There are some really good Jean-Claude Van Damme films. No, there are. Hard Target. Universal Soldier. Kim Newman likes Sudden Death. Earlier this year, the muscles from Brussels had a bit of a critical renaissance. And now here’s the trailer for The Eagle Path, like JCVD never happened.
If it undoes that sterling work however, JC only has himself to blame, since The Eagle Path is Van Damme’s second directorial outing. Or, as Wikipedia currently has it, “Jean Claude is the Director an Writer of the mvoie an he also Director of the movie called the Quest that with he star in that movie in 1996”. JC is also credited as editor, with his father Eugene producing, and children Kristopher and Bianca co-starring.
The cleverest thing about the trailer is the way it mirrors the trajectory of most JC movies, in that it’s quite boring for the first two thirds, and reasonably entertaining when it gets violent towards the end.
The plot appears to see JC playing a character called Frenchy - surely Belgy would be more accurate - on a kill-crazy rampage in the name of love. We’d like nothing better than for this to turn out to be the greatest epic of battle and romance since The Iliad.
But what seems likely, given the evidence on display here, is that we’re firmly back in DTV territory, after JCVD’s detour into meta-narrative, self-examination and the Belgian post office. The Eagle Path looks very much to have been shot on the cheap and peopled with actors – aside from the Van Varenberg clan, obviously - we will never see again. Are we wrong, or does somebody at one point say “Welcome to Waitrose”?
Happily though, there’s a lot of blood flying around. And notice that, in a couple of shots, JC has a moustache. What’s that about? Are they flashbacks, or is this another of his trademark dual-roles, as previously seen in Double Impact, Maximum Risk and Replicant? We know we’ll probably be disappointed, but, for our sins, we’re still actually really looking forward to finding out.