Directed by Mabrouk El Mechri
A forgotten action hero makes a comeback playing himself.
It turns out that Jean-Claude Van Damme is “not just a set of glistening pectorals,” said Bernard Besserglik in The Hollywood Reporter. The martial arts action hero, who rose to and fell from fame during the 1990s, unveils a startlingly human side in the seriocomic biopic JCVD. Van Damme, playing himself, returns to Brussels as a personal and professional failure. At the post office one day, he finds himself at the center of a hostage crisis and is forced to become the hero he only pretended to be in movies. As Van Damme willingly makes “his public persona the butt of the joke,” he comes off as achingly vulnerable. In one arresting sequence, Van Damme launches into a six-and-a-half-minute confession and eventually bursts into tears, said J. Hoberman in The Village Voice. Director Mabrouk El Mechri often combines self-parody with self-pity, leaving the audience to wonder whether to laugh or give the poor guy a hug. JCVD is a realistic portrait of a washed-up star and therefore “part parody, part exposé, part justification,” said Richard Corliss in Time. It’s honest, true, and by far the “best movie Van Damme ever made.”
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Stop making fun of philosophy and read some philosophy
- Sorry, we will not all be having sex with robots in the future
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- How to live a long life, according to science
- Beware of Splenda: The backlash against artificial sugars
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The real lesson of the looming Martha Coakley disaster
Subscribe to the Week