How Much Van Dammage Can You Withstand?

By  · Published on August 17th, 2012

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; every bit as important as Time Cop. This is the Film School Rejects column celebrating movies that are damme stupid, damme shallow, and damme awesome! Every week we tear into a lovably bad film like it was a Belgian waffle, which by the way was the nickname of our indecisive foreign exchange roommate in college. We will roundhouse a cinematic stinky cheese in the face with mockery, making plenty of surprise sex faces in slow motion as we do so.

But as we are kicking it, we are simultaneously revealing our fondness for these flicks; kicking in the face with the other foot the notion that they are without merit. It’s actually a very difficult maneuver that has us executing a groin-punishing mid-air split. As we ice down our tender bits, we will gorge ourselves on a nauseatingly tasty snack themed to the movie we just watched.

This week, the Alamo Drafthouse played host to one of the most epic showcases of epic film epicness to ever be epic. In celebration of the impending/now(ish) release of The Expendables 2, a tribute to one of its newest cast members was conceived. Three classic Jean-Claude Van Damme films, at least as classic as that combination of words allows, would serve as the appetizer for the bloody bullet feast that was sure to be The Expendables 2.

Now, Jean-Claude Four Names has never been our particular cup of whatever Belgians drink instead of tea…beer? However, as we haven’t seen everything the Muscles from Brussels has ever made, and given that Street Fighter is indeed one of the most crucial benchmarks in the evolution of the human race, we thought we’d roll up our sleeves and dive head-long into this action marathon dubbed Van Dammage.

For us, that event title seemed absolutely appropriate…or appropriately absolute? Anyway, it made sense. Often times watching a Jean-Claude Carn Sarnit movie is a painful endeavor. It becomes an endurance test, a rite of passage, a test of your cinephile manhood. So the question bred of an event like this becomes, how much Van Dammage can you withstand?

In an effort to make something geeky into something nerdy, we’ve deiced to explore this challenge in terms of a popular role playing board game. JCV-D&D, if you will. Let’s imagine you are assigned a certain number of hit points, or in this case we’ll call them kick points. As the various idiocies of the soon-to-be-revealed action flicks assault your senses, you will incur Van Dammage. You’ll start with 150 kick points. With every flaw, do a saving throw. If you score less than 18, you incur the Van Dammage.

Strap yourselves in, grab your multifaceted death counter – a.k.a your twenty-sided DIE – and prepare for an encounter with the greatest Belgian export since that guy who invented the saxophone. Look it up!

Bloodsport (That Movie Where Van Damme Solves All Problems By Kicking)

Luke Mullen loves this movie, he also loves Cocktail. Take two points of Van Dammage.

At one point, the supposedly hot female lead’s aggressively 80s haircut makes her head look like an upended Japanese man-o-war. Take five points of Van Dammage.

During the montage round of the tournament, Juan-Carlos Van Damme fights a large man who looks remarkably like Grace Jones. Take five points of Van Dammage.

The combatants of the tournament are made up of some of the most cartoonishly racist caricatures of various nationalities, sometimes played by actors from countries on the opposite side of planet from the country of the person they’re portraying. You start to wonder if this is Kumite or the final card of Wrestlemania VIII. Take five points of Van Dammage.

Bloodsport champions the very illogical notion that being skilled in actual fighting automatically makes one adept at fight-based videogames. By that rationale, John McEnroe should be the world’s greatest Pong player and I should be super awesome at the Wii Sit. Take five points of Van Dammage.

JCVD trains for the tournament by serving tea blindfolded. This will of course come in handy if Kumite is a Japanese word that means “housed entirely within Downton Abbey.” Take ten points of Van Dammage.

There is a foot chase in Bloodsport so unrepentantly silly as to feel like it was written by the gang from Scooby-Doo. One wonders why it didn’t end with someone removing JCVD’s mask to show that the culprit was actually Old Man Dudikoff. Take fifteen points of Van Dammage.

