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People really shouldn't write off Van-Damme before they've actually sat themselves down and watched a few of his films.
Timecop is an excellent place to start. An excellent premise starts off with Van-Damme losing his wife to future-thugs who blow up his house. Fast forward ten years to 2004 and Van-Damme is a time-enforcement cop, someone who finds people who have been tampering with the timeline.
He soon finds out that a seedy senator is using time-travel to manipulate his future so that he wins the vote to become president of the united states.
Theres plenty of fun to be had with Timecop, sci-fi purists will scoff at the ridulousness of the time travel device and future '2004' anachronisms. But suspend your brain for 90 minutes and you have an enjoyable action film with some decent knife fights and roundhouse kicks.
If you're new to Van-Damme and want to check out a movie of his, Timecop is a good way to start.
Max Walker is a detective with a slightly different mission from most. It is 2004 and he works for an agency set up to prevent crime through time travel. His deadly enemy, Senator Aaron McCord, is trying to fund his election campaign with money based on gold stolen from the government sometime back in the 19th century. What is more, McCord is responsible for the death of Walker's beautiful wife, Melissa. Walker travels backwards in time to try and stop the damage, but McCord is too powerful for him. Without McCord's support, the agency will not get the financial backing it needs to continue, and as he wants to stop Walker's investigation, he is not going to back the agency.
Walker is determined not to give up. He has suffered enough at the hands of McCord. But will he be able to stop him? And will he be able to change history so that his wife does not die?
I missed the whole Jean-Claude Van Damme sensation, because I was overseas at the time. In fact, the only time I've ever seen him is during the brief role he had as Rachel's love interest in Friends! I have heard a lot of good things about him though; particularly with respect for this film, for which I have rarely read a bad review. So although I am not a huge fan of action films, I decided to give this a go.
Walker is played by Van Damme. As expected, Van Damme gave a typical action flick performance, with some pretty good fighting scenes. Shame though that he can't really act. I found him wooden and unbelievable apart from when he was fighting. What made it worse for me was this terrible bouffant haircut that he had when playing his 2004 character. He looked like he had just walked out of the 1980s and I was quite surprised to find that the film was made as late as 1994. Van Damme has a fabulous body, but with that barnet, I kept getting distracted! I have to say that if this is one of Van Damme's better films, I am not inclined to watch him in anything else. He simply didn't inspire very much in me at all, although he is supposed to be the hero.
Ron Silver who played Senator McCord was a bit better - actually not bad at all if you consider that the film is based on a comic. He was suitably evil and sneering and I did find myself really disliking him. He also added a touch of humour to the film that Van Damme, all serious and manly, was unable to do.
There are two female interests in the film, although I really got the impression that they were there for eye candy purposes rather than anything else. Walker's wife, Melissa, who is played by Mia Sara does a reasonable job of being very very scared and big-eyed. Don't think that because she appears in the film that Walker must save her though! She appears in the opening scenes of the film when she originally dies in 1994 and I'm not telling if she reappears later! Walker also briefly has a female sidekick called Sarah Fielding, played by Gloria Reuben. Frankly, although she doesn't by any means do a bad job, I didn't really understand why she was in the film - it just seemed like a totally random role that didn't really fit in.
Plot-wise, I thought it seemed quite promising at the beginning, but there wasn't really all that much to it. Bearing in mind that it is based on a comic, this is perhaps not all that surprising. Having said that, it wasn't awful, and I certainly didn't strain to keep watching through to the end. I can see that it may appeal to teenagers in particular - the only problem is that the director, for reasons that are beyond me, decided to throw in a couple of completely gratuitous sex scenes that make it inappropriate for younger teenagers.
As basically a science fiction film there are a number of scenes that involve special effects, particularly when moving between time periods. This is shown as a sort of blurring from one into the other and was perfectly adequate, although probably a little weak based on the standards of today. There was one scene though where two people merged into one and disintegrated, which looked as if it was a cartoon and was totally out of place with the rest of the film! Fine for children, but I'm not sure it would meet the standard of adults.
Direction-wise, the director was clearly of the mind that this was an action film and did concentrate largely on the action scenes. To be honest, this is probably what saved this film, because the action was pretty intense and, I thought, well done. Some of Van Damme's fighting scenes were superb - I loved the lines of his body, which the camera picked up really well.
On the whole, I thought this was an entertaining enough film, but it certainly won't be one that I will go out of my way to watch again. I found Van Damme disappointing except during the fighting scenes, and I certainly can't see why this film has received such good reviews. Perhaps it is just too far removed from the type of film I would usually watch - I'm sure it would appeal more to men for a start - nevertheless, I can't do much more than recommend it if you've got nothing better to do.
