Rated R

A surprisingly sharp and entertaining film wherein Jean-Claude Van Damme plays himself, sort of. After a custody battle for his daughter, Jean-Claude returns to his native Belgium, where he winds up in just the sort of situation his characters usually encounter in his karate movies—only now, the guns are real. Well, sort of, since this is still a movie. JCVD makes good use of nonlinear narrative, and Van Damme gives a much better performance than you’d expect from a guy who usually acts with his feet. The director, Mabrouk El Mechri, knows enough about the movie business to effectively parody it, but has enough sympathy for the audience to do so without resorting to incomprehensible inside jokes. On the whole, this is a funny and smart film that shows that Jean-Claude Van Damme is no Steven Seagal.

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