JCVD (2008, Mabrouk El Mechri)

A very grey-brown movie (because it’s so “real”) about the “real” Jean-Claude Van Damme (“really” named Jean-Claude Van Varenberg) in his “real” hometown, who gets caught in the middle of a “real” action adventure when “real” thieves are robbing a bank (or is it a post office – I didn’t get that part). Not done mockumentary style (in fact, there are some impressive showoff long-shots), although JC does have a talk-to-the-camera monologue in the middle, where he gets real with his fans.

I’ve got nothing against JC (Steven Seagal, on the other hand…) and could’ve enjoyed this if it was more what I’d expected – a fake-reality situation in which JC kicks some righteous ass while getting real about his career. But after a not-much-happening mistaken-identity hostage situation is shown again and again from multiple perspectives, JC finally does kick a dude… in his imagination! Really he’s saved from the thieves by the cops who then arrest him for extortion, haha! It’s so real. Kind of depressing, really. I’ll take the first ten minutes and leave the rest.

Indy Week: “What could have been a crisp little concept movie (how do you say Phone Booth in French?) is instead a limply paced, murky-looking attempt to state the obvious: that big action stars are not, in fact, invincible.” But Cinema Scope calls it remarkable: “By pitting JCVD the axiom against JCVD the person, JCVD deconstructs and deepens the understanding of both. It is nothing if not a triumph of humanism.”

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