The DVD is available from play.com for £4.49 once it is back in stock.
Whilst it has become increasingly easy to laugh at Jean Claude Van Damme's recent spate of terrible, self-absorbed movies, lumping his films in the same category with Steven Segal as mindless action-fests starring non-actors, this assessment is not always fair. This negates the fact that at one time he was a box-office action hero with a decent reputation. Whilst never in the same league as Schwarzanegger, Stallone and Willis, the Muscles from Brussels did endure some success in the early nineties where he worked with some wily action director's (Roland Emmerich, John Woo and Peter Hyams) and where some of his films (Timecop, Nowhere to Run, Sudden Death, Universal Solidier, Kickboxer) were actually well-crafted, fast paced adventures. Indeed Van Damme's more recent straight to video atrocities illustrates the man as a parody of his former self.
Hyams, an old pro at science fiction, directs Van Damme in Timecop producing one of his more solid and capable performances. He plays Max Walker, a Washington D.C. cop whose life is shattered when his wife (Mia Sara - Legend, Ferris Bueller's Day Off), is brutally murdered and his home destroyed by a mysterious group of thugs carrying exotic weapons. Ten years later Walker is recruited into a secret time enforcement agency - the perfection of time travel brings with it new opportunities for criminals and the government sets up a special police force to ensure the new technology isn't abused. Walker is the best 'temporal agent' around, but the timecops are being phased out by cuts in funding, directed by a committee headed by Senator/Presidential candidate McComb (the wonderfully hammy Ron Silver). Walker suspects McComb may be 'using' time to his own advantage and, jumping to the past, Walker finds evidence that confirms these fears. However upon his return, the world has changed -'President' McComb is now running things, and Walker's own past is about to be erased!
While the time-travel logic is mostly flawed (both The Terminator and Back to the Future dealt with the concept more intelligently) leading to a few obvious plot holes, Timecop maintains such a frenzied fast pace that the viewer can easily ignore them, and simply enjoy the film as a ridiculous action adventure. Hyams is no Kubrick. Even an infusion of the great man's DNA wouldn't guarantee his next flick would rise above mediocrity. But so what? Hyams doesn't aspire to creative or intellectual brilliance, instead making films at his own pace and at his own level of artistic integrity. Many may frown upon such ungilded simplicity yet, for my money, Timcop achieves exactly what it sets out to do. Certainly no cerebral rush, but honest, solid entertainment. Hyams delivers his requisite quota of high kicks per dollar and exploding blood capsules per reel. And with Van Damme as the figurehead, he has a recognisable 2-D hero for the audience to cheer all the way.
Van Damme is actually rather good in the lead, combining his signature martial arts moves with a characterization that captures some depth and feeling. It's a believeable performance (considering what happens at the beginning of the film), illustrating a rarley seen dark and cynical side, almost brooding with intensity (I said almost, though)! Of course where Van Damme excells is with the fight sequences. Whilst not as amazing as the high kicks of Jackie Chan or Jet Li, the action sequences serve their purpose admirably. The kitchen fight is an obvious stand-out. A small confined fighting area, fairly brutal and well choreographed, it provides the Van Damme fans with exactly what they want - multiple angled camera shots of the same high kick destroying an opponent and the inevitable Van Damme splits!
The remainder of the cast also provide solid performances! Ron Silver gets away with a hammy rendition of Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber as the Presidential candidate who will do anything to get what he wants. Slimey and brutal in equal measure, he brings a presence to the film not often found in a Van Damme flick. Perhaps the single most outstanding performance comes from Bruce McGill as Walker's boss Matuzak. Sarcastic and bullish, he brings a light comic relief in a general buddy, buddy way through his verbal sparring with Van Damme (not that Van Damme says much)! Unfortunate that he doesn't get more screen time.
Whilst the end of the film is unfortunately telegraphed early on in the movie - there is little rarley to complain about Timecop! It's far from a masterpiece, but if you like your no-brainer action films, with quintessential one-liners, fast-paced action, a driven pragmatic plot showing off the lead actors physical presence, enemies that serve merely as punching bags and a conclusion you can guess - then this is highly entertaining, unoriginal guff!
Overall - This is not a fantastic film! However it does exactly what it says on the tin! A workable plot, good sense of excitement with some solid action sequences and a nice streak of wit running throughout results in a film that is miles above the straight to video rubbish Van Damme's been condemning audiences to recently. No doubt thanks to the solid direction of Peter Hyams, by all means this is one of Van Damme's superior films.
