This is Jean-Claude Van Damme's best movie in years. Not that I'm an expert on Van Damme movies but I'm of course well aware of the reputation of all of his movies and have seen enough of them to know that 90% of them don't ever, in any way, surpasses the level of a B-movie. But there actually is absolutely nothing B-movie like about this movie though, which is part of the reason why it's a pretty enjoyable and good one.

Of course the biggest reason why this movie is so perfectly watchable is because it's a fun and very self aware one. It's more of a parody and comedy than a serious action flick really, in which Jean-Claude Van Damme plays the lead role as himself. And not necessarily just in a comical type of way but also in a very profound and honest one. In a strange way you can say that this movie feels a bit like a biopic as well, were it not for the fact that of course everything in this movie was scripted.

And the movie even features a pretty decent and original story. I was expecting a sort of wrong person, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, type of movie. A "Die Hard" type of action flick so to speak but I was surprised to not only find out that the movie was something completely different but also because of how original it was and how well it worked out. Well, for most part though. The movie does become a bit tiresome after a while, due to the way how the story is told.

With some imagination you can still call this an action flick, even though there really hardly is any action in it and it truly is more of a comedy and even a bit of a heartfelt drama, that however is still shot and directed as a true action movie. It's a real good looking movie, with a pretty good atmosphere and fast paced directing by Mabrouk El Mechri. The story however is still lacking at some points. It feels like the movie and its story still had more potential in it really and instead of being just good, this really could have been a great movie, considering its main premise.

Main problem with the story and the way it is being told, is that it for most part consists out of the same events, that constantly get told from different perspectives. So every time you think that the story is ready to move along, it's moving back again, by telling you the same events all over again, only this time shown from a different perspective. Of course this also helps to move the story forward some times but not at always. Sometimes it comes across as a bit gimmicky and just isn't adding enough to either the story- and character developments. It only distracts, slows the movie down and makes it feel overlong. Even though the actual movie is only 97 minutes short, it feels like it's well over 2 hours long and I was even getting a bit bored with it toward the end.

Still the movie deserves plenty of credit. Even though this obviously wasn't a very expensive movie to make and it got done outside of Hollywood, in Van Damme's native Belgium, it's totally feeling and looking like an expensive and very professional Hollywood production. It of course also deserves plenty of credit for its original concept, even though the execution of it feels somewhat lacking at times.

It also is a movie in which Jean-Claude Van Damme truly has to act, even though he mostly is just playing himself. I'm sure he had plenty of fun with it and it truly is HIS movie, perhaps more so than any other movie that he had done. Now, I won't claim that Van Damme is an outstanding actor in this but it's good to see that he has some more range than just delivering one liners and kicking people's butts. He definitely did a more than capable job!

A perfectly watchable and fun Van Damme movie, even to those we aren't familiar with- or big fans of him and the work he has done in the past.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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