Tag Archives: Jean-Claude Van Damme

Failed Critics Podcast – COP: Jean-Claude Van Damme

Jean Claude Van DammeWelcome to the latest episode of the Failed Critics Corridor of Praise podcast. Originally, the CoP was set up to honour the work of icons and legends of the film world who have been overlooked by the academy and other major award ceremonies. Therefore, our sixth inductee – and long overdue as it may be – is the Muscles from Brussels himself, Mr Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg; otherwise known to you and me as Jean-Claude Van Damme!

A professional karate and kickboxing champion in his youth, including being named a former Mr Belgium, JCVD moved to America in 1982 with dreams of making it as an action film star. After a succession of minor roles as an extra, including a credited role as ‘Gay Karate Man’ in Monaco Fever, his first big break came in 1986 playing the leg splitting, spinning heel kicking ‘Ivan the Russian’ in Karate Kid knock-off No Retreat, No Surrender. This was eventually followed by two of his most successful box office hits (and frequently named as fan favourites of course) in 1988’s Bloodsport and 1989’s Kickboxer.

Achieving his dream of becoming one of the most globally well known action film stars of his time during the early to mid 90’s, a series of personal problems thereafter resulted in the slow decline of his box office pull. Nevertheless, after starring in over 45 feature films as varied as DreamWorks animation Kung Fu Panda 2 and futuristic Albert Pyun b-movie Cyborg, we still love him and as such are honouring the good man with his induction to our illustrious Corridor of Praise. To help Steve and Owen immortalise the greatest living Belgian, beaming in all the way from Norway are self-confessed Van Damme-nuts Hollie and Richard Trondsen.

Join us again next week as we have an exciting crossover podcast with our friends at Black Hole Cinema and Wikishuffle.

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Failed Critics Podcast: BO(JCVD)GOF

marvellousWelcome all to this weeks podcast This episode has a bumper crop of new releases.. and new-ish releases..! A whopping four films out in the cinema right now receive the Failed Critics treatment. Whilst Carole reviews the latest Woody Allen movie Magic in the Moonlight and the upcoming zom-rom-com Life After Beth, Owen tackles the recent Liam Neeson crime thriller A Walk Among The Tombstones and the totes ruddy spiffing The Riot Club.

Amongst all that, the team also found time to talk about BBC’s latest Storyville season, the 1989 black comedy The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, and Steve even got in on the new-releases by reviewing the Toby Jones drama, Marvellous, shown on TV this week (and therefore still on iPlayer).

AND, if all that wasn’t enough, as a result of Owen’s quiz triumph last week, Carole & Steve’s forfeit was to watch the Jean-Claude Van Damme classic Double Impact, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme. Yes, that’s right! Two Van Damme’s for the price of one.

Join us next week for reviews of Denzel Washington’s new thriller, The Equalizer.

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Best films on TV: 29 April – 5 May

The best films each day on free-to-air TV as chosen by Failed Critics contributor Owen Hughes. Expect at least one film featuring either JCVD or zombies.

predator_001Monday 29 April – Iron Man (Film4, 9pm)

With the release of the third installment in Marvel’s Iron Man franchise last week (or “this week” if you’re in America) we should be grateful to Film4 for airing the film that started it all. Especially for those of us who don’t own it already on DVD. I mean, I own it. Of course I own it. But the point is, you might not. Therefore, you should definitely take advantage of  this opportunity and remind yourself why Marvel are making some of the most successful and enjoyable movies of our time.

Tuesday 30 April – Predator (Film4, 9pm)

As a nod to our founder, James Diamond, I was tempted to recommend the Caravaggio (sorry, “Carl Vaggio”) opera that’s on Sky Arts 2 on Tuesday, but alas, I haven’t seen it to comment. Plus, it’s an opera. Opera is for slack-jawed faggots, not a goddamn sexual tyrannosaurus like Jesse Ventura in the best film you’re likely to find on TV all week. It’s one of my favourite films and, quite frankly, I’m distrustful of anyone who doesn’t enjoy Predator, nevermind has the willpower NOT to watch it whenever they notice it’s on TV.

Wednesday 1 May – In Hell (SyFy, 10pm)

I can hear the groans from here that I’m picking a straight-to-video Jean-Claude Van Damme film as the best film on TV, but trust me, this is one of his best. I’m genuinely not picking it purely because it features the muscles from Brussels! You know that bit in The Dark Knight Rises where Bruce Wayne is in the prison? That’s basically what the whole of this film is like, but with Van Damme instead of Bruce Wayne. It’s brutal, intense and poses some interesting questions on justice and morality. Also, it features JCVD with a full beard. Bet you’re intrigued now, huh!

Thursday 2 May – Public Enemies (ITV4, 10.10pm)

I’m recommending this film blind, but certain it’ll be a popular decision. The best film on TV on Thursday is Michael Mann’s crime drama set in 1930’s America. Probably one of the best decades and places to set a crime drama? Certainly one of the most popular. It stars Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard who was discussed quite recently on our birthday podcast. Praised for its aesthetics, the performances from the cast and even its soundtrack, I will certainly be recording, if not watching it, that evening.

