The Best and Worst of Jean-Claude Van Damme
Jean-Claude Van Damme is a true champion of martial arts, but how do his films hold up? I will choose the 5 best and the 5 worst, then list a complete ratings list of all his films. Ready?
The Best Films of JCVD
- JCVD - JCVD follows the story of...well, Jean-Claude Van Damme. He plays himself in a story that could happen to anyone. It's emotional, beautiful, and full of heart. Van Damme poured everything he had into this film, even cutting away from the film to give a heartfelt message to his loyal fans. It's a truly moving film, deserving of an Oscar even. JCVD gets 4 out of 4 stars.
- 6 Bullets - 6 Bullets follows the story of an ex-mercenary who now tracks down people for a living. He's hired to find a child that's been thrown into the child-trafficking business. He finds him, but things go horribly wrong. He blames himself for the incidents, becoming an alcoholic to try and forget what happened. But when an ex-MMA fighter's daughter is taken, Van Damme is the only one who can save her. Emotional, realistic, heartbreaking, and action-packed, this film gets 4 out of 4 stars.
- In Hell - In Hell follows the story of a normal man driven to the brink of desperation. On his way home from work, his wife is killed and the killer is not charged, getting off completely free. Van Damme becomes desperate, killing the killer right in the courthouse hallway. Of course, he's convicted and sentenced to life in Kavlavi prison. What he doesn't realize is, the prison is run by a warden who forces inmates to fight to the death for his own amusement. The film is dark, brutal, and emotionally taxing. It gets a 3.5 out of 4, simply because of the ending.
- Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning - In Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, Van Damme returns to his iconic role as Luc Devereaux, a Universal Soldier. In between Regeneration and Day of Reckoning, Luc has learned how to free his mind and act on his own free will. The film opens with Scott Adkins' character though, in first-person format. His daughter comes in his room, frightened, saying there's monsters in the house. As any good father would, he goes and checks, only to find several men waiting for him. They beat him almost to death, then none other than Luc Devereaux appears and kills his family. Scott goes on a one-man mission to take down this group of Universal Soldiers responsible for their death. The film is a huge mystery, making you believe one thing and surprising you with an entirely different conclusion. The film gets a 3.5 out of 4.
- Kickboxer - In one of his most popular roles, Van Damme is a novice fighter who trains day in and day out, perfecting martial arts, so he can enter a competition and take revenge of the fighter who hospitalized his brother. The film is inspirational and moving, getting a 3 out of 4.
The Worst films of JCVD
- Cyborg - Now we enter the lackluster realm of Van Damme films. The number one worst being Cyborg. Cyborg shows the future, but not a very good one. Society has fallen and a gang of killers terrorizes the streets. Lucky for the future, Van Damme is a fighter, ready to kick some butt. Unfortunately, the film is beyond cheesy, is full of terrible action and special effects, and lacks the emotion that most of Van Damme's movies has. The film gets a 1 out of 4.
- The Expendables 2 - Speaking of cheesy, Van Damme's turn as villan Vilan in the follow-up to Stallone's smash-hit The Expendables wasn't a bad performance, it was just the rest of the movie that needed a lot of work. Chuck Norris said that he wouldn't appear in the movie if there was a lot of language, so we were forced to hear grown, gruff men say things such as "cheese head". Thanks for that, Norris. Aside from Van Damme's villainous name being Vilan (pronounced Vil-ahn, which sounds like someone couldn't think of a better name and lazily added an accent to "villain"), the film is chock full of horrible puns that even I can't appreciate. There were just enough in the first to make it fun, but there were three times as many in this one. It was just overstuffed with puns. This film gets a 1.5 out of 4.
- Street Fighter - The cheesiness continues with the movie adaptation of the video game Street Fighter. Street Fighter: The Movie is full of bad dialogue, cheesy jokes, bad performances. The bad dialogue is most likely due to bad writing, but at least the director did what he could with it. A positive side is Van Damme looks great blonde and Ming-Na Wen can seriously take control of a film no matter how bad it is. The film gets a 1.5 out of 4.
- Double Team - Double Team pairs Van Damme with a green-haired Dennis Rodman to take down a previous target that evaded Van Damme. I have to give this one a little credit. It started good, but it was so clunky and badly directed that it fizzed out about half-way through. It wasn't Van Damme or Rodman's fault, however. They did the best they could with what they were given. This film gets a 1.5 out of 4.
- The Universal Soldier series had always taken the tactical route, keeping things more military based and as realistic as possible. Universal Soldier: The Return, however, breaks that mold and adds a sci-fi element, but doesn't quite pull it off. Van Damme did his best with a cast that absolutely could not act to save their lives and a script that was poorly written. Probably one of the things that hindered the film the most was the fact that Lundgren didn't return for this one. When it comes to Universal Soldier, where there's Van Damme, there should be Lundgren. The film gets a 1.5 out of 4.
Which Van Damme film was your favorite?
Complete Ratings of Van Damme's Movies
No Retreat, No Surrender....3 out of 4
Bloodsport..... 4 out of 4
Black Eagle....2 out of 4
Cyborg....1 out of 4
Kickboxer....3 out of 4
Lionheart....3.5 out of 4
Death Warrant.... 2.5 out of 4
Double Impact....3 out of 4
Universal Soldier....3 out of 4
Nowhere to Run....2 out of 4
Hard Target.... 3.5 out of 4
Timecop.... 2.5 out of 4
Street Fighter..... 1.5 out of 4
Sudden Death.... 3.5 out of 4
The Quest.... 3 out of 4
Maximum Risk.... 2.5 out of 4
Double Team.... 1.5 out of 4
Knock Off.... 1.5 out of 4
Legionnaire.... 3 out of 4
Universal Soldier: The Return.... 1.5 out of 4
Desert Heat (AKA Inferno)..... 2 out of 4
Replicant.... 3 out of 4
The Order.... 3 out of 4
Derailed.... 2 out of 4
In Hell.... 3.5 out of 4
Wake of Death.... 2.5 out of 4
Second in Command.....3 out of 4
The Hard Corps.... 2.5 out of 4
Until Death.... 2 out of 4
The Shepherd.... 2 out of 4
JCVD.... 4 out of 4
Universal Soldier: Regeneration.... 3 out of 4
Kung Fu Panda 2.... 2.5 out of 4
Assassination Games.... 3 out of 4
Dragon Eyes.... 3 out of 4
The Expendables 2.... 1.5 out of 4
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning.... 3.5 out of 4
6 Bullets..... 4 out of 4
Alien Uprising.... 1.5 out of 4
Welcome to the Jungle.... 2.5 out of 4
Enemies Closer.... 3 out of 4
Jian Bing Man.... N/A
Swelter.... 2 out of 4
Pound of Flesh.... 3 out of 4
Kung Fu Panda 3.... 4 out of 4
Kickboxer: Vengeance..... 1.5 out of 4
Kill 'Em All..... 2 out of 4
Questions & Answers
© 2016 Alec Zander