I was a late 80’s and 90’s kid when it comes to movies. I developed a special place for those movies. Whether they were cheesy teen comedies or hardcore action movies I won’t ever forget them. I especially developed a special place in my heart for a handful of actors. These were the people I considered great stars. There wasn’t any acting because in my head those stars were the same in real life. Those were some bad mothas! They were cooler then cool. My friends and I emulated their every moves. One stood out in particular though and that was Jean-Claude Van Damme.
The reason he stood out so much was because he was filling a huge void back then. Up to that point the only true martial artist I knew was the legendary Bruce Lee. No one ever did a martial arts movies that achieved the level of bada$$ that Lee had. Until Van Damme showed up with Bloodsport and shook up the martial arts film world. He made martial arts look like an art. He made it look like ballet, we never said that then, but it was that smooth! An action star was born and major hits kept coming. He was the action star martial arts needed and the martial artists that action movie fans craved.
Though like all things his time came to an end. Eventually Van Damme was doing action movies that went straight to DVD. The world was changing and martial arts wasn’t hot. Then you add in the fact that Van Damme wasn’t getting better as an actor and the media began to tear him apart. People were calling him crazy for some of the things he said in interviews and it seemed like his life fell apart while he fell from the public eye.
I am a firm believer that in life we all hit a point where we have to face ourselves and accept who we are. While its difficult for the average person to face, it has to be even more difficult when you are world famous and everyone has an opinion about you. I think Van Damme hit that point in his life and decided to share it with the world.
JCVD is a film that even with it’s wild premise never felt more real. In the film Van Damme is caught in the middle of a bank robbery which the police think he is committing. Throughout the film he is broken down mentally in one scene after another. Normally that is fine because it’s an actor playing a role, but here you can’t help but notice that it’s not a character being broken down but it’s him. There were times while watching this film when I was afraid I could never look at Van Damme the same again. He wasn’t that uber bada$$ martial arts star I knew because he was just a man.
Then something happened, something that I will never forget. A monologue that will go down in history as one of the best I have ever heard/seen. Van Damme poured his heart out to me. Yes me. It felt like there were two people in the room, him and I. He spoke and I just listened. I won’t tell you what he said because I think you should let him just tell you himself. Though I will say this… Van Damme is a man. I will never forget it and I will always look up to him for it. He has nothing to be ashamed of.
Jean-Claude Van Damme has entered a new stage in his life, whether or not this translates to a second shot at fame who knows. I don’t think it really matters though. Van Damme said what he wanted to say in this film. JCVD is definitely one of the top films of the year. I would even put it up there with Last Tango In Paris as far as films that blur the line between actor and real person. Hopefully we get a DVD release soon, otherwise it’s available on Amazon UK.