Fantastic Fest

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I wear my devotion to Van Damme... on my Damn Van!

One of my favorite movies I saw this year was JCVD at the Cannes Film Festival. I wanted to program the film for Fantastic Fest so badly that the night of that screening, I made a drunken pledge to make right with the karma controllers by making a symbolic offering. Our mid-1990s Maroon shag carpeted conversion van will now be sporting a new, tougher tag. The Gods must have been satisfied, because our friends at Peace Arch granted our request to included JCVD as an official selection to Fantastic Fest. If I get the van air-brushed with a JCVD flying kick to the face, do you think that will be enough to bring the master himself to town for the screening? Only one way to find out.

Below is my review of the film from the Fantastic Fest program guide. Seriously folks, try to catch this one. It's a blast! Fantastic Fest runs from September 18-25 in Austin, Texas.

directed by Mabrouk El Mechri 2008

In JCVD, Jean-Claude Van Damme portrays a washed-up, aging action star. His career is a joke, he loses all of even the meager straight-to-video roles to his nemesis Stephen Segal and he's in a custody battle for his daughter who is too embarrassed of her father to consider living with him.

Returning to Brussels, he pops into a post office to send a money order to his divorce lawyer in Los Angeles only to find the facility held siege by robbers. The absurdity of the situation gradually escalates, and our action hero star must decide – cooperate or save the day in true hero fashion!

In a word, this role choice for Jean Claude Van Damme is BOLD. He’s faced ninjas, wild animals, space aliens and multiple arenas of death, but in JCVD he’s confronted with the naked truth of his own career: z-grade roles, worldwide ridicule, drug addiction, bad haircuts and some truly inspired wacko TV interviews, many of which are replayed in the film. The wickedly crisp script realistically captures the comedy inherent in the day-to-day life of a superstar: autograph and picture hounds, mocking haters and delusional überfans. Through it all Jean Claude Van Damme delivers with a sly wit and assured demeanor that for much of the film, I forgot I was watching a work of fiction, but was lost in what surely had to be a Jean Claude Van Damme reality show.

He understands the humor associated with his career, acknowledges it, pokes more than gentle fun at himself and even waxes philosophic on his past and his future. What emerges is a sophisticated, intelligent and wildly comedic performance. This is the stuff of true career renaissance. Forget about Pam Greer’s potential resurgence after Jackie Brown. After this performance, Jean Claude Van Damme deserves a shot at the best roles in Hollywood!

I watched JCVD at this year’s Cannes Market and the excitement in the crowd was palpable. Market screenings are for the industry worker-bees, you can’t gauge an audience because they are either asleep from exhaustion or texting on multiple blackberries trying to seal the next deal. Not so with JCVD. The crowd laughed and cheered and actually stood to applaud at the end. And when the man himself popped up from a seat in the back of the theater, clearly proud of the chops he had just shown on screen, the audience went absolutely nuts.

Van Damme? God Damn! This movie is AWESOME! Support this film, write about this film, and most importantly watch this film when it comes out in theaters. If for no other reason, I personally want to see more comedic drama out of, who woulda thunk it, one of the most underrated thespians working in cinema today!


  • At 7:30 AM , Blogger Freddie said...

    "Druken pledge"? Wonder how many times you've done that. Zing!

  • At 9:27 AM , Blogger Oh, Steph said...

    Damnit, Tim League, you are my hero.

  • At 12:11 AM , Anonymous Paul A-D said...

    I bow to you and your awesome new plates! (And I'm dying to see JCVD.)


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