Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Van Dammage: Behind Closed Doors

"I'm tired, I want some rest. I've been doing, how many movies now? I don't even know. I never count them, I never look at them. Been around the world for 20, 30, 40 times...seeing same hotels, getting older with me. They change the wall papers of the room but my face get more cripple..."
     Jean-Claude Van Damme

Believe it or not, a few years ago I was out of work with no clue what was coming next as a random temp job lead to a decent opportunity at a huge corporation for nearly 4 years.  That came to an end and I found myself struggling to figure out next steps.  But for 8 wonderful weeks in 2011, every Tuesday I'd have at least one constant in my life, Jean-Claude Van Damme's reality show, Behind Closed Doors.  Produced for the United Kingdom's ITV4, BCD followed the Muscles From Brussels as he jetted around the world making movies, meeting fans, playing with his dogs and just trying to relax while partying into the wee morning hours, training for a kickboxing match and speaking from his big heart.  Now, U.S. cable network REELZ will be broadcasting the series starting in October, coincidentally the month Wham Bam Van Damme entered the world. 

The first episode finds JCVD visiting a quiet church in his hometown of Brussels, Belgium, discussing the drive that saw him drop out of high school, take up karate, ballet and weights, move to America, struggle and eventually become one of the world's most famous movie stars.  The glory days of his career a distant memory, Van Damme's brand recognition is still enough to keep him headlining movies for the Direct to Video market made in Eastern Europe.  His two kids, Kristopher and Bianca join their famous dad while saving stray dogs.  Van Damme travels to Russia to film a cameo in a 3D comedy based on Napoleon, parties early into the morning then returns to Belgium to see his mother, father and half dozen dogs he's rescued from around the world.  It's a very intimate look into the life of a very famous person known for his professional, self-made accomplishments and personal, self-destructive antics.  After so many years of charming audiences with a boyish innocence mixed with muscular, martial arts fueled mayhem, it might be a shock to casual fans to see the modern Van Damme so sensitive and prone to tears.  But for anyone who has followed the Belgian Bomber through his career, it's that surprising mix of heart and physicality that makes him just a little more interesting than Arnold or Sly.

During shooting of the show, we watch JCVD work on movies like Weapon, Dragon Eyes and Kung-Fu Panda 2 while trying to get healthy for a proposed kickboxing match with Thai Gold medalist boxer Somrak Khamsing.  Not discussed on the show is Van Damme's minor heart attack or complication.  The Muscles From Brussels looks a bit frail in some segments but a hilarious Christmas episode finds him in terrific shape as he puts his family and daughter's boyfriend through a holiday workout.  Van Damme regulars like writer/director Sheldon Lettich, longtime karate coach Claude Goetz along with Bloodsport and Double Impact co-star Bolo Yeung pop up in addition to recent co-stars Scott Adkins and Cung Le.  Action weirdos like me will spot fitness model and martial artist Julien Greaux along with 87Eleven fight choreographer Larnell Stovall training and auditioning daughter Bianca.

Showcasing his still worldwide appeal, Mr. Van Damme travels the globe, hitting up Vancouver, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Paris, Russia, Dubai, Belgium and more filming cameos, commercials and meeting with local investor types looking to get into the Van Damme business.  During filming, Van Damme had received a request but not a script for Expendables 2 from Stallone and seemed determined to clean up his rock and roll lifestyle to get in shape for the fight to clean up his soul.  Cut to 3 years later, Expendables 2 has come and gone, heck, a third installment was just released in August.  One powerful scene shows Van Damme erupting in anger and sadness when he learns that the producers of the Bloodsport reboot don't want him involved.  That film probably isn't any closer to being produced than it was then. The fight with Khamsing never materialized and Van Damme has kept busy post EX2 with his first foray into comedy, Welcome to the Jungle and starred in well received commercials for Volvo, GoDaddy and Coors Light.  Another reality show, 360 World Tour, was teased but has yet to be broadcast.  Same goes for a years in the making workout video.  As for me?  I'm kicking ass and doing so well I almost can't live with myself.  Wade Garrett style.

No comments:

Post a Comment