Director: Peter Hyams
Jean-Claude Van Damme .... Walker
Mia Sara .... Melissa
Ron Silver .... McComb
Bruce McGill .... Matuzak
Gloria Reuben .... Fielding
Certificate: 18 (Violence, language and one unnecessary sex scene where Van-Damme gets his kit off!)
Running Time: 98 Mins
Genre: Action/Sci-Fi/Martial Arts
I think most people have a few films that only they seem to like – a film that was slated at the box office by the critics and whenever you tell your friends that you like this movie they reply ‘but it’s terrible!’ – for me, Timecop is such a movie. This 1994 release sees Jean-Claude Van Damme star as policeman Max Walker. Max lives with his wife in a newly bought home; things seem to be on the up and up – especially with his new promotion at work. You see, in just 2 years time, time travel will become a reality (well, according to this action movie it will be anyway!) It soon becomes apparent that many a crook is using this new technology to go back in time and basically make themselves very rich, very quickly – imagine being able to go back in time and invest in an unknown software company called ‘Microsoft’ – you’d be rolling in cash! In order to prevent this, a new police division is set up – the TEC, or Time Enforcement Commission and Max is to be one of the heads of this department. It soon becomes apparent that a corrupt senator (played by Ron Silver) is trying to use this technology to ‘buy’ himself the US Presidential title. Things become personal when this senator uses the technology to go back in time and attempt to kill the ‘old time’ version of Max, thus stopping the creation of the TEC. In this attempt he actually kills Max’s wife instead. Max survives, but vows to discover who killed his wife and why. He is then forced to go back in time, track down the senator and prevent his evil crimes from taking place, WHILST trying to save his wife. Sound confusing? Probably, but for me it’s a great action flick! It’s interesting to see him going back in time to ‘1994’ and even further and good fun to watch him interact with the people of the time. A mix of sci-fi, action and a bit of comedy – i
t’s a movie I could watch over and over again (and often do!) A lot of people would probably say that Van Damme isn’t exactly a brilliant actor, and I’d have to agree having seen him in previous films. His other movies tend to be all fighting and very little in the way of actual story or plot; but in this movie he turns in a pretty decent performance and the story (although obviously far-fetched) works really well – yes there are some plot-holes, but it’s just great enjoyable fun really. The actual fight scenes themselves are well choreographed and aren’t overly violent (you won’t see mutilated bodies popping up or limbs being hacked off) and are very watch able. A special mention must also go to the special effects; I remember when I saw this movie at the cinema thinking how amazing the special effects were, most notably during the whole ‘time travel’ sequences – I know that computer effects have improved massively over the years, but the movie doesn’t look too dated really. If you haven’t seen this movie solely because of the male lead actor’s past movies, then I’d urge you to give it a go – you might be pleasantly surprised! I used to own this movie on VHS, but saw it on special offer at Play.com for just £8 delivered – a real bargain in my opinion! The R2 DVD itself is a pretty decent release – the picture is an anamorphic wide screen print (unlike the pan and scan R1 release) and looks a little soft in places, but that’s the only complaint – it’s certainly watchable and is a vast improvement over the copy I used to own on VHS! The sound is also a fairly decent 5.1 sound transfer. Rear speakers are often used for ambience as well as ricocheting gunfire around your living room. Like the picture transfer it’s nothing startling but it certainly doesn’t let you down in any wa
y. From the static menu screen you don’t have that many options really – the bonus material consists of some production notes as well as actor biographies to read. The only other extra is a theatrical trailer – which I had never seen before. The trailer certainly gives you a good taste of things to come in the main feature and serves it’s job well. One immediate thing is the difference of quality between the trailer and the main feature, the trailer is visibly much worse! That’s the whole content of the disc – nothing startling in the way of content; and at £19.99 from Amazon it’s a bit of a rip-off. But when you buy it from Play.com for £8 then it’s a bargain – a real treat and a ‘must buy’ in my opinion!