Friday 3 May – The Blair Witch Project (horror channel, 10.55pm)

Can you remember the first time you were truly scared by a film? That genuine terror that creeps into your subconscious afterwards as you get up out of the sofa, half expecting some maniac or ghoul to be lurking in the hallway or the top of the stairs, patiently waiting for you?  It’s all bollocks, of course. It’s only a film you big sissy. But still, if there’s any film that still puts the willies up me (leave it) then it’s this. Best watched in a dark room, in total silence, late at night (say, around 11pm-ish)…

Saturday 4 May – Martyrs (horror channel, 12.10am)

…and if The Blair Witch Project doesn’t screw with your mind, then let me introduce you to one of the most excruciating watches you’re ever likely to have. The French low-budget horror film, Martyrs, has a reputation that it fully deserves. Gruesome, disturbing, twisted, intelligent, horrific, shocking and uncomfortable are all words that could describe it, but one thing’s for sure; if you’re looking for a film that will violate your mind in the same way certain characters in this movie are physically, then look no further.

Sunday 5 May – The Cannonball Run (5USA, 12pm)

After watching The Blair Witch Project on Friday and Martyrs on Saturday, you’re going to need a bit of light relief! This screwball family comedy featuring the always watchable Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise as ‘him’, Roger Moore playing a brilliant spoof of the James Bond/spy archetype, and plenty of other minor supporting roles for Jackie Chan, Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin (amongst others), as they race across America in their cars is both simple and funny. Perfect early Sunday afternoon watching. Or, you can continue the horror weekend with Cronenberg’s sexual body horror Shivers on horror channel later that evening. Or watch both? The Cannonball Run trumps it though, to be honest!

Best films on TV – week commencing 18th March 2013

Here is my selection of the best films showing on UK free-to-air television this week. I say ‘best’, but these things are very subjective. Basically, stop telling me on Twitter that I chose rubbish films.

Feeling, so good today!
Feeling, so good today!

Monday 18th March – Gremlins (ITV2 at 11pm)

If the nostalgia trip of the weekend’s film choices hasn’t satisfied you, then why not live out your childhood a little longer with an unseasonal showing of one of the darker Christmas films of recent times. Joe Dante’s Gremlins is a brilliant b-movie homage, with its only let-down being a flaw in its internal logic. If you can’t feed a gremlin after midnight, when can you give them breakfast?

Tuesday 19th March – Outbreak (Sky One at 10pm)

I bloody love a good disaster movie, and this is a bloody good disaster movie. Helmed by Das Boot director Wolfgang Petersen, the film charts the spread of a deadly airborne disease that threatens to wipe out half of mankind if it isn’t contained. Like the great disaster films of the sixties and seventies, this features an impressive ensemble cast that includes Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, Cuba Gooding Jr, and Donald Sutherland. And possibly Marcel the monkey from Friends.

Wednesday 20th March – Serpico (Film 4 at 9pm)

There was a time when Al Pacino was the finest actor on the planet. Some of his work in the seventies is quite simply breathtaking. Here is another example of a master of his craft, being directed by another in Sidney Lumet. Frank Serpico is one of the few honest cops in his New York precinct, but his principles turn his colleagues against him, and put his life in danger when he decides to whistle-blow.

Thursday 21st March – Kickboxer (5USA at 10pm)

I know that Owen Hughes of this parish disagrees with me, and he may well be better qualified than almost anyone when it comes to the work of Jean-Claude Van Damme, but this is categorically and without doubt the finest film in the Muscles from Brussels’ career. JCVD plays Kurt Sloane, the suspiciously European-sounding brother of all-American hero Eric Sloane, who nearly dies when facing the villainous Tong-Po in a kickboxing match in Thailand. Kurt then goes off to train in the forest under the supervision of a wise old fella who gets him to work out while doing odd jobs, and encourages the practice of kicking trees until you break your leg.

It’s basically Karate Kid for grown-ups, and features the single best dance moves committed to film.

Friday 22nd March – Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Film 4 at 11am)

I recently wrote about this film for my 1961 Decade in Film piece so, at the risk at repeating myself, this is Audrey Hepburn at her most incredible. There’s a reason the images of her have become a cliché in recent years, so watch this and see what all the fuss was about.

Saturday 23rd March – Project Nim (BBC2 at 9.30pm)

In an ideal world where Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy received the big screen adaptation it deserved (rather than the okay-ish effort it actually got), it would have been my choice for today (BBC2 at 5pm). There’s also a Danny Boyle night on Film 4 with the brilliant Slumdog Millionaire and 28 Days Later showing from 9pm. However  I’m pretty sure most people have already seen those. S0 I’m going to play my weekly ‘I’ve not seen it but it looks good’ card on the network première of a documentary about a Chimpanzee raised as a child by a New York family in the 1970s, in an attempt to discover if the chimp could learn to understand human communication. I’ll probably watch Rise of the Planet of the Apes directly afterwards.

Sunday 24th March – The Godfather (Film 4 at 9pm)

There’s a nostalgic battle royale as Back to the Future and The Goonies are shown at the same time today (#TeamMarty), but on pretty much any day The Godfather is shown, it is sure to be the best film on TV. Owen recently wrote about it for our Decade in Film series, and it features another incredible performance from Al Pacino. The scene in the diner before his first murder is a master class in film acting, with his ability to tell a character’s story through the eyes simply a joy to watch.