Who’s It It: Jean-Claude Van Damme
The Basics: What would happen if Jean-Claude Van Damme were walking along minding his own business and then suddenly a low-rent plot from one of his '80s kickboxing movies started going down all around him? That’s what happens here, as the aging action star plays himself melting down in the middle of a fictional Belgian post-office robbery. He’s taken hostage, then framed for the crime. Will he kickbox his way to victory?
What’s The Deal: The biggest problem with this movie is how it underestimates its own star. This guy is a for-real, black-belted, ballet-trained, kickboxing badass. It’s not like he was some male model who auditioned to become an action star. He can actually lay it down. So it’s kind of a drag that the script has to fake-emasculate him in order to keep the plot going. Bjork can beat the crap out of someone in an airport but the real Jean-Claude Van Damme couldn’t knock a gun out of a robber’s hand? I vote not bloody likely.
Where It Falls In The Hierarchy Of Actors Playing Weird Fictional Versions Of Themselves: Acceptable yet not monumental. Way below Being John Malkovich, Jennifer Grey in the not-well-remembered '90s sitcom It’s Like, You Know or Kate Winslet and Daniel Radcliffe on Extras. In fact, Madonna in that SNL "Wayne’s World" sketch was more entertaining. I think I just talked myself out of liking it the medium-amount I did before I sat down to write this review.
The Importance Of Not Being So Dang Earnest: It’s kind of a dour little movie and not well-written. And I don’t need to see JCVD in a 4th-wall breaking, heartfelt, fantasia-like monologue about how difficult his real life became. MORE KICKBOXING! Or at least more interaction with the other hostages. Maybe they could have asked him why he wasn’t rushing to their rescue like he should have.
Best Trick This Movie Plays On Van Damme’s Diehard Fans: Subtitles! It’s a Belgian movie so the French flies through the air faster than either of Van Damme’s kicking-feet.