Wednesday, October 23, 2013

JCVD (2008)

JCVDThis is a different type of movie. It is not just a movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme; it is about Jean-Claude Van Damme, with an interesting mixture of fact and fiction. JCVD, after a series of disappointing B-movies and the loss of a custody case with his daughter, returns to Belgium, where he is regarded as a hero. Only he finds himself part of a bank robbery. Using his wits, acting experience and martial arts abilities, he is pushed to the limit as he seeks to survive this harrowing experience--trying to save his own life and that of his fellow captives as well.

The movie offers a glimpse into the darker side of Hollywood fame. There is little glitz and glamour here as we see the aging star, both broke and broken. If anyone ever thought that he was simply a pretty boy with some cool martial arts skills, they are wrong. Van Damme demonstrates in this movie that he can act in dramatic parts as well. As much as I like Bloodsport, this is the best movie he has ever made.

The blu-ray transfer is adequate, but not stellar. The entire movie is cast in a sepia tint that gives it an aged, washed-out look. The quality is not much different than an upconverted DVD. So if you already own the DVD and are considering an upgrade to blu-ray, you are probably fine staying with the DVD.

Parental Advisory: This movie features an extended fighting sequence (which turns out to be a scene being filmed in a movie). A man is shot in one scene, and there are other scenes where hostages are under duress. The movie contains some profanity, including the F-word (sometimes in French). There is discussion involving past drug addiction. In one scene that takes place in a video store, apparently the covers of some racy films are visible (I did not notice this, but my wife did). The movie is rated-R, but with some minor changes it could have been PG-13. Most parents would probably be fine with their teenagers seeing it, but not their smaller children.

In summary, I recommend this movie. It is a different type of role for JCVD, and that is a good thing. It will be interesting to see where he goes from here. Hopefully, not just more movies like The Expdendables 2.

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