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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Film: Jcvd action king invades The Loft

    Film: Jcvd action king invades The Loft

    If there was an Oscar for Best On-Screen Roundhouse Kick, only Chuck Norris would be disappointed to see the honor go to Jean-Claude Van Damme.

    JCVD, the muscles from Brussels, the ass-kickin’ star of more than 30 action films, is no stranger to on-screen violence. He has disposed of nasty ne’er-do-wells using every stunt in the action hero repertoire, from eye-gouging to vehicular manslaughter – but underneath it all lies a regular guy. In JCVD, the genre-bending arthouse thriller from French-Algerian director Mabrouk El Mechri, Van Damme’s on-screen and off-screen worlds collide, and in the aftermath expose an unfamiliar side of action stars.

    Described as “”meta-action,”” which is to say “”a decent thriller with just a tad of artsy pretension,”” JCVD follows the eponymous celeb through a washed-up hero’s lifestyle. After losing custody of his daughter and losing yet another role to that blowhard Steven Seagal, Van Damme (playing himself) returns to his hometown of Brussels, Belgium, where he is still hailed as an icon. While trying to get a wire transfer at a local post office, Van Damme becomes hurled into the middle of a robbery-hostage situation that mistakenly gets pinned on the celebrity by local authorities. Over the next two hours Van Damme must play a kind of hero that he is unaccustomed to: a helpless one. Protecting hostages, negotiating with authorities and taking the fall for the sins of others are but a few of his uncharacteristic roles in this uncharacteristic film, and Van Damme kicks ass at playing these parts as well.

    The film itself is more engaging than most of Van Damme’s legitimate action flicks, opening with a blistering battle scene that puts Timecop to shame. The chemistry between Van Damme’s captors, fellow hostages and fans is dynamic and shows a tender side of a seemingly brutal man, intensified by a touching monologue in the film’s final act. Ultimately, JCVD’s off-center subject matter might be enough to derail longtime Van Damme fans, and unclear subtitles coupled with a distractingly grainy camera filter will disturb even the more artsy audience members. But a great script and great delivery by Van Damme more than redeem the quality problems. Whether you love or hate action movies, check out JCVD ASAP.

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