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The Muscles From Brussels Returns

29 Feb, 2008 By: Billy Gil

The Shepherd: Border Patrol

With a recent surge of action films driven by actors now in their 50s and 60s, such as Rambo and the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it's only fitting to revisit one of the genre's staple stars — Jean-Claude Van Damme.

It's been a while since his late 1980s/early '90s heyday, but Van Damme — still fit at 47 — sounds hopeful about his future in film, which includes what looks like a biopic on Van Damme, starring Van Damme, called J.C.V.D. (the French film is due in 2008).

Currently, the actor has the direct-to-video title The Shepherd: Border Patrol hitting DVD March 4 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment at $24.96.

HM: Tell me about the story and your character in The Shepherd: Border Patrol.

Van Damme: I'm playing a detective based in New Orleans who takes a job as a U.S. border patrol agent between Columbus and Las Palomas, Mexico. I'm undercover, but I'm covering drug lords passing drugs from Mexico to the States. We find out those guys are coming from the [U.S.] Army, where they made a deal [in Iraq and Afghanistan] exporting heroin to Mexico and transferring it to the U.S. … This movie is made of good physical action, which is good for my cult audience in the video arena.

HM: What do you have lined up next?

Van Damme: My next movie I directed and produced by myself in Thailand. … The type of movie is love, so it's a different kind of concept [for me]. There will be action, of course, but it has a very strong story, and I've been working on that script for years now. … I'm not trying to run away [from action] because I want to please my audience … but I just did a movie, J.C.V.D., … [and with that] for the first time in my career I will have a film opening at the Cannes Film Festival, so this is big for me. Hopefully I will go into making those types of movies. … Hopefully I will make … bigger movies, which is cool for me, cool for Sony and cool for everyone.

HM: Timecop recently came out on HD DVD. What other films of yours would you like to see come out on in high-def?

Van Damme: I like film. … HD is good for sci-fi-type movies, but if you're going to shoot a movie with texture, with heart in it, nothing can beat film. One movie [that had] close to the texture of film on HD was the Jean-Jacques Annaud film Two Brothers. [Since the film featured] tigers, it used HD because of motion control. But that movie was shot in HD, and it looked like film. … The eyes of a tiger are very deep. It's like an eagle eye — very detailed. I believe HD was able to capture that. Also to use … CGI, it's easier on HD than film. But if you shoot a movie like Sea of Love or Scent of a Woman … those types of movies, to me, they're made to be shot on film. It's difficult for me to accept today those movies in HD. … To me, the screen is too clean, too clear.

HM: What's your favorite movie you've been in?

Van Damme: The Shepherd is going to be a good film with action and fighting and stuff like that — I came back with new techniques and everything — but my latest movie, J.C.V.D., is a great movie. I'm very proud of that movie.

HM: There seems to be a resurgence in high-charged action films lately. Why do you think that is?

Van Damme: They go up and go down. The last “Rambo” and “Rocky” are great, but I think people are missing the muscles from before, and they want to see those action stars from before. A lot of these actors [today] aren't so fit physically. I don't want to mention guys by name, but they're not really believable.

A selection of Van Damme on disc, and the year they were released theatrically:

“Van Damme Collector's Set” (Kickboxer/Replicant/Universal Soldier) – Lionsgate, released on DVD May 1, 2007
Until Death (2007) – Sony Pictures
The Hard Corps (2006) – Sony Pictures
Second in Command (2006) – Sony Pictures
In Hell (2003) – Sony Pictures
Timecop (1994) – Universal, released on HD DVD Dec. 23, 2007
Street Fighter: Collector's Edition (1994) – Universal
Double Impact (1991) – Fox/MGM
Lionheart (1990) – Universal
Cyborg (1989) – Fox/MGM
Bloodsport (1988) – Warner

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