Jean-Claude Van Johnson is a revelation: visionary conflict between good and evil, with nothing less than the entire world on the line. Sound silly? It is - it is very, very silly. Yet, hidden in the comedy is an incredibly well written show that creates it's own rule book, that somehow follows a certain logic created by all the martial arts action movies it spoofs.
The best farce is indistinguishable from that which it makes fun of - and this is exactly what we have here. I really think the viewer needs at least a smattering of JCVD movies in their mental rolodex to fully appreciate the antics. JCVD classics include Bloodsport, Lionheart, Cyborg, Timecop, The Quest, Maximum Risk (his best overall action movie?), Double Team & Knock Off. There's obviously more, but these are my highlighted movies. Knock Off really is a delineating film, after which JC had a public fall from grace, and most of his films since then have been mid budget at best. There is one exception, 2008's JCVD that I have to believe is part of the reason this amazing TV show exists. That film is far more serious, but does a lot of play on fiction vs reality in JC's life, and certainly has it's comical moments. It's also a movie that shows VD's acting chops - I mean, who knew that his skill as an actor would improve as he aged?
Just like the writing, JCVD's acting in this show is subtly amazing! He plays all the scenes to near perfection, and the moments he replicates screams or poses from old films are absolute comic gold. This also speaks to the direction, and like everything else, there is a clear vision that everyone here bought into.
So what is this show? VD stars as himself, aged and retired - but we learn he has a lost love. In trying to rekindle that flame, we also learn that JC is a retired special operative for a secret organization where he is known simply as Johnson. In order to chase his flame, he comes out of retirement - both to make a movie, and to be a real life hero. But nothing in this show is anywhere near reality. It is all heavily stylized, with everything leaning toward humor. Between all the flashbacks, dream sequences, fight scenes and random action - we take an unpredictable journey with JCVD and the rest of the cast. Which is excellent, and worth mentioning that while VD is the star, this show belongs to both he and Kat Foster, almost in equal measure. Her character is also fully explored, with her own individual scenes - that are just as funny as any part of this show. They are a good team, and really play well off each other.
Obviously this show was made for a fan like me - I love JCVD. I love his movies. Many may be unintentional comedies: Bloodsport, The Quest, Knock Off. Here the comedy is very intentional, but comes at the viewer in much the same way as his old movies. I also feel with JC's legacy, he deserves this project, success, and hopefully a second season. He has aged pretty well, and his acting is at an all time high! I'm not saying he's De Niro or anything, but atm I'd way rather see JC's next project than De Niro's!
With comic brilliance, clever writing, solid production, a great cast and ultimately an amazing first season - what can I say? 10/10
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