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One week till TIFF

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With one week to go the buzz around TIFF is as loud as a swarm of killer bees in Texas. With so many films to talk about like Guy Ritchies RocknRolla, the Coen brother’s Burn After Reading, and Ed Harris’ Appaloosa, I struggled with what exactly to write about. That is of course until I remembered JCVD. All it takes is one look at the synopsis and you know its going to be a classic:

Being Jean-Claude Van Damme is tough. Sure, he is an internationally recognized celebrity (and possibly the world’s most famous Belgian), but this star seems to have fallen from grace with a recent history of direct-to-video flicks. In a surprising yet crafty career move, Van Damme plays himself – with all his foibles in plain view – in JCVD, a rollicking action-comedy examination of the nature of fame.

Adding to Van Damme’s worries are a parasitic agent, financial troubles and an emotionally fraught custody battle for his daughter in which the prosecuting attorney rips apart the action star’s bone-cracking collected works to make a case for an unsuitable father figure. In order to clear his head, Van Damme returns to his family home in Belgium, where the myth of the indestructible hero hasn’t been completely shattered.

After bouncing a cheque to his lawyer, Van Damme goes to a post office to make a wire transfer, only to stumble into a heist and be taken hostage. When the police catch a glimpse of the superstar in the middle of the chaos, they jump to the conclusion that he has finally snapped and pulled the robbery himself. Under the barrel of a gun, Van Damme is revealed to be an ordinary guy, filled with fears, contradictions and hopes. How can he live up to the legend he has built?

Both a madcap tribute to the star’s martial arts moves and an examination of the true essence of a hero, JCVD makes sure that its subject is in on the joke, immersing him into a reality similar to that found in Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich. Aware of his limitations, Van Damme conveys a stoic deadpan that director Mabrouk El Mechri moulds into comedic gold. There is also a dramatic centre to the film, and Van Damme delivers a sincere and moving monologue that must be seen to be believed.

A hilariously entertaining, surprising film, JCVD tells the comeback story of a screen hero who has been on the receiving end of kicks that are getting harder and harder to take.

I am also pleased to see that JCVD is the film that kicks off the midnight madness program in the festival, a staple for hardcore film fans in Toronto. If you are interested in attending JCVD I suggest you get your tickets now as they wont last long. In the mean time feel free to wet your appetite with a teaser as well as the official trailer:

Teaser Trailer

Official Trailer