Tag Archives: Jean-Claude Van Damme

Sense8 – Season 1

Sense8 seems like the kind of show that began with the title, then developed an edgy concept to match/justify the title, then built a plot around the concept, then sort of accumulated characters to fill the whole thing out. That’s conjecture, of course, and of course there’s no “right” way to build a lasting story in the medium of television or otherwise. Lana and Andy Wachowski have been around the block, too, with the Matrix series, V for Vendetta, Cloud Atlas and their most recent film Jupiter Ascending among the numerous entries on their joint résumé. Their sci-fi movies are big, loud, and undeniably ambitious, and while the jury’s mostly still out on whether those movies are any good or not it’s certainly true that their concepts are highly original.

The concept of Sense8 is simultaneously the best thing about the series and the most frustrating. Eight people, spread across the world from San Francisco to Chicago to Mexico City to London to Berlin to Nairobi to Mumbai to Seoul, make a fascinating discovery about themselves: they are able to sense each other. Thoughts, feelings, secrets, emotions — regardless of the distance between them, these “Sensates” (get it?) share a bond that no one else can understand. They themselves don’t understand it for some time, and by the end of the first season there’s still a lot left to explore about the connection these eight people share.

Continue reading Sense8 – Season 1

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Film & TV News: March 16

News

  • The first Star Wars spinoff, from director Gareth Edwards and writer Chris Weitz, now has a title and a star: Star Wars: Rogue One with Felicity Jones.
  • Star Wars: Episode VIII, written and directed by Rian Johnson, has been scheduled for May 26, 2017, exactly forty years and one day after the release of A New Hope.
  • Disney surprised absolutely no one by announcing Frozen 2. “Just let it go, Disney” jokes abounded.
  • Eddie Murphy could make a triumphant return to drama in Lee Daniels’ Richard Pryor biopic, playing the comedian’s father. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get too invested in an Oscar this time…

Continue reading Film & TV News: March 16

Bloodsport (1988)

After watching the surprisingly affecting JCVD last week, a return to the glory days of action hero Jean-Claude Van Damme seemed in order. A dozen movies and a kamillion roundhouse kicks later, I emerged in a blearyeyed stupor with a stark reminder of the true nature, dark and terrible, of a Van Damme flick. The horror…the horror…

Bloodsport is definitely the one that shot JCVD to fame, and by all accounts it’s a pretty typical outing for the Muscles from Brussels. Most of his films from the early ‘90s are either about a) a young fighter looking to high-kick his way to the top or b) a studly defender of the meek who high-kicks the shit out of the oppressive. There are some decent movies in there, to be sure, namely John Woo’s unapologetically action-oriented Hard Target and Van Damme’s Die Hard attempt Sudden Death. For every one of those there are two stinkers, though, like the Aggro Crag-set Cyborg and the unbearably campy Street Fighter.

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Film & TV News: March 2

News

– The legendary Leonard Nimoy passed away this week, spawning many a Star Trek marathon. We’ll have a logical time in his honor.

– Denis Villeneuve, auteur behind the dark and moody Enemy and the dark and moody Prisoners, is being touted as the director for the likely dark and moody Blade Runner sequel. It’s a weird prospect having Villeneuve direct such a massively commercial movie, but then again it’s kind of a weird prospect doing a Blade Runner sequel at all.

– Leonardo DiCaprio joined The Crowded Room, in which he’ll play a man with 24 different personalities. We don’t know much about the story, but it’s an awesome title at any rate.

Continue reading Film & TV News: March 2

JCVD (2008)

All of the Oscar hubbub surrounding Birdman got me thinking about JCVD, a movie built on a somewhat similar concept. You might superficially call this “a comeback movie”, if you think of Michael Keaton’s Birdman role in the same way most think of Mickey Rourke’s revitalization in The Wrestler. This might be the comeback of Jean-Claude Van Damme, action hero of the ’90s, star of movies with such vague titles that his name is printed in larger font on the posters, one-time king of both the roundhouse kick and the action flick box office.

But JCVD is set up like Birdman in another way, and after a certain point it’s not really a comeback film at all. The Muscles from Brussels stars as himself, or at the very least a tired and nearly washed-up version of himself, broke and embroiled in a custody battle for his young daughter. He’s still acting in the same films he’s always been acting in, but nowadays the passion seems sucked out of the entire process. The first long shot of JCVD follows Van Damme as he does an action sequence from his latest film, directed by a kid who doesn’t give a shit about Van Damme, and that opening shot tells two stories at once. It tells the story of the film-in-the-film, in which Van Damme’s hero saves a hostage from an army of faceless henchmen. But it also tells the actor’s story, Van Damme visibly going through the motions to get the film done instead of actually living through the thrill of the action. Every punch and jab and dive is perfect, exactly where it should be, and because of that it’s the most unexciting action sequence ever filmed.

Continue reading JCVD (2008)