JCVD (2008)

DailyView: Day 344, Movie 491

Earlier this week, I was watching the latest Top Ten Show with John Rocha and Matt Knost. This week’s topic was “Top 10 films that break the fourth wall.” It was an interesting and original topic, and I had known most of the films that were mentioned, but then Matt mentioned a film called JCVD. I was not sure what he had said, but John reacted in anger since he had forgotten to include the film, which he said he loved.

I tried to figure out what the film was and I finally figured it out. Jean-Claude van Damme’s initials.

I searched up the movie and found it on Amazon Prime.

In JCVD, van Damme played a fictional version of himself, who had lost most of his money, was involved in a terrible custody dispute over his daughter, kept losing film roles to Steven Segal and returned home to Brussels, where he was still considered a hero.

Desperate for a money, van Damme went to a local bank for a wire transfer from his agent. Unfortunately for Jean-Claude, he stumbled into the middle of a bank robbery in progress. Jean-Claude’s luck was only going to get worse.

When an accidental gunshot goes off, the police arrive at the bank, setting up a hostage situation. They spy Jean-Claude inside the bank and they mistakenly think that he was one of the bank robbers.

I am not a fan of Jean-Claude van Damme and his film catalog, but I thought he was fantastic here. It was the best performance I have seen from him. The character is very self-deprecating, making van Damme the butt of most of the jokes. It is ironic that his best character ever was a version of himself.

The film is extremely funny, but is based in the troubles of the characters. And not only the character of van Damme, but the bank robbers, the police and the other hostages.

The story is told in a disjointed narrative as we start out in the bank with a situation that was confusing. The film flashed back several times to show what had happened and how we arrived at where we were. The writing is very clever and well constructed.

It does feature a six minute monologue with Jean-Claude speaking directly to the camera and breaking the fourth wall in an emotional diatribe. It has to be some of the best acting of his career.

This is unlike any Jean-Claude van Damme film I have ever seen and I found it to be completely charming and wonderfully entertaining. It was mostly in French (though there are some moments where English is used), but I was not opposed to the subtitles (avoid the voice overs always!). I am very grateful to Matt Knost for including it on his list.

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