Editors note: during Phase 1 of Movie Geeks Film News we were lucky enough to have occasional contributions from our friend, Ant. Now, Ant is a busy guy so getting him to commit to a regular “thing” on mgfn.co.uk would be a challenge, but what follows is a guest post about something dear to his heart. JCVD. Enjoy.
One of the joys of having an older brother and being an 1980s child was that I got to watch a lot of films that were totally inappropriate for me and also were absolutely amazing. The Untouchables, Remo : Armed and Dangerous and Commando were firm favourites.
However one night whilst my brother was babysitting (and I use this term exceptionally loosely) we watched Bloodsport. I was about 8 at the time. My brother had seen the films we watched together and used to shield my eyes from really nasty moments, in retrospect that probably made the love and intrigue that much greater. I knew I was missing something, but Mat had deemed it too brutal for my little brain.
This set off a chain of film viewing so inspiring, so brilliant that I recommend you take a day to try this out for yourself.
All of the films I am about to talk about feature the legend that is Jean Claude Van Damme. The Muscles from Brussels. The Belgian Bruce Lee. My all time number one action hero.
Why the love of JCVD? Simple. Because his films are ridiculously masculine and also borderline feminine at the same time. His mix of martial arts and Lycra, with sweeping 80s soundtracks is something very unique in films. I know what I am seeing is terribly acted, terribly scripted and makes no sense, but when it all kicks off, you root for the fruity Belgian. And boy does he deliver.
So I shall ease you in with the most accessible (do not take that to mean good) of the back catalogue. Hard Target directed by John Woo.
John Woo is a Hong Kong Legend. Hard Boiled is one of the best examples of Asian Cinema and made Chow Yun Fat an international superstar. Go watch it. It will improve your life.
The same can be said of Hard Target. But in an entirely different way. Here JCVD is a tramp or a sailor or something who wanders around New Orleans aimlessly. That is until a woman in a cafe, talks to him about her missing father. Then JCVD takes it upon himself for no discernible reason (the plot says something about him having to pay to work on a ship or something) to help this woman unravel the mystery.
What follows is probably the most ridiculous of all JCVDs films. At one point he’s riding a horse for no actual reason. At another there’s an extended slow motion sequence of him jumping onto a car roof with guns in his hands (he doesn’t shoot until he lands). And a finale set it a carnival float factory filled with explosives. I genuinely have seen this film multiple times. I still can’t piece together what the hell links these things together. It’s an absolute Gem.
Next up is Kickboxer in which JCVD plays himself as the brought up in Europe (belgium is too specific) brother of the guy who played AC Slater in Saved by The Bell. Who is american, and looks nothing like him.
AC slater gets paralysed in a kickboxing ring by some dude from the Mortal Kombat games, who kicks pillars and posts to harden his shins. The scene is the hospital after this is Oscar worthy.
JCVD makes friends, super quickly with a Vietnam vet and then unleashes a beautifully delivered (!) monologue about how he is going to make him pay for what he has done. Vietnam vet dude gets all emotional, despite his friendship with JCVD only having been established two minutes prior and agrees to help him.
Again, beyond this I have no idea about what is going on but JCVD starts training with some Thai (japanese / chinese) man, bangs his daughter, hears voices in a Tai Chi session at a temple and then eventually fights mortal kombat dude in a tomb (in a ring, naturally). The end. It’s so good there’s a sequel.
Again grade a nonsense with a lot of really over the top action sequences that seem forced into the film, it also possesses the greatest dance / martial arts scene I have ever been blessed to see.I love it.
But not as much as I love Bloodsport. This film is as close to a ridiculous beat em up game as you will ever see. JCVD wants to be the best fighter in the world. His friend who is stupid, gets beaten up by a massive Korean fella, JCVD vows revenge. And Forrest Whittaker is in it.
It has flash back sequences that are incredible. It has lots of JCVD doing the splits in various places (on chairs and on top of a roof are my personal favourites) and it finishes with JCVD fighting Korean fella, whilst being blinded by dust. It’s a masterclass in delivering a 12 year old boys idea of an action film.
And that’s why JCVD is so perfect. He is what every child wants to be. A martial arts expert with an eye on the ladies and great hair.
If Netflix pays JCVD for every time one of his films is watched I personally must have kept JCVD in Coors light over the last month.
Please support the cause and get watching some of the JCVD masterpieces that are available. He may even personally thank you, probably.