Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal

Rated: R 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: February 20, 2009 Released by: Rch Entertainment

A humanistic mockumentary of sorts on the life and persona of action star Jean-Claude Van Damme might take the actor on a new path to success.

In JCVD (in English and French with subtitles), the "Muscles from Brussels" is depicted in a more humorous, vulnerable light. The crestfallen middle-aged actor plays a man just like him with the same name. Life is rather bleak when it comes to finances and trying to gain custody of his daughter. He's even losing out to the likes of Steven Seagal on a so-so part.

This fractured, twisted biopic of sorts has the pensive protagonist coming back to Belgium and accidentally dropping in on a bank heist. Director Mabrouk El Mechri doesn't stage it all with a modern, incisive flair, but provides bold, capricious observation. It blossoms in a way similar to the ambitious Synecdoche, New York, without a mind-blowing complex to it.

Mindful to the possibility of Van Damme as a character actor, the frenetic drollness comes to fruition in an interesting way. For someone who kicked and punched his way high up the ladder, working with the likes of John Woo in Hard Target, there's something more lucid than leering when he addresses the audience during one of its edgier, effective moments.

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JCVD        B                  B 

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