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DVD Review

DVD cover

Jean-Claude Van Damme
Behind Closed Doors


Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme
ITV Studios Home Entertainment
RRP: £14.99
Certificate: 12
Available 16 May 2011

Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD), shot to relative fame with the release of Time Cop at a time when Hollywood was obsessed with men who were able to kick in the faces of other men, regardless of their acting ability. Some of these actors (Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger) were able, to a greater or lesser degree, to transcend their self-created stereotype, whereas JCVD, Dolph Lundgren and Steven Segal were condemned to repeat their roles, ad-nausium, even though they became older and looked a little foolish.

Jean-Claude Van Damme: Behind Closed Doors (2011) is a documentary which follows JCVD over several months as he goes about his daily life. It’s a genre which is becoming increasingly popular, though I suspect that, given editorial control, it remains as deep as Hello magazine. Why do we watch these things? Is it because JCVD has some deep and meaningful message for the world, or is it like the trapezes artist, where it’s all very clever, but we really came to see them fall off their perch? If so I'm not sure I like what that says about people.

So, the first episode gives us an insight to JCVD, it’s his time to lay out the manifesto of what we will see about his life. The problem is that JCVD hasn’t really thought this through. Initially he presents himself as a great champion of the world and the environment, even to the point of tears - JCVD cries a lot over the coming episodes. He takes the audience to his local church, where no less than God promised him a career as a great actor and promised to give him the knowledge to save the planet.

Well, he had a career in America, even if it was a short one, but I can’t help thinking as JCVD, got back into his huge petrol guzzling car to fly off to another country, to consume the best produce and dance in clubs which burn enough electricity in a single night to match a small sized town, that he may not have that great a grasp on his own personal carbon footprint, or what saving the planet will require.

There is a dichotomy in JCVD, I don’t doubt that his heart is in the right place, but his actions do not match this. He has hit fifty and what we witness is a man in full blown midlife crisis, regretting the lost opportunities of the past and even the present - he turned down a part in The Expendables, does this man not have an agent - his great future plan is to fight, for real, a man half his age to prove to Hollywood, who is neither watching nor cares, that he is still a force to be reckoned with. Apparently he also feels that he needs to do this for his wife and children so that they can once again view him as a hero, without the insight that those he loves are horrified at the idea of the fight.

Like I said, he seems to be a decent, if misguided, man longing for past glories, rather than living in the present and enjoying what looks to be a very blessed life, making minor European films and travelling the world.

The first series is presented on two DVD discs. The first holds four episodes as does disc two. Each show lasts about forty-five minutes, just perfect for the American market.

It’s an odd thing to categorise, it’s certainly not as entertaining as The Osbournes, but at the same time I not sure that it was brutal enough with its main character to tell us much that is meaningful about the man.

Still, fans will be pleased to add this to their collection of aging martial arts paraphernalia.


Charles Packer

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