If I said to you that this was a Jean-Claude Vamn Damne movie then you probably would have made up your mind about it already. Its going to have a lame script, a non-existent plot, bad acting, weak special effects and some not very impressive martial arts scenes. Well, that is how most of VD's movies are so you would be forgiven for thinking that, but this is a tiny bit better than that. Even so, its not that good, I'm just saying that for me, its the best of his movies that I have seen, and I've seen quite a few for my sins. The movie is set in the future as so many are. In this particular version of our future, the art of time travel has been perfected and utilised by the crime fighting forces of America to solve and prevent crimes before they happen. VD is what is known as a 'timecop', a law enforcer who travels back in time to sort things out. He uncovers a plot to use the time travel abilities for foul purposes and sets off to prevent this... Like I said, most VD movies have a rather weak plot and this is no exception but its certainly better than most. The time travel elements aren't exactly explored to any adequate depth bt save themselves from opening themselves up to too much ridicule but not mentioning the physics of it all in any way shape or form. Its possible, VD does it - thats all we need to know. The idea is that changing events in the past can change what happens in the future, but this movie seems to pick and choose how this is going to unfold. One event changed changes the future...another has no effect whatsoever...interesting. But we shouldn't expect anything else really. Acting is not even worth mention. VD is wooden and those assembled around him are worse to make him look a little better. Nothing new there. Special effects? Well, they look as if they belong in a movie at least 10 years older. The time travelling effects are laughable, and it would have been better if they had left such things out
altogether. But again, its exactly what you would expect. The fight scenes are the usual VD fare as well. Bad guys stand still waiting to be punched, then VD does the same waiting for the return, and the martial arts moments look somewhat strained and wooden. Well its better than Chuck Norris I suppose, but not much. What do I like then? Well not the scripting and such like either, but despite all these gripes the movie does flow quite well and is worth watching. The plot does confuse itself sometimes, no doubt trying very hard not to disappear up its own backside over the difficulties of timetravel and its effects. VD tries to deliver funny lines but fails where other like Bruce Willis and Arnie success so well. Frankly VD sucks and any movie wiuth him in it could only suffer thanks to him presence, but still this remains more watchable than his others...which I know isn't saying much, but at least you won't be reaching for the remote with this one. The action is ok and it moves along at a reasonable pace. The timetravel, sci-fi aspects make it a little more interesting and overall, whilst distinctly average, it may be worth a watch the next time it makes a televisual debut. 3/5...and still Van Damne's best movie...says it all really.
A bad Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. What more is there to say? (Is there such a thing as a 'good Van-Damme movie'?) The storyline has the big man as a 'timecop' who has to travel through time to put things right. Gee, how original. The movie's only plus point is that the female star is Mia Sara, who looks as good here as in FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF and LEGEND. The concept of the movie was considered good enough to be spun off into a television show, but thankfully someone realised how awful that was too and killed it off eaely. Miss this one.
Even though this film has been around for a while I still enjoy it everytime I watch it. It is Van Damme's best movie without a doubt. It even gives him the chance to act and he does quite a good job. Everyone knows that it is not his strong point but he does an ok job in Timecop. This is one of Van Dammes only movies that actually has a story line as well. Most of his movies just revolve around him kicking and beating people up! This film is a fantasy action film where Van Damme plays a cop time travel enforcer. He makes sure that people dont use Time travel for bad things. This film has some neat actions scenes and you cannot get better then Van Damme when in full flow. His accent is poor but his action is cool! This is one cool movie and it will become a classic example of 90's action.
Admittedly not saying too much, but this really is a good film, if a little contrived in places. Van Damme is a timecop, who goes back in time to make sure people don't make a killing on the stock market, or invent things they shouldn't. However, after he has to go back in time and arrest his partner, trouble starts to happen. He goes back in time to try and stop a corrupt senator from changing the course of history,m but fails, and when he comes back again, the world has changed around him, and his government agency is being closed down, due to this senator's immense power, which is allowing him to lead the polls in the presidential elections. Because of this, he goes back in time again, to try to sort out what went wrong, and he manages it in the end, although he inadvertantly chnages the course of history along the way, which turns out well for him, to say the least! This is a really good film, which makes use of time travel to it's advantage, but doesn't over complicate the matter, going for a relatively simple approach to the subject!
Timecop is an absolutely stunning film. It has a brilliant plot, which may owe quite a lot to 'Back to the Future,' but is still fresh and exciting. It is set in a future where time travel has become possible, and, because of the implications of being able to interact with the past, an agency has been set up to police the facility. Jean Claude van Damme is an officer for this agency and naturally stumbles across a massive conspiracy to abuse time travel. Not only that, but it's rather closer to home than it ought to be. The film succeeds because it isn't just a vehicle for Van Damme to demonstrate that he can perform the splits and flex his pecs. The plot is everything, and the action secondary. It really does take some thinking about, the implications of meddling. I mean what if you accidentally change things so that time travel wasn't invented; then you can't possibly have been there to meddle; in which case it gets invented after all; in which case you can go and interfere after all. Whilst the action does come out of the plot there is still plenty of it - the film moves at an incredible pace, with Van Damme getting plenty of chances to kick, punch, head-butt, and generally indicate that he doesn't like people very much. Eventually the film tries to be too clever, and the whole time travel thing doesn't quite hold together under close scrutiny. But I'm not about to tell you how, because this really is a superb film and I wouldn't want to be a spoil-sport. If you want to have your mind exercised at the same time as getting an all action movie then watch it!