Tuesday, November 24, 2009

400th Post Special!: Van-Damme-sploitation

I really don't care for Jean Claude Van-Damme and, quite frankly, I never have. Don't get me wrong- I liked Timecop as a kid, just like everyone else. However, to me, his appeal was pretty limited and he really only played maybe one or two roles. Then, of course, came Double Team, which pretty much showed how much he had to offer. Fun fact: the spin-off film- Simon Sez- features Dane Cook as the 'wacky sidekick.' Just don't base your opinion of him on that shitty film, please. Aside from the films he has made, Van-Damme is notable for the films that he did not make, despite them being sequels to his own films. Much like Bruce Lee, he is plagued with films starring wannabes. You're known solely as a wannabe/fill-in for Jean Claude Van-Damme- that's royally sad. Let's take a look at some of them, shall we?

Kickboxer 2-5 (yes, 5): In the wake of Jean Claude's film, the series focused on an unseen/unmentioned third brother named David. The second film establishes in the opening that the villain from Part 1 (Tong Po) killed both recognizable characters in the interim. Lazy screenwriting or clever ass-covering- you decide! They replaced Van-Damme with Sasha Mitchell, who is actually pretty decent, even if he is only known from being on the sitcom Step by Step.

However, this series does have some real issues. Part 2 continues the Tong Po story, but that is forgotten for Part 3, where he battles crime in Rio De Janeiro. Part 4 brought it back, while Part 5 is something of a mess. Basically, they kill of Sasha's character and introduce ANOTHER new hero- Matt Reeves, as played by Mark Dacascos. Oy vey!

Bloodsport 2-4: This series ignores the first film and pretty much just focuses on a random guy who happens to do martial arts. He is played by Daniel Bernhardt, a man whose career lived in the 1990s solely based on his vague resemblance to Van-Damme and his martial arts skills. Most people will just know him as the new Agent in The Matrix Reloaded though.

The upside with this series is that it stars a slew of genre actors that deserve better. James Hong, Pat Morita and John Rhys-Davies play parts in it. As for Bernhardt, the less said the better. The man has less emotional expression than Van-Damme ever had! Fun fact: Bloodsport 4's plot involves Bernhardt going undercover in prison, which is the plot of a different Van-Damme movie- Death Warrant. Double-dipping in the rip-off department, huh?

Timecop 2: They have only made one of these (so far) and it is not made to be a real sequel to the Van-Damme one. This was made in the vein of The Net 2.0 and Wargames 2, which are pretty much just rehashes. The film stars Jason Scott Lee, who has been on a downward career spiral since Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. It's pretty sad that his only major work in the interim has been Dracula II and III.

Universal Soldier 2-3: These ones are a little complicated. Basically, between Universal Soldier and Universal Soldier: The Return, some company made two TV movies in the series. They are pretty much ignored by everyone and are not canonical. Let's just move on, shall we?

Cyborg 2-3: Most people know Cyborg 2 as Angelina Jolie's first real film of note and the confusion it has caused. Basically, Mrs. Jolie has been vague about her actual age and, depending on reports, she may have been under 18 when they made this. As for Cyborg 3, it is a non-canonical film with Malcolm McDowell. More on that film in the future.

So yeah, that poor man has been exploited. At the same time, however, he has a semi-comeback in the works thanks to JCVD. Maybe in a few years, he will make a whole new slew of movies to have bad sequels made out of them. I, for one, cannot wait for DB.

Up next, I cover the film that nearly broke me. Since I am still here, you get to feel the pain with me. Stay tuned...


  1. Thats what he gets for having a sweet name though. It comes with the territory, and he had to have known that when he was being born. I havent seen a single one of the exploitative sequels on the list somehow, I have only seen the original films in each series, which is still impressive considering my dedication to Horror

  2. Most of the movies make their circulation on the big cable movie channels like Showtime and HBO pretty regularly. The one you will more than likely see first is 'Cyborg 2,' which is played somewhere at least every other day.