If you don't pay much attention to non-theatrical movies, you may have
missed the fact that Jean-Claude Van Damme is experiencing something of a
career revival. His career is taking the exact opposite path from our favorite
pudgy paladin, Steven Seagal. While Seagal's post-theatrical career has been a
steady stream of worthless dreck, interrupted only by an occasional foray into
mediocrity, Van Damme's recent movies have been the best of his career!
- (7.46) - Sinav (2006)
- (5.98) - Narco (2004)
- (5.93) - Until Death
- (5.79) - Bloodsport
- (5.58) - In Hell
- (5.40) - Timecop
- (5.39) - Hard Target
- (5.38) - Wake of Death
- (5.27) - The Hard Corps
- (5.20) - Universal
- (5.18) - Second in
- (5.10) - Sudden Death
- (5.10) - Kickboxer
- (5.09) - Lionheart
- (4.90) - Replicant
- (4.82) - Rue barbare
- (4.80) - Maximum Risk
- (4.80) - Death Warrant
- (4.70) - Nowhere to Run
- (4.51) - Breakin'
- (4.50) - Legionnaire
- (4.40) - Double Impact
- (4.40) - The Quest
- (4.21) - The Order
- (4.12) - Inferno
- (4.11) - No Retreat, No
- (4.11) - Cyborg
- (3.81) - Knock Off
- (3.81) - Double Team
- (3.61) - Monaco Forever
- (3.14) - Derailed
- (3.02) - Universal
Soldier: The Return (1999)
- (3.01) - Street Fighter
- (2.87) - Black Eagle
His last really poor movie was Derailed in 2002. Since then he has made
seven films, and they are seven of the top eleven in his filmography.
Granted, that was not a high hurdle to clear.
I haven't seen any of the other six, but Until Death is absolutely a
watchable movie. Jean-Claude plays a real bastard of a cop. He's a junkie and
a drunk. He's a disheveled slob. He abuses women. He has no loyalty to his
fellow officers. He treats his partner like shit. He seems to have no friends,
and no gentle feelings left. His life changes dramatically when an attack by
his crooked ex-partner (the ever world-weary Stephen Rea) leaves him in a
coma. When he awakes, after several months without booze or junk, he is
suddenly able to see what an asshole he has become, and starts out to make
The film is not without its problems. The first is character development.
The behavior and dialogue of Van Damme's screen wife indicates that he used to
be a good guy, and not too long ago. After the coma he becomes a good guy
again. What is not clear to me is how and why he became such a prick so fast.
Another problem is that Van Damme doesn't really do any ass-kicking with his
fists or feet. He takes out his antagonists with handguns, which makes him the
same as any other screen cop, and makes an observer wonder why they hired Van
Damme in the first place.
The second half of the film, after he turns from a Belgian Battler to a
Belgian Waffler, righting all the world's wrongs and virtually rebuilding all
the Hurricane Katrina damage with his bare hands, is not as much fun. In fact
it's downright routine. There are some hackneyed "passage of time" montages
showing Rea taking over the New Orleans mobs, then Van Damme does more good
works than Mother Theresa and Jimmy Carter combined. Finally he gets even with
Rea in an improbable face-off in which Jean-Claude and one sixty-year-old fat
guy manage to defeat the entire criminal underworld of Louisiana in a
Notwithstanding those matters, the first half of this film, with Van Damme
as a total prick, is atmospheric and interesting, and the middle-aged Van
Damme surprises us all by making an excellent antihero.
Here's the film clip
of Jean-Claude and Julia Horvath.
This French series, which aspired to combine Masterpiece Theater
pretensions with soft-core erotica, attracted some of the legends of Eurotica
to write and direct. Walerian Borowczyk, director of The Beast and Immoral
Tales, found it to be precisely the kind of material he loved, and contributed
five episodes. Perhaps the greatest contribution of the series to the world
was Penelope Cruz, who got her first acting job and performed her first screen
nudity in the episode Elle et
lui, which was first aired March 22, 1991. Her figure was spectacular.
Here are the film clips
of Penelope Cruz's first screen nudity.
I haven't watched it yet, but as
far as I can see, this cheapie had no merit at all except that it offered your
one and only chance to see Marcia Brady's naughty bits.
Marcia, Marcia, it's always Marcia. Why never any naked pictures of
Here is the film clip of
Maureen McCormick's only screen nudity.
Here are some screen grabs from Mr. Skin:
Two of Monica's recent topless appearances:
* Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).
* White asterisk:
Blue asterisk: not mine.
