I have a deep, undying love for Jean-Claude Van Damme, but even I can admit that many of his most recent DTV action endeavors are not all that great (I have hope for Kickboxer: Vengeance though). His best role of the last few years was as a version of himself in the fantastic and underrated Belgian crime flick JCVD, and he’s going to play an offshoot of himself again in a bonkers sounding series. Needless to say, I’m all in.
According to the folks over at Slashfilm, Jean-Claude Van Damme is teaming with Amazon for an action comedy series called Jean-Claude Van Johnson. Yes, you read that correctly. And the description is just as head-scratching as the title:
Jean-Claude Van Damme comes out of retirement to put on once again the mantle of his alter ego, undercover private contractor Jean-Claude Johnson. “Johnson’s” cover as the lead role in a re-imagined action film version of “Huckleberry Finn” lands him right back in the midst of the danger he secretly always craves—but most importantly, back in the orbit of Vanessa, his fellow operative and the woman he loves.
Within the series, Jean-Claude Van Damme is actually the alter ego that the hero puts on when, you know, he needs to be heroic. The series even uses some of the Muscles from Brussels’ more questionable movies, like Double Team and Street Fighter, which were just covers for Van Johnson’s missions. But now he’s far removed from his glory days—for instance, he can no longer do the splits to avoid incoming blows—things weigh heavy on him, and cards from Dolph Lundgren put him into a depression spiral.
As if all of this isn’t enough, and it’s totally more than enough for me, there’s a weird level of talent involved elsewhere that makes this even more impressive. David Schwimmer, yes, that David Schwimmer, is said to be Van Johnson’s primary rival, a fellow agent with the same mysterious organization. Sir Ridley Scott is even executive producing (!?!), Key & Peele director Peter Atencio (who also directed Keanu) will helm the series, and The Expendables writer David Callaham wrote what is being called a hilarious script.
Jean-Claude Van Johnson only has a pilot order at Amazon, but I really, really need this to become a full-blown series. Until now I didn’t even know how much this was missing from my life.