If you don’t like Bloodsport’s theme song, “Fight to Survive,” lose all remaining points.

Lionheart (That Other Movie Where Van Damme Solves All Problems By Kicking)

Only movie to ever view “let’s do lunch” as an acceptable action one-liner. Take five points of Van Dammage.

What we have here is essentially Kickboxer meets Bum Fights, Vol. 4. Take five points of Van Dammage.

The femme fatale of Lionheart has the most perfectly square head this side of a Gumby villain. Take five of Van Dammage.

Clothes shopping montage. Bad in girlie movies, worse in a Van Damme movie wherein he’s trying on girlie clothes. Is that a dashiki? Take ten points of Van Dammage.

Van Damme fights in blue jeans. I don’t care if they were Levi’s, Kickies, or JCVDKNY, it’s ill-advised fighting attire. Take ten points of Van Dammage.

Jean-Claude has a blaxploitation era sidekick despite the fact that the movie does not take place in the 70s. He talks fast, drops “muthafucka” at the drop of a hat, and even has a scene in which he is eating fried chicken. Classic. Racism. Take ten points of Van Dammage.

The fights in Lionheart are so random as to seem constructed less by the screenwriter and more by the fine people over at Mad Libs. He battles a wildly spry surfer dude in an empty pool, a beach bum weightlifter on a racquetball court, and a kilt-clad Scotsman in a parking garage full of “badasses” on rollerskates. Highlander Rollerboogie; it can be only dumb. Take ten points of Van Dammage.

The final opponent is a towering beast resembling a cross between Caesar from Planet of the Apes and Community’s Star Burns. Take five points of Van Dammage.

Universal Soldier (Night of the Living Marines)

The screenwriters crafted a great concept here. And by “crafted” I mean “saw Robocop once and also noticed the military existed.” Take five points of Van Dammage.

If Linda Hamilton and Helen Hunt had a baby that was then given lessons in frantic elocution by Quentin Tarantino and stress management by Kate Capshaw, you’d have the female lead in Universal Soldier. Take five points of Van Dammage.

Dolph Lundgren’s fashionable necklaces courtesy of Carti-ear. If you laughed at that, take no Van Dammage. Otherwise, crit.

Yet another movie where we see Jean-Claude Sans Pants. This guy can’t wait to show us his kick-sculpted bon bons. Take five points of Van Dammage.

How do the government actually make the Unisols? The writers sure as hell have no idea. At one point Jerry Orbach, or as I call him Mr. DirtyDancingDad, offers this dubiously scientific quip: “By hyper-accelerating the bodies, we could create living tissue.” That’s not science, you’re just saying words! Does that mean I can strap Charles Bronson to the front of a speeding train and bring him back to life? No seriously, tell me, does it? I have a great idea for Death Wish 6. Take ten points of Van Dammage.

Much like The Vietnam War, it was hard to tell if Universal Soldier would ever end. Jean-Christ God Damme, this thing has four acts! By the end, I expected Luc Deveraux to be roundhouse kicking hobbits in Bag End. Take ten points of Van Dammage.

How’d you do?

0 or less – You are Jean-Crit Van Donne

1–50 – You’re still kicking

51–100 – Dammed impressive

101–150 – You liked Hard Target, didn’t you?

Junkfood Pairing: Banana Split Waffles

As this event was the coming together of the Alamo’s Zzang!!! and Bangarang! series, and as the Expendables is it’s own combo plate of aging testosterone, it seemed necessary to choose an unholy hybrid for this week’s junkfood pairing. As Belgium has a long, I’m assuming proud association with the waffle, and as JCVD has a long, cringe-inducing history with polarizing his ankles, why not venture down to your local IHOP and treat yourself to an order of banana split waffles.

If they inform you that they no longer carry those, introduce them to your lawyer Spinderson Kickskull, Esq.

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Longtime FSR columnist, current host of FSR’s Junkfood Cinema podcast. President of the Austin Film Critics Association.