Jan 31 2009

Van Damme Day Afternoon

Published by at 9:27 pm under Blog,Movie Review,Movies

Over the Christmas break, I saw Dog Day Afternoon for the first time and loved it. Pacino was at his finest with his usual powerful energy, but with more control than he exerted later in his career. The film, which was more about celebrity culture than a botched bank heist, captured an era, captured a mindset and captured the imagination of its audience.


33 years later, the mussels from Brussels, Jean Claude Van Damme stars in his own twist on the classic heist scenario……and it’s actually pretty damme good.


JCVDOn B’dum‘s recommendation I picked up JCVD in HMV yesterday and, much to Lottie‘s initial chagrin, we sat down to watch it yesterday evening. Strangely, the first thing about the movie that stood out was the impressive, all in one shot, opening action scene finishing on a funny interplay between Van Damme and the Director. It was clear this was not going to be a regular action film, nor a regular Van Damme throwaway flick.


In Belgium having lost custody of his daughter, a penniless Jean Claude pops into a post office to receive a money transfer to pay for his legal fees and becomes the main protagonist in a heist. While Dog Day Afternoon focuses on picking apart the media and America’s obsession with ‘celebrity’ in the 70’s, JCVD is more interested in deconstructing the actual ‘movie star’. This post-modern thriller, writen and directed by Mabrouk El Mechri goes further than simply poking fun at the twilight years of a once massive Hollywood star – it bores deep and pulls apart his life, culminating in a soon-to-be-classic scene where Van Damme literally ascends out of his life to gave a truly emotional discourse on the nature of his current existence. Yes, Jean Claude Van Damme is philosophical, thoughtful, emotive and most of all, proves he can act.


JCVDThis film is no masterpiece but it does deserve some recognition. The ending doesn’t fit perfectly. It’s incongruent with the rest of the film and doesn’t give the final satisfaction I hoped for. That said, it does not take from the rest of the movie and as the credits rolled I found myself looking back over Van Damme’s impressive performance.


So, is this the start of Van Damme’s comeback? Perhaps! 2010 sees the teaming up of some of Hollywood’s biggest action stars, both former and present. Fan boys may be disappointed by the lack of violence and heavy action in JCVD, but The Expendables with Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke and Jason Statham, among others, looks like a crowd pleaser. It ill be iteresting to see the impact that movie makes.


To conclude the comparison between JCVD and Dog Day Afternoon, I’m not sure JCVD will stand the test of time as well as its 70’s counterpart, but at the moment, I’d rather sit down and watch Van Damme again first. This pacy, clever and very funny film is worth a look. I have it on DVD if anyone wants a loan. 🙂



9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Van Damme Day Afternoon”

  1. ron 01 Feb 2009 at 1:05 am

    A thoughtful, well written review of a…. Jean Claude Van Damme film, love it! 🙂 Deconstructionism how are ya!
    Now if I could only convince you of the artistic merits of Adam Sandler, beginning with Happy Gilmore…

  2. Darrenon 01 Feb 2009 at 1:53 am

    I know you’re being funny, but if Van Damme can come up with something this good, there’s hope for even Sandler. Perhaps a biopic about a comic who the world adores but who despises himself……no, hang on, Jim Carrey already told the story of Andy Kaufman……

    (Disclaimer: I fucking love Happy Gilmore)

  3. B'dumon 01 Feb 2009 at 3:01 am

    I done a post about it?! …did I?

    Rotten Tomatoes 3rd most critically praised film of last year I believe.

  4. Darraghon 01 Feb 2009 at 9:33 am

    I was hoping it would hit the cinemas here. Bags on borrowing the DVD when next we meet.

    Tho’ Lottie’s already promised it to me 🙂

  5. Rosson 01 Feb 2009 at 8:50 pm

    I loved JCVD!
    I’ve never seen Dog Day Afternoon, I’ll have to check it out!

  6. Lottieon 02 Feb 2009 at 9:19 am

    It’s saying something when a JCVD film is ebtter than a Kate Blanchett, Christian Bale movie.

  7. Darrenon 02 Feb 2009 at 11:23 am

    @B’dum Did you post about it? I was just talking about a comment you left on my Upcoming Movies post.

    @Darragh Hey, it’s MY DVD, not Lottie’s…

    @Ross Worth seeing, if only for Pacino’s performance.

    @Lottie The end of the world is very fucking nigh.

  8. Darraghon 02 Feb 2009 at 11:28 am

    Ach Daz what’s yours is mine hers so it’s all relative really. Just gis it.

  9. B'dum B'dum B'dum B'd-on 03 Feb 2009 at 12:52 am

    Dog Day Afternoon is a masterpiece, if only for Pacino’s performance… which fortunately is 99% of the film.

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