****½

Central to Unit 27. Jean-Claude Van Damme’s robbing a post office. I need back-up. 

It took me 3 years to finish watching this film.  While the beginning is spectacular–a no cut extended action scene from the filming of a fake movie–I did not trust the setup.  As the above quote states, it appears that JCVD has custody problems and financial issues.  The line between reality, cinema, and reality in cinema gets totally blurred.  Thankfully the director, Mabrouk El Mechri, ties everything up in the end.  Fortunately he ties it up in a non-JCVD, non-Hollywood way.

I have never been a Van-Damme fan.  Maybe it’s because I had friends who liked Bloodsport just a little too much, or maybe I held it against him for Street Fighter sucking so much.  What I know now is that he has been treated unfairly by the media and public opinion.  He really can act and, at least his character in this film, appreciates his own success without patting himself on the back like so many stars.  I did not recognize any of the other actors from this film, but I was extremely impressed with their performances.  Where do Belgian actors go to get experience?  They live in a small country and their most famous character was written by an English woman (Hercule Poirot).  To date, I don’t think a Belgian has ever even played him.  While I now recognize the skills that Van-Damme has, I hope that he does not become the first to play Poirot.

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