Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 25
  2. Negative: 1 out of 25

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Critic Reviews

  1. A reality-twisting cousin to "Being John Malkovich" -- showcases a Van Damme who's sly like a fox about his own image.
  2. One of the best movies playing in Portland is, I kid you not, a loopy dramatic thriller starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.
  3. Post-JCVD, we'll never again be able to think of Van Damme as just another kickboxer turned actor. Van Damme is an actor, pure and simple, and proves that he is just as deft and accomplished as the movies in which he appears.
  4. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    JCVD is a whimsical twist on the biopic, sending up heist movies and breaking cinematic rules to interesting effect. At a critical moment, Van Damme rises out of a tense hostage situation to look into the camera and speak movingly to the audience. He has never seemed more convincing.
  5. 75
    Van Damme says worse things about himself than critics would dream of saying, and the effect is shockingly truthful.
  6. The film sags in the middle section, and it's more a novelty item than a fully formed work . But it's very entertaining. And Van Damme proves himself a brave, possibly foolhardy actor, which is more than Steven Seagal ever did.
  7. Unlike "Being John Malkovich," which JCVD sometimes resembles, there is no secret portal to the star's head; instead, the audience gets a fleeting glimpse through the smeared window of his soul.
  8. A shrewd satire about stardom and the cult of celebrity.
  9. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    JCVD may not be the first meta-musclehead movie, but it's certainly the most surprising.
  10. JCVD juggles humor with whomping martial-arts moves and a kind of melancholy star turn from the melancholy, muscular star.
  11. An inspired melding of action thriller, satire and biographical drama through the looking glass of a funhouse mirror.
  12. You'll respect him more as an actor if you see this film – and you should, even if you haven't enjoyed the action movies he's made over two decades.
  13. JCVD should entertain both movie and action buffs. Van Damme proves once and for all that he's not just a set of glistening pectorals. However, he's still in no danger of being asked to play Hamlet.
  14. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    A French-language meta-movie parody par excellence, constitutes the headiest stretch of the beefy star's career since, well, ever.
  15. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Van Damme has been known as a martial-arts legend, movie star and pain in the ass. But never an actor -- until now.
  16. 70
    This functions perfectly well as a Van Damme vehicle, but it's also a funny and poignant look at a man trapped by his own ridiculous reputation.
  17. 70
    Inventive, insightful and utterly surprising movie. It takes you places you're not prepared to go: namely, into the soul of a performer best known for flying back kicks. Who, by the way, can act.
  18. 67
    A canny piece of autobiography that looks at the man behind the legend and the legend behind the man.
  19. 60
    What exactly is JCVD? Comedy? Confession? Confusion? No one will ever mistake these backstage shenanigans for "Irma Vep." But as a self-regarding expression of masculine angst, it's a Damme sight more fun than "Synecdoche."
  20. Who knew? Turns out, Jean-Claude Van Damme is a funny guy, and a pretty good actor, too. Fans may already be aware of this, but JCVD is likely to introduce a whole new Van Damme to everybody else.
  21. 60
    The giddy near-brilliance of its central conceit is squandered by flat execution.
  22. At one point, Van Damme delivers a long, tortured soliloquy about his alienating stardom to the camera in a single take. It's the most amazing piece of acting I've ever seen by a martial artist. But the film itself doesn't rise above the level of a good try.
  23. 50
    Some of this is affecting, some of it tedious, and the film's inconsistencies of tone are made more glaring by its peculiar look.
  24. 50
    Van Damme's remarkable performance -- I say this in all seriousness -- comes pretty close to redeeming the picture's murky and overly complicated artistic intentions.
  25. 38
    Combines a sketch-comedy premise with pacing like a philosophy seminar.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 69 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 26
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 26
  3. Negative: 2 out of 26
  1. Aug 6, 2012
    Who said Jean Claude Van Damme can't act? This movie is really good. It really shows all the prejudice people have against Van Damme after allWho said Jean Claude Van Damme can't act? This movie is really good. It really shows all the prejudice people have against Van Damme after all his bad action movies in the past. He wants to put all that behind himself and move on. And this movie really shows how great he really is. Full Review »
  2. JG
    Feb 2, 2009
    A very refreshing action movie, with a heartbreaking performance by Van Damme itself. The monologue's great!
  3. KatherineL
    Jan 27, 2009
    I watched this movie at a screening at my school and was really impressed by it. It was an interesting way to tell a story and is unlike I watched this movie at a screening at my school and was really impressed by it. It was an interesting way to tell a story and is unlike anything I've seen Jean Claude Van Damme do. The main story is fictional, but Jean Claude basically plays himself. Very well made film. Excellent acting. I would recommend this to just about anyone. Full Review »