What movie was that...?

27 January 2010


directed by Mabrouk El Mechri

As I sat here, thinking of my next review, I thought of an amazing film I watched last year, but I disregarded it instantly because I assumed that I had already sang its praises. After further investigation, however, I realized that I had not paid proper respect to Mabrouk El Mechri’s fantastic action drama, JCVD. For shame, BC, and I apologize to you all. And especially to you, Mr. Jean Claude Van Damme. From the amazing, ultra long and ultra sweet opening take to the surreal caesura to the excellent ending, JCVD is Van Damme’s finest performance, hands down. Perhaps it’s because the Belgian actor gets to speak in his native tongue (look out, there’s subtitles), and maybe it’s because he’s playing himself in the sort of factual, sort of fictional, all the way awesome story of an aging martial arts star going through a divorce, out of work and out of money. The Muscles from Brussels is on his way home when he stops in a post office slash bank to wire some cash to his lawyer, which proves to be a big mistake. The bank is being robbed by a group of fuck up criminals who use Van Damme’s celebrity to their advantage. I will say no more about the story, but I will regale the story of my going to see this film when it opened. Excited and wide eyed, I got to the theatre early on opening night (to avoid the inevitable crowd) and paid for my ticket. I noticed, however, that the art theatre was emptier than usual, so I made my way to the concession stand. As I was ordering, the manager walked over and asked if was, in fact, going to see JCVD. Of course, I answered, I couldn’t wait to see this film and I was so excited when I found out this film was coming to this theatre and I wanted to avoid the crowds and- the manager interrupted me to tell me that no one had been coming to see this film all day, and he didn’t expect anyone to come to this particular show, either. I must have looked like he just told me that Santa didn’t exist, because he walked to his little office and returned with a JCVD one sheet for me. Take it, he said.
He was right, by the way. No one else showed up. What a tragedy. But I have displayed my JCVD poster prominently in my living room ever since, in between my RIZE one sheet and my Dark Knight one sheet where Joker is writing “Why so serious?” on fogged glass. Excellent.

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