Jean-Claude Van Johnson (2016- 2017)

Director: Peter Atencio
Creator: Dave Callaham
Executive Producer: Ridley Scott
Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kat Foster, Moises Arias
Genre: Action Comedy
Network: Amazon Video
First Episode Date: August 19, 2016

Jean-Claude Van Johnson is described by IMDb like this, “Jean-Claude Van Johnson stars global martial arts & actor Jean-Claude Van Damme playing “Jean-Claude Van Damme”, a global martial arts & film sensation, also operating under the simple alias of “Johnson” as the world’s best undercover private contractor. Retired for years, a chance encounter with a lost love brings him back to the game. This time, he’ll be deadlier than ever. Probably.”

The pilot goes like this, “Retired actor/international spy Jean-Claude Van Damme comes out of retirement to romantically pursue his former hairdresser/right-hand woman Vanessa. Despite his lingering self-doubt, JCVD quickly rediscovers his comfort zone both on set and in the field… for a day, at least. Then he messes everything up.”

This series is truly an honest, comedic look at the action genre of the 1980’s and 90’s and one of the genre’s well known stars, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Bloodsport (1988), the story of American martial artists Frank Dux, (one of the best American martial arts movies for many reasons) made Jean-Claude Van Damme a household name, but age and obscurity left him with little opportunity besides straight to video projects. Jean-Claude Van Johnson is the perfect retrospect, allowing Jean-Claude to fictionalize himself as an actor who made too many B-Grade movies but who attempts to redeem himself by letting us know that all this time he was really an international spy. (Sounds like the life of Frank Dux from The Secret Man: An American Warrior’s Uncensored Story.)
In reality Jean-Claude Van Johnson allows Jean-Claude Van Damme to take a look at his own life and to come to terms with who he’s become. The show gives him leave to make fun of the action genre, including his own films, as well as those stereotypical action stars and villains that pop up throughout the series. Jean-Claude Van Johnson is really a spoof of the entire entertainment industry, maybe even a spoof of life.

The best thing about Jean-Claude Van Johnson is that some of the time it is serious drama that pulls you in physically and emotionally, and then, when you are all caught up in the story, it spins you off into some comic universe, leaving you wondering why you keep watching. The truth is, you just can’t help yourself, especially if love action films or you work in the entertainment industry. Jean-Claude Van Johnson will make you laugh and laugh and laugh.