Jean Claude Van Johnson: “I’m still kicking, I must be on Broadway!”

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Who doesn’t know, and love, Jean Claude Van Damme? How many times have the many TV channels played the Universal Soldier series, or Timecop, Hard Target, Bloodsport, Kickboxer, Double Team and countless other action action masterpieces? Those incredible high-kicking legs of Jean Claude Van Damme are still to this day capable of performing eye-bulging man-splits, it just might take a little longer now. Spoilers high-kicking your way!

And why is that? Because JC, like everyone around us now, is grudgingly diving into nostalgia to help us deal with real-world atrocity, is getting older. His movie career isn’t anywhere near what it was, but with the crap-ton of films he had done previously, Jean Claude has a ridiculous amount of money left and not a clue what to do with it. He proclaims to be retired, ostensibly from the film business, but the outrageously-priced call girls and pictures of far too many dog companions aren’t filling the void of absolute boredom JC currently suffers. So when old flame Vanessa (Kat Foster) shows back up in JC’s life, he decides to jump back into things with both feet!

But wait! JC went back to his old management publicist Jane (Phylicia Rashad) and told her he wanted to work again, sure, but he wasn’t talking about movies. It turns out, all this time while he was starring in kick-ass action films, they were just fronts for his really-real job, as an international spy-assassin. You laugh, but I’m not kidding! These progressively-more-ludicrous films make for fine covers while he investigates bad goings-on in other countries, and indeed, Jane tells JC he’ll need a movie role to star in if he intends to go to Bulgaria, chasing after Vanessa who’s already on her own assignment. In Bulgaria, she’s a hairdresser on the set of the film being made there.

And guess what? Van Damme just landed the lead role of that self-same movie, HUCK, a splashy kung-fu re-imagining of Huckleberry Finn, I kid you not, while he also checks out the heroin business here in Bulgaria. But, like many other things in this hidden gem of a show, the role is completely absurd and pushes him to some seriously frustrating acting, fighting, and even just idiocy, limits. The director has no respect for his high kicks and splits, yet practically creams himself when actual bad guys come to confront JC on the set and oh does he wipe the floor with them.

Jane stuck JC with some help in the form of Luis (Moises Arias), a former Columbian child soldier with a lot of baggage still left to deal with, but also an excellent makeup artist with a heart of gold. And of course it turns out the guy who plays “N-Word Jim”, Victor (Deren Tadlock), who may have a thing for Vanessa and so JC got him kinda sorta fired for it, may be able to help JC in his taking down the bad guys as well. Because it turns out, the bad guys aren’t always who you think they are.

Even lacking original coherent plot, if you’ve seen most of JC’s movies you can kind of guess already who the baddies turn out to be; I’m not going to spoil it. Visions of Elysium-like emu farms, a JC clone with a terrible accent, and Jean Claude’s own “gift” notwithstanding (no, it’s splitting), the final confrontation is hilarious, dry and preposterously witty about getting old, much like JCVD himself.

Each episode is only approximately half an hour long and there are only six episodes in this first season, so it’s not like this delightful little eye-roll of an aging action show carves a bunch of time from your life. Though I have to say that, like the movie seems to think as well, Timecop is still arguably JCVD’s best movie.

Come admire the fact that doing man-splits still hasn’t killed the indomitable Jean Claude Van Damme, I mean, Jean Claude Van Johnson, on Amazon Prime now!

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