From a Hollywood action star to a down-and-out Average Joe trying to survive and get custody of his daughter, not to mention money problems, it cannot get any worse for Jean-Claude Van Damme, (“Bloodsport”) at least until a trip back to his native Belgium, where he is in store for an interesting and unexpected day that even he would wish was a movie instead of reality. “JCVD” brings several laughs and suspenseful moments as Van Damme gives one of his best performances to date. If pouring your heart out and letting your true emotions be exposed to the camera counts for anything, then Van Damme did a hell of a job.
“JCVD” is incredibly entertaining, and keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole way through. The film shows Van Damme as a washed-up, down-on-his-luck actor going through a custody battle, in which his daughter favors staying with her mom. This was one of the more tear-jerking scenes in the film, as you see Van Damme sitting in court, both vulnerable and disappointed in himself.
A trip back to Belgium was entertaining, as Van Damme is idolized and considered a hero. The film takes off when he goes into a post office to receive a wire transfer, begging and pleading with the clerk to get money over to his account. When the clerk refuses to do so, Van Damme gets angry, starts to yell and, before you know it, he realizes he is in a hostage situation. He finds himself acting like a real-life action hero by protecting the hostages, even though the cops think he’s the one robbing the post office.
Van Damme, however, is playing a different kind of hero, and accepts the responsibility for the crimes he did not commit, as well as the mistakes he has made in the past. In “JCVD,” we see who Van Damme really is: Not as an actor, but as a person.
A scene where Van Damme calls up his agent to talk about money woes is extremely comical, especially when his agent tells him that he has been replaced in a movie by (of all people) Steven Segal, and the reason why Segal got the part was because he agreed to cut off his ponytail.
As a fan of Van Damme, you appreciate him more on his performance in this film as opposed to his action flicks from the ‘90s. A major reason is because he is not playing a fictional character – he is playing himself.
In a riveting scene, the camera is put on Van Damme as he pours his heart out and gives the audience a taste of his life before he was a star, how he became one and how he dreamed of being what he was back in Hollywood. The movie being spoken in French gives it a better feel, because it makes the audience feel the emotions that Van Damme is going through more closely.
“JCVD” presents Van Damme as a person, just like anybody else. An interesting scene that generated laughs is one where he was in a cab talking to a driver who loved him, and continued to stress that he was better on-screen as a person as opposed to real life. Another strong scene finds Van Damme talking about several movies he was in, such as “Hard Target” and “Bloodsport,” while being shot at.
Van Damme goes out as a hero to his hometown, as he was being held hostage on his way outside of the post office with a gun to his head, kicking the gunman in the groin and causing him to get taken down by the SWAT team. However, Van Damme was still convicted to a one-year prison sentence due to a corrupt police commissioner.
“JCVD” is a real treat for the average Van Damme fan, despite the lack of splits or jump-kicks. All that light up here are the eyes of everyone in the audience as Van Damme gives the best performance of his career.