A great performance by Jean-Claude Van Damme. Really.

The “muscles from Brussels,” Jean-Claude Van Damme, is known for his mullet, for his roundhouse kicks, and for bringing John

The “muscles from Brussels,” Jean-Claude Van Damme, is known for his mullet, for his roundhouse kicks, and for bringing John Woo to Hollywood (where Woo’s career quickly fizzled). What JCVD is not known for is his acting. And that’s what makes JCVD, the film, such a wonderful surprise.

Van Damme plays himself: an over-the-hill action star with slowly diminishing prospects. Broken by life, he retreats to Belgium, only to find himself in the middle of a real-life bank robbery. Postmodern high jinks ensue: JCVD is a French film, and French film theorists will find much to talk about. (Being John Malkovich is an obvious reference point.) But JCVD is no stunt; the actor must have known that this kind of performance would work only once, and he delivered something like an exorcism before sinking back into the straight-to-DVD slime. Look for him soon in Universal Soldier III: A New Beginning.

(N.B.: The DVD’s not out until 4/28, but Blockbuster has it now as an exclusive.)

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A great performance by Jean-Claude Van Damme. Really.