If you're one of the five people on the Internet who have yet to watch Jean-Claude Van Damme's "Epic Split" ad for Volvo Trucks, skip to the end of this post and we'll meet back here when you're done.
October 5th marked the 35th birthday of Chechnya's president, Ramzan Kadyrov, who was installed into office at age 30, three years after his father's assassination. Ramzan wanted celebrities at his party, and what Ramzan wants, Ramzan gets. So Hilary Swank, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Seal collected their checks, hopped a flight to Grozny, and got cozy with Ramzy!
Jean-Claude Van Damme has always expressed himself by using the, how you say, the kicking? The kicking and the doing the splits? But now that he has the weirdly thoughtful meta-meditation JCVD in the offing, the Muscles from Brussels has been making the American press rounds, attempting to beat the English language into submission like it was Dolph Lundgren's high-cheekboned, Aryan face. We've already enjoyed the actor's "fruit-opening" secret to acting, but let's all marinate in his latest, greatest interview (with BlackBook) and attempt to figure out just what the hell he's saying. Join us, won't you?
We weren't kidding when we presaged a renaissance for Jean-Claude Van Damme, whose Cannes hit JCVD — an indie satire featuring the action star as a forlorn, tormented version of his once ass-kicking self — is drawing high praise ahead of its limited US release this weekend. Eighty percent of critics at Rotten Tomatoes are behind it, but frankly, as they're part of the reason Van Damme was ever a punchline in the first place: To hell with them. A new pair of interviews with the Phoenix of Belgium sums up all you need to know about a comeback that makes Mickey Rourke's look puny in comparison.After all, Rourke — an Oscar frontrunner for his turn in The Wrestler — once grazed on Hollywood's A-list pasture, from which banishment amounted to losing an opportunity that genre hero Van Damme never really had. He's still technically in the action ghetto, by most estimations, but he told Details that he exceeded his Timecop-era chops by just skipping the "acting" part altogether:
Though the French have a knack for embracing the most embarrassing elements of American culture, not even Jerry Lewis could have prepared us for JCVD, the shockingly acclaimed Cannes sensation featuring washed-up action star Jean-Claude Van Damme. A postmodern drama that stars the Muscles from Brussels as himself, we've brought you the awkward teaser trailer (wherein Van Damme stumbles upon a JCVD casting call, then argues for a more believable character motivation: cocaine) and now we're happy to announce that Peace Arch Entertainment has picked the film up for U.S. distribution. There's just one problem:...namely, Peace Arch kind of sucks. Though they occasionally give halfhearted, unprofitable releases to Sundance duds like Chapter 27 and The Go-Getter, they're far more adept at putting out straight-to-DVD titles like the Tom Green snowboard comedy Shred and something called American Poop (unrated edition!). We'd trust them to release a Lou Diamond Phillips actioner, but JCVD isn't that run of the mill. Just check out this excerpt from Variety's review:
If Charlie Kaufman were approached to reignite the long-stalled career of Belgian action hero and gameshow-erection-haver Jean-Claude Van Damme, it might come off a lot like J.C.V.D.. In it, he's called upon to play a loose version of his own, frequently maligned persona—blow-Hoovering warts and all—and the turn has been described as everything from "subtle, funny, and capable of self-deprecation" to "not only touching, but troubling and moving too." And those are quotes from real critics—not Van Damme himself! We've included a pivotal scene above, in which real J.C. plays movie-J.C., discussing the factual accuracy of the character of movie-within-a-movie J.C. on the set of a J.C. biopic. Not mindfucked enough yet? Well, what if we told you that a secret portal at the back of the ladies sportswear department of Les Galeries Lafayette allows the traveler to view the world through Van Damme's eyes, before being unceremoniously dumped somewhere along the Port of Antwerp? (Just kidding. We don't want to see that end up on some J.C.V.D. synopsis on IMDb.)