By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
I think this may be the first ever documented case of triple Van Dammage. Van Dammage is the number of characters Jean-Claude Van Damme plays in a movie. He's been twins, clones and even past and future selves, but never three in one.
JCVD opens with Van Damme performing in an action movie. Then he plays the real Jean-Claude Van Damme, but takes a metaphysical break to play the Jean-Claude Van Damme persona. Triple Van Dammage!
This is like a French new wave film. It's pseudo-realism, breaking the fourth wall. Maybe not quite as outrageous as Godard but hell, he could never kick a cigarette out of a dude's mouth.
As the down and out action star fights for custody of his daughter, scraping by funds from low budget action movies to pay his lawyer, he gets caught up in a hostage drama at the post office. Even the gunmen are fans of Van Damme so they want a piece of his fame too.
Talking about action movie stereotypes makes me giggle. Van Damme analyzing the scam of straight to video movies is pretty revealing about the state of his career. Making fun of John Woo is not totally unfounded. However, this would not be the first time Steven Seagal cut off his pony tail. He did it for military accuracy in Under Siege. Still, that's a cute joke.
The film probably makes Van Damme more innocent than he really is but it also shows him vulnerable. In his poetic soliloquy, he really acts. Just hearing him speak his own language makes a big difference.
The out of order narrative really works. It fills in information at just the right time. As hostage dramas go, including a celebrity is a fascinating twist.
Maybe the fandom portrayed in this movie isn't quite the level Van Damme still attains, but maybe it is. Heck, if I ever saw him I'd run after him and geek out over Universal Soldier.