Kicking It With “JCVD!”
Talk about a hairstyle for the ages – this incredible Jean-Claude look always reminds me of his greatest movie: John Woo’s Louisiana bayou thriller “Hard Target!”
My “Cult Movie Monday” would always recommend that action film, but a more recent film by the Actor is also terrific!
“Central to Unit 27. Jean-Claude Van Damme’s robbing a post office. I need back-up!”
Don’t worry, I’ll explain in a moment….I will also explain how I ended up:
Hanging With Jean-Claude In Cannes!
I will tell you all about my time with the legendary action star – many times – in Cannes, but first, here is the already legendary “splits” TV ad with Jean-Claude Van Damme from a few years ago:
Kudos, Mr. Van Damme!
That’s an iconic ad from the “Muscles From Brussels”!
In a career with highs and lows, his 2008 autobiographical film “JCVD” was a revelation!
I was surprised by how good this movie was – I had heard about Jean-Claude’s performance, but never got around to wartching it – and when I did, I was stunned…..First, take a look at the trailer for the great film “JCVD”:
Policier: “Central to Unit 27. Jean-Claude Van Damme’s robbing a post office. I need back-up!”
And with this urgent police call, “JCVD” explodes into action – telling the story of a broken-down Action Star, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Between his tax problems and his legal battle with his wife for the custody of his daughter, these are hard times for the action movie star who finds that even Steven Seagal has pinched a role from him! In “JCVD”, Jean-Claude Van Damme returns to the country of his birth to seek the peace and tranquility he can no longer enjoy in the United States.
But nothing goes as planned…
I won’t share anything else, as the joy of this film is to watch it unfold…The concept for “JCVD” originated with the producer, who had an agreement with Jean-Claude Van Damme to play himself in a movie. In the original screenplay Van Damme was portrayed more as a clown. Mabrouk El Mechri was brought on to rewrite, and was subsequently asked to direct.
Director Mabrouk El Mechri agreed to rewrite the script on the condition he could meet Jean-Claude Van Damme first before starting the draft, so he wouldn’t waste six months on something that Van Damme would veto.
There is a funny scene in a taxi involving Jean-Claude and a cab driver, and whole scene is completely improvised. Mabrouk El Mechri told Jean-Claude Van Damme to just be nice to the driver no matter what she said!
But the real masterstroke in the film takes place about halfway through, when Jean-Claude breaks the fourth wall to speak directly to the audience…it is mesmerizing, and one of the best monologues committed to film…I don’t want to spoil it, but here is a short snippet to give you an idea of the honesty on display:
J.C.V.D.: “This movie is for me. There we are, you and me. Why did you do that? Or why did I do that? You made my dream come true. I asked for it. I promised you something in return and I haven’t delivered yet. You win, I lose. Unless…”
This monologue goes on for several more minutes – no break, one single take – and it is mesmerizing…you can see the real anguish in his face, in his voice…and the real emotion! After you see this scene, you can’t help but root for Jean-Claude to survive!
This is also a fun, twisty action thriller as well – a real return to form for the “Muscle From Brussels”…really worth checking out – I have the blu-ray of the movie…it’s just the latest chapter in a wild ride for the action star…which took him many times to the south of France…
Welcome To The Cannes Film Festival!
Yes, Cannes is a gorgeous city on the French Riviera, where celebrities gather every year to celebrate the world of film…and I would travel each year to cover the festival for E!
George Ellis was on many of these trips – a great friend and even better Photographer.
For many years, my Host was Michael Castner, who Alex points out was always the hardest worker on the team…
Just kidding, Michael – he was terrific to work with, and always got great interviews for us – including this revealing conversation with Jean-Claude at the famed Hotel du Cap…
One year, after a huge Cannes party, I was hanging out with Jean-Claude – since we had covered many Planet Hollywood openings and Cannes festivals, we had become acquainted – and I had just seen his latest movie.
I said to Jean-Claude, congratulations on “Hard Target!” He looked at me and said, “we can do better!” I just smiled but I thought, “no, Jean-Clause, you CAN’T do better than John Woo!” That was, unfortunately, the last time we saw this hairstyle on screen…
But JCVD became an Icon…so kudos on the TV ad, bravo for “JCVD”, and most importantly,
“Welcome Back Jean-Claude!”
Jean-Claude was just one of the many celebrities we got to see in Cannes, and for a few years, we brought our own as well!
Yes, Joan and Melissa Rivers came to the festival to shoot a special “Cannes Fashion Review” and it was a blast!
Click here if you wan to see more of our madcap adventure in the South of France!
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