Jean-Claude Van Damme has talked a great deal recently with Daily Mail about what would be his final martial arts film. That currently remains to be seen, while it now seems that he’s far off from that goal as he continues with his latest project in France with David Charhon’s new Netflix action comedy, The Last Mercenary, with Samir Decazza, and Lucky and Inséparables actor Alban Ivanov.
Being shot in France, the film sees Van Damme plays a mysterious former secret service agent who must urgently return to the country when his estranged son (Decazza) is falsely accused of arms and drug trafficking by the government, following a blunder by an overzealous bureaucrat (Ivanov) and a mafia operation.
Van Damme’s career has seen something of a rollercoaster over the last twenty years, having gone from Hollywood hit maker to direct-to-video obscurity, much like Steven Seagal following Half Past Dead. The big difference here, however, is that the Belgian action icon has seen a striking resurgence in more than a decade, flexing a much stronger acting muscle through a handful of memorable niche hits through action, comedy and drama, working with directors like Philippe Martinez (Wake Of Death), Mabrouk El Mechri (JCVD), Peter (Enemies Closer) and John Hyams (Universal Soldier Regeneration/Day Of Reckoning, Dragon Eyes), to Dave Callaham (Jean-Claude Van Johnson), Ernie Barbarash (Assassination Games) and Julien Leclerq (The Bouncer).
Even then, he’s had a few turns on the big screen in some form or another with director Jennifer Yuh Nelson as Master Croc in Kung Fu Panda 2, and going toe-to-toe in legendary fashion in Simon West’s The Expendables 2, and he eventually turned in a comedic performance in Dong Chengpeng’s Jian Bing Man, which never really got the North American release some may have hoped for, and you’re welcome to read Mike Garcia’s thoughts on the film here.
Of course, other JCVD projects have been largely hit-or-miss depending on who you talk to, particularly about the Kickboxer reboot movies from Dimitri Logothetis. Going forward though, it’s safe to say that Van Damme hasn’t lost his fanbase, and The Last Mercenary certainly looks to keep up the actor’s momentum.
“I want to return to the great tradition of action films of the ’80s and ’90s — those cult films we all love where the heroes were out of the ordinary, the stunts were all more impressive and truer than life, and all punctuated with humour. Only Jean-Claude could embody this unparalleled golden age of cinema,” said Charhon.
Gaëlle Mareschi, creative manager at Netflix France said: “We are very excited to welcome the great legend of action cinema, JCVD, in tandem with the inexorable Alban Ivanov, surrounded by a myriad of great French talent, all in an extremely fun and original film proposition orchestrated by David Charhon.”
“The Last Mercenary is an incredibly exciting project and allows me to take on a new genre,” said Van Damme. “I’ve always been a fan of Jean-Paul Belmondo and I hope to take up the torch of action comedy in my own way. David Charhon’s script brings all these elements together in a very successful way – a beautiful story with emotion, a lot of action and a lot of humour.”
Added the action star: “I’m also very happy to work alongside a new generation of talent such as Alban Ivanov, Assa Sylla and Samir Decazza, but also to be reunited on screen with the creme de la creme of French actors such as Patrick Timsit, Eric Judor, Miou-Miou and Valérie Kaprisky.”
The Last Mercenary also stars Assa Sylla, Patrick Timsit, Eric Judor and Miou-Miou, and was was written by Charhon and Ismaël Sy Savané. Charhon is also producing with Jean-Charles Levy, Nicolas Manuel (Forecast Pictures), Olivier Albou, Laurence Schonberg (Other Angle Pictures), Jakéma Charhon, Eponine Maillet (Mony Films), Olias Barco and Vlad Riashyn (Apple Tree).