In recent years, Jean-Claude Van Damme has more than once owned mixed martial arts and comedy. The Last Mercenary, released on Netflix, is proof of that. However, this action comedy seems a far cry from the sometimes-borrowed meta fantasy, from JCVD to Jean-Claude Van Johnson. So what’s the value?
Imagine simultaneously being revealed to a child with a fragile heart that Santa Claus does not exist and that his parents have adopted him. It would be nice to show him that at the age of 13, and wearing his ugly skin, he could start to suspect something, his disappointment was nothing short of great.
The same goes for audiences who will rush to The Last Mercenary hoping to find an invested Jean-Claude Van Damme, or humor lovers who pray that this French comedy offers some laughs worthy of its name. One would expect it, but it still hurts.
It’s not that Brussels has become such a phenomenal actor, but if there’s one outstanding quality we should recognize at JCVD, it’s overinvestment. From Bloodsport – No matter what, through Universal Soldier: Absolute Combat , Double Team or JCVD , martial artists always give their all, in every role. He multiplies facial expressions, pushing each expression to the point of cosmic pride, all packed into an often mesmerizing physical show. An absolute first title that sometimes borders on directness, and makes nearly all of his characters a formidable surface for identification, and his acting is a form of naive and joyous expression.
Everything disappears here. The artist seemed to be extinct, his vision lost in a blur, as if waiting for the control desk to welcome a cup of coffee that never came. His tough mouth didn’t crack in the slightest. He’s just patient, while intrigue forces him a lot of hair ornaments and disguises, which evokes less of a spy pastiche than the bachelor party of a boy so allergic to dignity. The final blow comes in the film’s final brawl, as Van Damme has almost completely disappeared behind a stunt double that the editors no longer even try to hide.
DEATH TO ARRIVE EE
If watching one of the most endearing and physically impressive fighters of recent years pretend to fight, from behind and in a wig, wasn’t enough to our misfortune, directing and writing quickly took over turning The Last Mercenary into Golgotha SVOD. Discovering director Cyprien’s creations has always been an experience in itself, between a shamanic trance, corporal punishment, and gastroenteritis. Recognize him for pushing the buttons of pain to unexpected proportions. Character characterization, dialogue, comic tempo, editing, cutting, photography… nothing happens in this painfully mounted masterpiece.
Similar to the hostages reciting the shaky voice of an impossible demand message, Alban Ivanov, Eric Judor, the wonderful Nassim Lyes, and several others languidly struggle with blurry lines, which the montage never manages to highlight. Faced with such a desperate amorphous device, even Eric Judor looked like a sponge. But the saddest thing is the gallery of blunt supporting roles devoted to the all-too-rare cast from Michel Crémads to Valérie Kaprisky, written with sander, while Patrick Timsit is doomed to wriggle between digital rejuvenation and artistic aging.
The film’s unique tour de force, succeeds where Tenet fails, in that it allows us to reassess the idea of temporality. In 112 minutes, that’s an unlikely return to the subjunctive future of the particular hexagonal narration school that is proposed to us.
From faked city jokes, through cardboard transformer sketches, to secret service cliches, not to mention an avalanche of replicas based on penis volumes, it’s a surreal catalog that unfolds. Seeing Netflix galore at this mediocre school and jumping into it with both feet is a lot more depressing.
The Last Mercenary has been available on Netflix since July 30, 2021 in France.