– by David Kozlowski

I loved the martial arts films of Chuck Norris, Jeff Speakman, Jackie Chan, and Jean-Claude Van Damme as a kid, but man was the acting was bad (the stories weren’t all that great either). To this day I still can’t explain how in the world these films ever got made, much less made any money. The cynic in me wonders if maybe such films were merely money-laundering fronts for the mafia or the CIA… and I totally realize how stupid that sounds, and yet… what an idea for a movie or series, amirite? Too bad I didn’t think of it sooner.

In 2008 Jean-Claude Van Damme starred in JCVD, which asked the question: what if an aging, down-and-out action star walked into a bank robbery? It was a brilliant and surprisingly emotional black comedy akin to Being John Malkovich, which asked existential questions about life and legacy and success and failure — yes, we’re talking about a film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, and it was kind of amazing. Seems that JCVD was a jumping off point for something weirder and awesome-r.

Related – Trailer For Amazon’s Jack Ryan Is Here!

Today we get our first look at Amazon‘s Jean-Claude Van Johnson series, which begs the question: what if Ridley Scott believed JCVD was real and ran with the premise? What you get is a retired action star who doubles as a semi-professional government operative. It’s maybe the most insane idea I’ve heard in years, and wow does it look like fun.

The fact that Van Damme is so willing to poke fun at his “career” and himself, while looking every bit the 57-year-old man that he is, is itself bold and intriguing. The action and the comedy shown in this trailer look spot-on too. The series totally embraces its idiocy and absurdity, which we all frankly need more of these days.

A final thought. Big thumb’s up to Amazon’s original programming slate, which already includes Bosch, Mozart in the Jungle, Transparent, and Sneaky Pete. Between Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon it’s no wonder that theaters are struggling to put rears into seats when there’s so much compelling material on streaming services (to say nothing of the great basic and premium cable series and films too).

Can you believe that Jean-Claude Van Johnson is actually a thing and also looks hilarious? What keeps you sticking with the service? Let us know in the comments down below!

Jean-Claude Van Johnson hits Amazon Prime on December 15, 2017.

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SOURCE: Amazon Video

  • TheOct8pus

    I’m glad they picked this show up. I loved the pilot that dropped a couple years ago. Great premise and Van Damme still has it.

  • Kindofabigdeal

    I didn’t like the part about talking smack about our old school action films. And I mean the martial arts genre. I mean even if you look at Bruce Lee’s classics the acting and story are subpar. In a funny sort of way, maybe it was intentional at the time.
    Then look at Hong Kong cinema at the time. Very bad editing and story telling and fur us westerners, bad dubbing. But it created its own pocket of cinema that we loved because kung fu was cool. When Jean Claude and Jackie Chan and the others started to make theirs in the 80’s they spend more time on the choreography than the script. So that is what we get. It wasn’t until later that Hollywood realized they could throw money at the script and the action/fights/stunts. It is only now in the era of The Raid that we can get a great story, great acting, and solid action. But you can’t compare a corevette to a horse and carriage, because one had to travel several miles of hard work in order to get the factories that build cars that we have today.

    • Weresmurf

      Yeah but even in that time period, you had B grade action movies that still carried decent storylines and ones that had horrendous ones (Say, Terminator vs Commando or Red Heat vs Rambo III). Ones where the budget was still uber low, but the heart went into telling a tale as well as representing the action as well.

      One can be hyper critical of the genre, and fairly so, when at the time there were people trying to push the genre forward and a lot of companies such as Canon, trying to cash in and push out cheap pulp that did nothing but help it stagnate (Hellooooo American Ninja).

      It is indeed the only reason we have great films such as The Raid, but, it’s also the reason we still have a dodgy DTV action movie market at the same time. Not everything turned out roses… but then, there’s still shitty big budget and awesome low budget films remember (Scott Adkins you boy wonder you!)

  • Weresmurf

    That looks all sorts of amazing 😀 I’m in!

David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.