Having wrapped up work on yet another Kung Fu Panda movie, and run out of subtitles to slap onto the direct-to-DVD cases for Universal Soldier films, Jean-Claude Van Damme is making the move to TV. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Musculature From Brussculature has signed on for a new pilot with Amazon, in which he’ll play both himself, and his secret-agent alter-ego: The eponymous Jean-Claude Van Johnson.
This is actually the second time Van Damme’s gone to the semi-autobiographical well in recent years; in 2008, he starred in French film JCVD as a washed-up, ethically dubious iteration of himself. That movie—which features a notable scene in which Van Damme is literally lifted out of an armed robbery to give the camera a riveting, five minute monologue on the nature of celebrity and addiction—earned a smattering of praise for the karate star’s performance, but didn’t do much for his struggling career.
Hence, possibly, the switch in genres for Jean-Claude Van Johnson, which seems like it’s going for a much lighter touch with all its self-referential shenanigans. Judging by both the premise and the behind-the-camera talent—which includes The Expendables and Godzilla scribe Dave Callaham, and Key & Peele and Keanu’s Peter Atencio—the new project is hewing much closely to action and comedy, with a little bit of romance (in the form of a female fellow spy who’s “the love of his life that got away”) thrown in for everyone who enjoys watching Van Damme gracefully kick his way into women’s hearts. (Also, it’s a TV show about Jean-Claude Van Damme pretending to star in a fictitious action movie of Huckleberry Finn, an idea so delightfully dumb we’re amazed no one’s tried to turn it into a TV show.)
Production for the series will reportedly begin in May.
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