Cinema

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The Independent Culture
It's been a bumper year for bum Jean-Claude Van Damme movies. But then it's always a bumper year for bum Jean-Claude Van Damme movies.

Time Cop was meant to crash the big leagues (again), what with a name- ish director (Peter Yates), a bigger budget, co-stars who could act (Ron Silver) and something vaguely resembling a plot, but alas - well, ha, ha, ha - no. The boy still ain't A-list.

Still, it got the Muscle (bound) from Brussels a sort of Hollywood respect: the movie might have had a snout, tail and fleas, but, hey, Yates did direct and it did cost $30 million, alright?

Street Fighter (right) ain't got no respect. Street Fighter has got plenty of nothing - another computer game-based bust that makes Super Mario Brothers look like Birth of a Nation and drives the final nail into the coffin of Van Damme's Plans for World Domination. Here's a picture so endlessly, infinitely rotten you shouldn't clock how appalling our half-pint hero is, and he still stinks up the joint by attempting, oh God, charm, lightness, grace; the man's a Tor Johnson who wants to be Cary Grant and no one - not even his agent - can stop him.

If only Van Damme would remember his early days (American Kickboxer et al) and how effective he once was playing vain, sour, brutish villains - men of mercifully few words and fewer brain cells, men like the Jean Claude who comes across in every interview he does. That's why he isn't a star, you know. Not the accent, not bad choices, not studio indifference. It's just that no one loves someone who has to fake it.

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