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He's no Mickey Rourke, but Jean-Claude Van Damme deserves credit for bravery.

If Mickey Rourke can get an Oscar in 2009, then Jean-Claude Van Damme can be lauded for his acting abilities for the first time in his long, largely artless career. JCVD is an intriguing meta experiment by 30-year-old French director Mabrouk El Mechri: After losing custody of his daughter, a misunderstanding leads the locals to believe he is robbing a Belgian post office---he's actually a hostage---and he becomes a bizarre folk hero. Working with a wry, winking script, El Mechri displays visual prowess with two stunning single takes: a four-minute action sequence, botched at the last second by falling scenery, and a direct-to-camera improvised monologue that spans Van Damme's life as Brussels street rat to international action star to cocaine burnout. Van Damme isn't good enough to sustain a comeback like Rourke's, but credit is due for putting himself out there just as bravely. Monday February 9, 7pm, $10, Park Lane, 5657 Spring Garden
Rated R (MPAA) · 92 min. · 2008
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Director: Mabrouk El Mechri
Writer: Frédéric Bénudis and Christophe Turpin
Producer: Sidonie Dumas
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, François Damiens, Zinedine Soualem, Karim Belkhadra, Jean-François Wolff, Anne Paulicevich, François Beukelaers, John Flanders, Saskia Flanders and Dean Gregory


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