Aroview: ‘The Muscles from Brussels’ holds a mirror up to himself in this sly, semi-autobiographical take on the once-famous action star’s fall from grace.
Fashioning a story of desperation around Van Damme’s own rudderless career, dir. El Mechri’s concept for the film eventually arrives at a hostage drama, in which the luckless Jean-Claude finds himself acting the hero in a standoff between police and perpetators. No more satisfying than the actor’s straight-to-video works though, viewers (and misty-eyed fans) will gain so much more from the clever delivery of self-deprecating and referential asides, notably a six-minute monologue by Van Damme, in which he breaks the fourth wall to reflect somberly on his failed marriages, drug addiction, and movie nadirs.
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4 stars (Very Good) JCVD shows that he is more than just a brainless action star and opens up to the audience much more than ever before. This is Van Damme's answer to Rourke's 'The Wrestler' and Sly's 'Rocky'. Now if only the video quality was as good as the acting.~Tom H