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JCVD (2008)
Written by Mabrouk El Mechri, Frédéric Benudis and Christophe Turpin
Directed by Mabrouk El Mechri
Runtime 97 min.
4.5 out of 5

Jean-Claude Van Damme—international movie star.

Jean-Claude Van Damme—the Muscles from Brussels.

Jean-Claude Van Damme—loved by millions

Jean-Claude Van Damme—criminal?

It’s a post office hostage situation and Van Damme is suspected to be the guy running the show. He talks to the cops, tells them what he wants, is alone inside with the hostages—he’s got guilty written all over him.

Except not all is what it seems and Van Damme—hero to all—is having the worst day of his life. Not only did he lose custody of his daughter, he’s broke, has no new movie on the horizon and now he’s getting framed taking a post office with a built-in bank hostage.

I just finished watching this and I’m still soaking it in. I’ve seen most of Van Damme’s movies and JCVD is nothing like any of them. This isn’t an action movie despite it starting that way. This is a drama. Big time, and Van Damme proves here he is way more than just muscles, high kicks, and guns. This Van Damme is raw, brutally honest, caring and just downright human. No eight-foot-tall-and-bullet-proof karate guy here. This is the story about Van Damme the man (he goes by his own name in the movie), one with heart, potent emotion and a performance that should have been nominated for an Oscar. Seriously.

Van Damme’s not listed in the movie’s writing credits, but there’s a point in the movie where he talks to the camera about life, Hollywood, the ups and downs and simply apologizes for the mistakes he’s made in real life to those he knows and to those, like us, he doesn’t. Just phenomenal.

My only little thing was the story seemed to move slowly in parts, but, hey, that could just be me.

And the ending . . . man, it was just perfect. I really liked how they presented it, especially the climatic scene between Van Damme and the bad guys. To go any other way would have completely ruined the movie, but this was handled nicely. Good on them.

The sepia coloring used throughout the film added a wonderful grittiness to it, enhancing the drama and its foreign and rustic atmosphere.

This is a Van Damme movie you’ve never seen before. This is a Van Damme you’ve never seen before.

You need to see this.