I’ve just finished watching the first season of Jean Claude Van Johnson featuring Jean Claude Van Damme, and I have to say, it’s perfect. Forget Breaking Bad, forget The Sopranos, if you want to have a look at television excellence, look no further than Jean Claude Van Johnson.
Well, to be completely honest, the show is kind of terrible, but you should manage to get at least one belly laugh out of every episode. It’s kind of a bizarre mish-mash that seems mainly to have been inspired by JCVD, another film that pays tribute to Jean Claude Van Damme even as it brutally mocks him, and you are left wondering if JCVD is in on the joke or he takes the tribute at face value.
Jean Claude Van Johnson begins with a disjointed monologue spoken by Jean Claude Van Damme who reflects on how he was in Bloodsport and Timecop, a film “kind of like Looper, but in my opinion much better than Looper.” In fact, a lot of JCVJ deals with JCVD referencing films he was in during his prime. In one critical scene, JCVD infiltrates a factory in disguise only to encounter, purely by chance mind you, a factory worker who happens to look exactly like him. Quick on his feet, JCVD tries to avert suspicion by claiming to be a time traveling version of the same man, but this plan goes awry when he gets cornered into saying he thinks Looper is a better film than Timecop–only to have the factory worker violently disagree. As JCVD puts the unfortunate worker into a choke hold, he offers the consolation, “You have very good taste in movies.”
How could you not like that?
According to the premise of the film, JCVD the actor has only ever been a cover for JCVJ the “super spy.” However, he’s the kind of super spy that tosses non-edible table decoration into his mouth and has to be told, “don’t eat that.” He also frequents a trendy restaurant that serves only Dry Ramen. “Excuse me, my ramen is dry.” “Yeah dude, that’s what we do.” “Can you put some water on it?” “Actually we don’t have access to water.” The Dry Ramen restaurant is near his lavish home, that has coconut water in the pipes rather than regular water of course, and JCVD subsides on pop tarts. He also cruises around on a Segway with sad French music playing in the background.
When JCVD decides he wants to get back into the acting/spy business, he’s signed on for the lead in “Huck” an action packed thriller based on Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. You see…the only real problem with this concept is that you can’t make a spoof of an action flick without it becoming an action flick itself. The Last Action Hero tried to do that and kind of failed (although, personally I just think the idiot critics were just too self-absorbed to recognize the subtext–but literary criticism is more about preserving an appearance of genius rather than contributing of value to any larger discussion).
So, yeah, in JCVJ, JCVD continually messes things up and is somehow saved by his own tremendous career. At one point, JCVD is even called “the greatest actor in the world,” surely the first time such a line has ever been uttered. But, I have to say, JCVD comes through this show with his dignity more or less intact. He’s certainly the greatest splits performer in the world, and heck, that ain’t nuthin!
JCVJ can be seen on Amazon prime. Read the episode descriptions, they’re funny.