We weren't kidding when we presaged a renaissance for Jean-Claude Van Damme, whose Cannes hit JCVD — an indie satire featuring the action star as a forlorn, tormented version of his once ass-kicking self — is drawing high praise ahead of its limited US release this weekend. Eighty percent of critics at Rotten Tomatoes are behind it, but frankly, as they're part of the reason Van Damme was ever a punchline in the first place: To hell with them. A new pair of interviews with the Phoenix of Belgium sums up all you need to know about a comeback that makes Mickey Rourke's look puny in comparison.After all, Rourke — an Oscar frontrunner for his turn in The Wrestler — once grazed on Hollywood's A-list pasture, from which banishment amounted to losing an opportunity that genre hero Van Damme never really had. He's still technically in the action ghetto, by most estimations, but he told Details that he exceeded his Timecop-era chops by just skipping the "acting" part altogether:
I didn't play — it was a truthful situation. That's why it's so good. Thank God I was 47. It was a good timing for me to peel back the skin and show the inside of the fiber — and that dry blood, those scars, you know? It's very strange — movie therapy. [...] Sometimes you have tears about memories, but in that sadness you find joy. The drama and pain of being alone helps you when you go back to normal. You can appreciate it much more.
The "inside of the fiber"? Can you elaborate, Jean-Claude?
I saw myself on the screen — I was disturbed. I was not like, "Wow, I made a great movie, some great action." No, no, no — I was disturbed for a couple of days. The truth is like, why did I open myself so much? I opened the fruit, I peeled the skin, I cut the pulp. I put the pit, and I cut the pit, and I show inside the pit to the audience. I didn't just cut the pulp, you know what I'm saying?
Not really, though it sounds Oscar-friendly enough, and in any case, we really can't wait to see how this applies to the just-announced third installment of that famously introspective franchise Universal Soldier. Just give him the trophy already.