JCVD & Double Team

Ner. Wer spa ton.


Jean‑Claude Van Damme may only have one good scene, but it's a good scene.
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Reported on 21st of November, 2008

I have a rule. I actually have many, but this is a very important one. If there’s a new snack on the market, I have to try it. Pizza Ruffles – check (this was more than just snack irony; I actually miss those little guys). Gummi fried eggs that taste like eggs – check. Doritos flavor X-13D (I’m not kidding about this; Doritos released a corn chip in a black bag called X-13D, as a gimmick to promote their experimental flavor. No one bought it [except me, see “I have a rule” above]; it tastes like pickles left in the sun too long. Je ne regrette rien) – check.

If we get into wars by being too polite, it could certainly lead to art. Or at least wars about art.

The Nuart is conveniently located across from a heavily trafficked 7-11, so I was delighted to find the latest novelty – Takis, which are basically corn chips rolled in the shape of taquito. Being as blanca as can be, I went with Crunchy Fajita flavor, since I didn’t know what Fuego flavor was. But when I go back, I’ll try those.

They were fine I guess, filling and bizarre, but what would my life be if I had never I tasted them?

Luckily the night had more in store for me: I crossed Santa Monica to the theatre and saw this:

From the collection of the Unknown Patron

From the collection of the Unknown Patron

Now we’re all supposed to love outsider art, at least we were in 1988, but this was what looked like fan art, for a movie about a movie star who has to deal with crazed fans. Thank God I’m a journalist now (it’s strange the legitimacy even fake journalism can imbue you with), so as soon as I saw the poster, the normal fear of everyday human interaction disappeared, and I found myself standing in front of the manager asking with no shame whatsoever:

“That poster; it’s really cool. Who made it?”

“It was, um, commissioned.”

“Commissioned. Who painted it?”

“It was commissioned by a member of the staff.”

At which point he was silent, having revealed nothing. He looked off to the side, as if I had just discovered that his family still owned slaves.

“And that’s all you have to say on the subject.”

“And that’s all I have to say on the subject.”

And that should explain why I’m not a real journalist.

They even advertise Coca-Cola on the ticket.

Still, a very enjoyable exchange. The story that led to the painting being painted, or that ink drawing being inked, was now a mystery: why was it a source of embarrassment, hung in the corner window off the street like a half proud family secret? Was it a badge of shame, or a warning? The most logical explanation was the simplest: probably some guy who worked there thought it was cool and everyone was too embarrassed to contradict him. If we get into wars by being too polite, it could certainly lead to art. Or at least wars about art.

The film already had a lot to live up to, and then the film had to compete with the trailer for My Name is Bruce, which is basically the same movie, this time with Bruce Campbell playing himself. It looks pretty great/unbearable, albeit with what seems to be some very dated gags involving Ted Raimi in yellowface. It begs the question, if we were embarrassed by Mickey Rooney in 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, are we really going to like it now?

And, after some other forgettable art house trailers, we get to JCVD itself, which can only be understood as part of an œuvre – the rest of Jean Claude Van Damme’s work. Let’s compare it to the reason I saw the film in the first place; my friend Richard reminded me recently of our mutual enjoyment of Double Team. I’m never going to talk my way out of that phrase, but I’m going to try.

Double Team

5 April 1997 @ The Hollywood Galaxy 6


$13.00 or, if one must be prosaic, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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Double Team stars Jean Claude Van Damme and Dennis Rodman in what may be his first film role if I could be bothered to look it up. I remember two things from the film, though I remember them well. One, Dennis Rodman was 100% unintelligible. I can’t emphasize this point enough. If Jean Claude Van Damme would say, for example, “Let’s get them!”, Dennis Rodman would reply with a resounding, “Ner. Wer spa ton.” It’s like he’s playing a game to get you to lean in closer to the screen, and it works. You would think it would get old fast. It doesn’t.

The second is the ending, which contains what may be the greatest product placement since Josie and the Pussycats. Mickey Rourke, back when he was still Mickey Rourke, is the bad guy. He has mined the Roman Coliseum with explosives and let tigers loose. As he meets his fate by being simultaneously blown to bits and being attacked by a tiger, the huge explosion destroys the 1800 year old landmark, but not our heroes, who are saved, that’s right, by giant, and heavily foregrounded, Coca-Cola® vending machines.

Double Team

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Profits!
Bragging rights for the ticket
$3.00
What Coca-cola paid me to mention the film.
$10.00
Total Profits
$13.00
Losses!
It’s been way too long to think of anything but good.
$0.00
Total Losses
$0.00

$13.00

JCVD

19 November 2008 @ The Los Angeles NuArt


$4.50 or, if one must be prosaic, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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It’s tough to beat that, though JCVD comes close. If you don’t know, Jean Claude Van Damme plays himself, as he takes hostages at a Belgian Post office.

Or does he?

No, he doesn’t.

The film is certainly diverting enough, and it’s actually kind of sweet, investing a complex humanity into someone who has spent his life as a punchline. And Mr. Van Damme is up to the task of creating the character of himself, even when it’s less than flattering. Which leads us to our Mickey-Rourke-Exploding-In-Order-To-Promote-Coke scene, which is when Jean Claude Van Damme, in the midst of the hostage situation, is lifted ten feet into the air by an unseen dolly, and proceeds to deliver a five minute monologue on what it’s like to be Jean Claude Van Damme. It’s a jaw dropper, and like Double Team, it’s a moment you walk away remembering.

So whatever I think about the rest of the movie, this is why I see everything, or at least could. Because you never know when a Belgium superstar will be lifted into the air to talk about mortality. If there’s a new snack on the market, I try it. So JCVD, it was fine, I guess, but what would my life be if I had never I seen it?

JCVD

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Profits!
The interworkings of a Belgian Post Office. To be fair, are you going to see this anywhere else? And don’t say Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis. That’s Nord-Pas-de-Calais, goddammit!
$1.00
His confession to the camera.
$6.00
Total Profits
$7.00
Losses!
The fact that I can’t remember anything other than it took place in a Post Office.
$2.50
Total Losses
$2.50

$4.50

Thoughts on How to eat food

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  1. Mike says:

    those doritos… the X-13D ones…

    allegedly, they were supposed to be Mountain Dew flavored. as someone equally fascinated by new snack foods/improperly branded energy drinks, I am sad that I missed out on getting some.

  2. Richard says:

    I guess if you had to explain the arc of JCVD’s career (and you do) you would have to consider the latter-day dearth of explanations for his Belgian accent. They used them all up in the films we saw in the 90s.

    He’s, uh, Cajun. Or, like Canadian. Or a Cyborg. Or Colonel Guile. Anything foreign(ish) and beginning with a C would do. Was he Croatian in Sudden Death?

    I think we saw Sudden Death on a double bill with The Bailiff.

  3. Scott Scott King says:

    The Baliff…all rise!

    I think the strangest accent concealer was for Arnold’s accent in The Terminator. Since it’s a robot that can imitate anyone’s voice, why did they make his actual voice phonetic english Austrian tinged? Was it a cyborg with a death wish or a sense of humor? These are the great mysteries.

    And JCVD, they really have to explain the accent – French with a Belgian accent. That just doesn’t make sense.

  4. Scott Scott King says:

    Also, Mountain Dew. 1) Who would think that was a good idea, and 2) How could it go so, so wrong?

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