Flicking through the film listing on the flight back from Thailand a few weeks ago, I noticed they were showing a film featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Does anyone remember him? I do. When I was a teenage boy he was one of the biggest stars around, and we all thought any film with him in was awesome. I think I’d probably grown out of him around the time of Time Cop in 1994 and had barely heard of him since.
But a while back I did a portable hard-disk swap with a friend which contained all my old favourite Van Damme films from the late ’80s and early ’90s and so I decided to watch a few of them again when I was bored.
Somewhat unsurprisingly I found them to be utter tosh, but they are unintentionally funny. I mean, they’re so bad that they become almost good. Maybe that was the secret all along? These films were rated 18, but did anyone of that age who wasn’t a complete retard actually watch them, let alone enjoy them? I watched most of them when I was about 15, which shows you how tightly controlled the videos finding their way into a boarding school TV room was. If the teachers hadn’t been so busy wife swapping…
Anyway, where was I? That’s right. Somebody obviously had it in for Van Damme’s career right from the off, somebody in the wardrobe department. Here’s a scene from Bloodsport (1988).
He’s been decked out in cowboy boots, grey chinos which are too short, a black vest, and a cheap looking short leather jacket with the sleeves rolled up. Who the hell rolls the sleeves up on a leather jacket?! Were fashions really this bad in the ’80s? Of course, the black vest came in handy in a later scene where Van Damme shows off his muscles as he smashes his fist through some bricks.
But couldn’t they have achieved this without our Belgian hero wearing his trousers like Obelix? No wonder he sunk without a trace halfway through the ’90s.