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Jean Claude Van Damme - Behind Closed Doors review

REVIEWS - TV

Without the Rocky montage, Van Damme is just a Cantona wannabe...

Jean Claude Van Damme - Behind Closed Doors Review

On paper, a reality show about Jean Claude Van Damme, star of such films as Blood Sport and Street Fighter, sounds promising enough. Who doesn’t love poking fun at the rich and famous? Such shows as Stephen Segal: Lawman are a testament to the success of such a formula. Behind Closed Doors does, to a certain extent, play to this audience, giving them a chance to see how the man behind the muscles copes with real life situations.

Seagal's Lawman gets its laughs by surrounding its star with real working people, who spend most of the time telling him that police work is not how it appears in his movies. Behind Closed Doors on the other hand follows Jean Claude in his own environment, surrounded by the glitz and glamour of the various cities he visits around the world. Whether this makes for a better show is debatable, but it certainly lacks the humour of Segal’s contribution to reality TV.

The man himself, Jean Claude Van DammeThe show consists of what seems to be the three main aspects of Jean Claude’s life; his films, his family and the parties he attends. The first two are interesting enough - getting a behind the scenes look at his fights, with the added bonus of seeing him slip up and occasionally make contact with a kick adds a bit of drama. Furthermore, it helps the audience gain an understanding of the commitment and, although occasional, injury that can result from such work.

The family sections offer a more human side, but they are almost too normal to provide any entertainment value. There are entire segments which feature just his wife or children where not a lot happens. That said, amongst all the general silliness of Behind Closed Doors, you can’t help but feel a little sorry for Jean Claude’s wife, who seems to spend most of her time in LA, with an occasional visit from her kids, waiting to see her husband while he’s off around the world, partying and kicking in stunt doubles. Again, the audience gains a deeper understanding on his lifestyle, and the sacrifices that must be made to ensure its survival.

Watching a 50 year old man party with 20 year old girls is more than a bit tedious (and a little uncomfortable). Whether it’s in Paris, Hong Kong, Dubai or anywhere else in the world, it’s always the same thing. Jean Claude drinks too much, and sulks the next morning. While I’m sure that going to these clubs makes for a fun night out, watching an old action star attempting to recapture his youth, turns out to be a fairly dull night in. What's worse, its not what you want to see from such an iconic action hero.

Behind Closed Doors can get a little confusing at times. One minute the voice-over will make such comments as “With his zen in tatters, Jean Claude heads off to the studio” with a slight smirk in his voice, but the next we see Jean Claude himself delivering a confusing and emotional speech on how overpopulation will destroy the earth.

“The population is growing” he says “and this is bad because… we’re eating the planet.”

While this statement is a little vague, it is not, in itself, strange. However, at the same time he is using the toilet, and staring directly into the camera...and that's where the obscurity of such a situation comes from. By the time he’s done washing his hands, the man is nearly in tears about how “F***ed up” the whole situation is. It’s unclear whether we’re supposed to be on board with these speeches, or whether they’re shown as an example of his eccentricities, and we get no help from the narrator who, for some reason, grows very quiet at these points.

Another slightly puzzling aspect of the show is The Big Fight. From the second episode onwards, Jean Claude is determined to beat a man, who is over 10 years younger than him, in a big televised fight. He is shown going through intense training and constantly fretting about it. There are even a number of visits to his old coach. It comes up time and time again, looming over him as he worries about his Hollywood lifestyle damaging his body. Despite all this build up, we get nothing. There is a training montage near the end of the last episode and then is goes into an overview of the series. It is, to say the least, a little disappointing.

JCVD – Behind Closed Doors is good for a laugh, and fans of the Muscles from Brussels will get a real kick out of the behind the scenes look at his films, in particular his fight scenes. However, for all but his most die-hard fans there’s not a lot of interesting content here and the DVD includes no extras.

3 stars


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