool!), to watch JCVD, the new movie about and starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. In the film, the Muscles from Brussels is having a rough time. He's broke, losing custody of his daughter, and unable to find a decent movie in which to kick ass and take names because Steven Segal keeps stealing all the roles. When he gets mixed up in a post office robbery, life really begins to suck.

JCVD is like a distant cousin to Being John Malkovich, in that a famous actor plays himself for real and for parody. It's funny and sad, looks cool, and puts a new spin on the old heist plotline. Really though, the word to best describe the film is weird. Not like Spike Jonze weird, but weird because it's Belgian (and Belgian is basically like French and any decent film snob knows French = Weird) and weird because Van Damme is so damn (ha!) good. I've never seen Van Damme in anything other than the episode of Friends where Monica and Rachel flirt with him, but I never imagined he could actually act. I just thought he kicked people in the face a lot, but Jean-Claude is good in this film, heartbreaking even. I gained a new respect for him as an actor and as a person.

JCVD is not as funny as I expected or as original, but it is interesting to see someone with such a specific public persona turn that perception on it's head. Check out JCVD (if you can. It will probably be difficult to catch in theaters) and see a softer side of The Muscles.

Oh yeah. The movie is mostly in French. Deal.

12 comments:

Del-V said...

I don't speak French. I'll have to wait for the American "remake" of it.

Liz said...

Look at us, getting all "indie" "film." We're so cool!

Poobomber said...

I'd watch it if it starred Dane Cook instead. He at least looks a little like him.

McGone said...

For weeks now I've been reading about this and inevitably everybody ends up using a form of the same line "Seriously, Van Damme is actually good in this." He must be having some very contradictory feelings when he reads these reviews.

The one Van Damme movie I kind of sort of like* ("Timecop") contains a single moment where I turn to whoever is with me at the time and say "That was it! That was the moment where Van Damme acts! Did you see it?"


*But the reason for liking this movie belongs to Ron Silver, chewing the scenery like never before.

Dr Zibbs said...

I've been wanting to see this.

pistols at dawn said...

I still can't believe how many positive reviews of this movie I've heard. What's next, a good performance from Travolta or Nic Cage?

words words words said...

Wow, I have never heard of this movie and wouldn't have expected something like this from Van Damme. But seriously, those backhanded compliments about "wow, he's...good" must be pissing him off. It's like how people from other countries congratulated us for electing Obama.

I also recommend Timecop as the most watchable Van Damme movie. It's not good, but it's not terrible.

Garney said...

I miss The Ken

danielle970 said...

Liz and Red, I like that I can rely on you guys for movie (and song) reviews. Thank you for seeing all of these films first so that I know whether they're worth it.

And yes, California rolls are for pussies. No apology necessary, Red.

Liz said...

In Timecop, does Van Damme play a killer robot driving instructor who goes back in time for some reason? Because that's what I'm picturing.

words words words said...

Liz - Yes, and there is also a talking pie.

Liz said...

You got the reference, WWW :)