No asterisk: it probably
Catch the deluxe
version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles,
The first substance abuse film I can recall is Days of Wine and Roses.
Besides a theme song that has become a standard, it fairly accurately
portrayed alcohol addiction, and, true to life, didn't have a happy ending.
The Rose showed the decline of a popular singer due to drugs and booze, and
pretty much explained why we lost Janis Joplin at an early age. Clean and
Sober added a little humor to the story, making it an entertaining watch.
And so on.
It was Sid and Nancy that caused me to reach tilt on this genre. I get it
already. Given the consistently high IMDb scores and the huge number of people
who still enjoy recreational drug use, there must still be a vast audience for
the "drugs suck" genre. As for me, it is a struggle to watch them now.
Candy is about a young couple. She has ambitions of being an artist, he
thinks of himself as a poet, and they are very much in love -- with heroin.
The two care more about the next fix than each other, they lose everything,
their health deteriorates, she starts turning tricks, he steals what he can. This film carefully touches all bases, and ends with the startling conclusion
that drugs suck. If that is a surprise to you, by all means see this film. It is well acted; Abbie
Cornish has lovely breasts which she shows in several scenes; and you will
like most of the characters, despite their addictions. However, if you are
like me and have already learned that drugs suck from film after film, there
is nothing new here for you.
IMDb readers say 7.0, and the film won several awards and nominations.
This is a C, a very solid film,
but not one I am happy to have seen.
Cosma Shiva Hagen, part 2:
Schuld und Liebe
Notes and collages
Carnal Knowledge, Part 4
The Comedy Wire
ABC is planning a sweeps month "20/20" in which alleged DC
madam Pamela Martin will discuss her client list that many powerful men have
been trying to suppress. Martin claims she ran a legit escort service and
didn't offer sex, but the scandal already claimed its first casualty. Randall
L. Tobias, the married, 65-year-old director of U.S.
Foreign Assistance under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, resigned Friday
after his name was revealed to be on Martin's phone records. He said there was
"no sex," and he'd just hired a couple of
girls to give him a massage. He also admitted he'd used another service "with
Central American gals" for massages. He previously directed the White House's
AIDS relief program, where he promoted abstinence and required grant recipients
to swear they oppose prostitution.
* They had to swear that they only paid for massages.
The Ellsworth American newspaper reports that Brandy Bridges of Ellsworth,
Maine, bought one of those environmentally-correct compact fluorescent light
bulbs that can save up to $180 in energy per year. As she was screwing it in,
it slipped and broke on the floor. She called Home Depot to ask how to clean it
up, since she knew it contained mercury. They sent her to state environmental
officials, who tested the room and told her it was over six times the state's
"safe" level for mercury contamination of 300 billionths of a gram per cubic
meter. They sent her to an environmental clean-up
firm, which sealed off the room in plastic and gave her a "low-ball" estimate of
$2,000. The good news is that she'll recoup that in energy savings if the
replacement CFL bulb lasts 11 years.
* So the big difference between incandescent and CFL
bulbs is that the CFL bulb screws you.
This week, over 2,000 scientists who are part of the U.N.'s much-ballyhooed IPCC
group on climate change will put forth proposals to help stop global warming.
They will include producing more biofuel by planting more high-yield
genetically-modified crops and reducing gas and coal emissions by building a lot
more nuclear power plants.
* Also, we need to protect the arctic ice floes by
clubbing more baby seals.
Sony is under fire for a party in Athens to launch the very bloody new video
game, "God of War II." There were actors dressed as characters from Greek
mythology, topless girls feeding grapes to guests, and a still-warm headless
goat. Guests were invited to reach inside its carcass to eat offal from its
stomach, and to compete in an offal-eating contest. Sony apologized after
sickening photos hit the media. But that didn't mollify critics of violent
video games or animal lovers. One British politician called it "stupid and
completely unjustified" ever to slaughter an animal just for a party to promote
* Goats should be protected by the nanny state.
* If they ever throw a party to relaunch "Frogger," remind me not to eat the
Newsweek reports that in the upcoming "Simpsons" movie, Homer dares Bart
to ride his skateboard naked through Springfield, and the scene ends with a
brief flash of Bart's "little part." They say this could make it the first
Hollywood film to show full-frontal male nudity and not get an R-rating.
* Unless the MPAA board decides to have a cow, man.
* It just looks like somebody finally did eat his shorts.
NASA scientists report that Mars has warmed 0.5 degrees Celsius since the 1970s,
and the heating is happening so fast, Mars could lose its southern ice cap.
* See? Our SUVs are even making MARS