Best films on TV – week commencing 8th April 2013

5 out of 7 days this week, you can watch a Van Damme film. In order for me to resist posting each one as the best film on TV that particular day, you can consider it a “Muscles from Brussels Bonus” along with the real best film. Lucky you! I’ve also set myself a challenge of picking a film from 7 different channels just to keep you all on your toes and show that I don’t just watch movies on Film4, the horror channel and ITV4.

Universal Soldier The ReturnMonday 8th April – The Bourne Identity (ITV2 10.30pm)

The spy thriller that made people sit up and ask “why don’t they make the Bond films like this?” And then, of course, Casino Royale happened. Somewhat ironically, I can’t remember when the last time this film was picked for the days #bestfilmonTV. It’s on all the time, but with rarely broadcast The Bourne Supremacy on ITV2 on Friday, it’s a good excuse to watch them both. (MFBbonus: Universal Soldier: The Return, Sony Movie Channel, 11.05pm – direct sequel to the original UniSol film with Van Damme (but no Dolph) and a Sky Net esque villain. Oh, and Bill Goldberg as a big evil baddy.)

Tuesday 9th April – Battle for the Planet of the Apes (Film4, 3.20pm)

Unless you have the day off or are still on holiday, you may have to rewind a blank video tape and set the timer to record this one whilst you’re out. Released in 1973, it’s the final film in the original quintilogy of Planet of the Apes films; ‘Battle for’ is the series’ most unsubtle anti-war movie. Gorillas fighting chimps with orangutan overlords, it couldn’t be more obvious. It’s still a great movie and you don’t have to have seen the previous films to understand what’s going on here. Think of it as a prequel to the original 1968 blockbuster. (MFBbonus: Street Fighter, Sony Movie Channel, 10.50pm – honestly, it’s a decent action film. Just don’t think of it as the same as the Street Fighter game and you’ll be fine! Van Damme’s accent is fooling nobody though. American soldier my arse.)

Wednesday 10th April – A History of Violence (More4, 10pm)

Having only watched Cronenberg’s multiple award winning drama on More4 last week, I can heartily recommend it on the same channel again this week. It tells the story of a family man who must reluctantly turn to violence in order to save his family from mobsters and from his past. It’s probably Viggo Mortensen’s finest performance, and he has a bucket load of those to choose from. Useless bit of trivia for you, it was the last Hollywood film to be released on VHS. (MFBbonus: Knock Off, 5USA+1, 12.25am – remember when Jackie Chan made those slightly jokey, fun, Hong Kong kung-fu capers in the 90’s? This is basically Van Damme’s attempt at that. Ignore Rob Schneider, if you can.)

Thursday 11th April – Twins of Evil (horror channel, 9pm)

Assuming not everybody has Sky Atlantic to catch Tarantino’s masterpiece, Pulp Fiction, Thursday’s best film comes in the form of Hammer Horror’s 1971 oft parodied vampire film, Twins of Evil (despite the fact it narrowly missed out on a place in my favourite films of 1971.) With the gravitas of Peter Cushing tying it all together, plenty of large-chested scantily-clad young ladies, and lashings of bright red syrup–I mean blood, it’s about as typical a HH as it’s possible to get. In a good way! (MFBbonus: Replicant, Sony Movie Channel, 1am – the second film where Van Damme plays two separate characters (an evil serial killer + his clone) although perhaps not as good overall as Double Impact. Also, it features Merle from The Walking Dead as a cop. It’s honestly a very good, very sad, and very serious film.)

Friday 12th April – Mean Streets (BBC2, 12.10am (technically Saturday but close enough to still be Friday’s choice!)

Eight different films could’ve easily made today’s choice, but with most of them appearing on TV channels I’ve already used, and seeing as Mean Streets is a damned fine film, I figured this is as good a choice as any. It may be a little rough around the edges, but it shows flashes of the brilliance that was to come from Martin Scorcese. Harvey Keitel and Bobby De Niro are also superb here too. (MFBbonus: Hmm you’ll have to take the day off. There’s no Van Damme film on TV on Friday. How very disappointing.)

Saturday 13th April – Rocky III (Channel 5, 4.25pm)

I pity the fool who hasn’t seen the third Rocky film (see what I did there?) Something of a half-way point in the series, shifting from the sentimental mushyness of the first two films to the montage-laden epicness of Rocky IV; Rocky III is at an interesting impasse. It also happens to feature the best “bad guy” in the series (better than Ivan Drago) in the shape of Mr T as Clubber Lang! (MFBbonus: Sudden Death, ITV4, 9.05pm – as close to Die Hard as Van Damme got, he plays a security guard who protects an ice hockey arena from a terrorist attack. Yeah.. it’s quite a bit “Die Hard”ish. Good fun though!)

Sunday 14th April – Land of the Dead (ITV4, 11.25pm)

Well, I couldn’t not pick a zombie film, could I? Particularly when it’s a George A Romero one, at that! This is the movie that Romero said he wanted to make when he made Day of the Dead, if he’d had the budget for it back in the 80’s. Land of the Dead is the first in his modern ‘Dead’ trilogy, and features some of his best and most clever work. See if you can spot a cameo from Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright too! (MFBbonus: there actually isn’t a Jean-Claude Van Damme film on TV on Sunday as far as I can tell. I’m sure you can find one online if you’re desperate. Wake of Death is on Crackle.com for free! Try that if you like.)

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