Jean-Claude Van Damme was one of the big players in the 1990s action film game. Known as the Muscles from Brussels, he could do martial arts fights as well as the splits better than any one of the era. After big hits like Double Impact, Kickboxer and Bloodsport his name in lights dimmed. Since then he has disappeared from any big budget action or martial arts films. Over the past two decades or so Van Damme has been relegated to the tough world of b movies. Straight to video type films which never screened in theatres were all that came to him. Bad films with small budgets which no one saw and critics panned.
Then in 2008 a satire film aptly titled JCVD brought him back into the spotlight. Its laughs totally relied on making fun of situations which were very much like those out of the Muscles from Brussels’ own life. Not only was it well constructed and funny but it also showed two important things – that Van Damme didn’t mind laughing at himself but he could be, with the right material, a decent actor.
So now, at the age of 60, he is still making action films. They are still largely of the b movie variety, but hey, a guy has to make a living. Now, Jean-Claude Van Damme is on Netflix. When you think of it the streaming platform is actually the perfect vehicle for his films. A place where people come to unwind, largely turn their brains off and be entertained. That is exactly how you could describe his latest film, The Last Mercenary.
While his hair is….well, different and he fights little less, he is still able to be a somewhat believable action hero. A new twist here is that he also asked to be funny. And you know what, he isn’t too bad. This is pretty much a satire of all the special agent type films. Like the action, the attempts at humour are rather broad. Most are just ridiculous, but the silliness does wear you down and you’ll find yourself laughing. Even enjoying it a little.
For the past 25 years a former super secret agent so elusive he was known as The Mist, Richard (Jean-Claude Van Damme) has earned a living as a mercenary. Now he is pulled back into his former life when Archibald (Samir Decazza – first feature film), a young man who doesn’t know that Richard is his father, finds himself part of a government plot. Now Richard is back relying on the skills he learned while operating as a secret agent, some old assets, and teaming up with an incompetent government employee (Alban Ivanov – Inseparables) and a young woman (Assa Sylla – Girlhood) with plenty of street smarts. Richard will do everything to protect Archibald and be the father he never could.