Films & Schedules

  • JCVD

  • Mabrouk El Mechri

French, English
93 minutes

Production Company:
Gaumont/ Samsa Films/Artemis Productions/RTBF
Executive Producer:
Marc Fiszman, Jani Thiltgespatrick Quinet, Arlette Zylberberg
Sidonie Dumas
Mabrouk El Mechri, Frederic Benudis
Production Designer:
François Dickes
Pierre-Yves Bastard
Kako Kelber
Philippe Kohn, Patrice Grisolet, Thomas Gauder
Gast Waltzing
Principal Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, François Damiens, Zinedine Soualem, Karim Belkhadra

Canadian Distributor:
Peace Arch Entertainment
US Distributor:
Peace Arch Entertainment
International Sales Agent:

Thursday September 0411:59PM RYERSON Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Friday September 0503:15PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 1 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

The Muscles from Brussels is back!

Being Jean-Claude Van Damme is tough. Sure, he is an internationally recognized celebrity (and possibly the world's most famous Belgian), but this star seems to have fallen from grace with a recent history of direct-to-video flicks. In a surprising yet crafty career move, Van Damme plays himself – with all his foibles in plain view – in JCVD, a rollicking action-comedy examination of the nature of fame.

Adding to Van Damme's worries are a parasitic agent, financial troubles and an emotionally fraught custody battle for his daughter in which the prosecuting attorney rips apart the action star's bone-cracking collected works to make a case for an unsuitable father figure. In order to clear his head, Van Damme returns to his family home in Belgium, where the myth of the indestructible hero hasn't been completely shattered.

After bouncing a cheque to his lawyer, Van Damme goes to a post office to make a wire transfer, only to stumble into a heist and be taken hostage. When the police catch a glimpse of the superstar in the middle of the chaos, they jump to the conclusion that he has finally snapped and pulled the robbery himself. Under the barrel of a gun, Van Damme is revealed to be an ordinary guy, filled with fears, contradictions and hopes. How can he live up to the legend he has built?

Both a madcap tribute to the star's martial arts moves and an examination of the true essence of a hero, JCVD makes sure that its subject is in on the joke, immersing him into a reality similar to that found in Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich. Aware of his limitations, Van Damme conveys a stoic deadpan that director Mabrouk El Mechri moulds into comedic gold. There is also a dramatic centre to the film, and Van Damme delivers a sincere and moving monologue that must be seen to be believed.

A hilariously entertaining, surprising film, JCVD tells the comeback story of a screen hero who has been on the receiving end of kicks that are getting harder and harder to take.

Colin Geddes

Mabrouk El Mechri was born in Versailles. He wrote and directed the shorts Mounir et Anita (98), Génération cutter (00) and Concours de circonstance (03), as well as the feature-length Virgil (05). JCVD (08) is his most recent film.

Cadillac People's Choice Award