Updated: Jun 13, 2021
Dear John… Claude Van Damme,
Let me start by saying that I’ve always considered myself to be your #1 fan since I first witnessed you gracefully kicking ass on the big screen in “Bloodsport” when I was only 9 years old. I got into martial arts because of your influence, and my current career in the entertainment industry can easily be attributed to how I analyzed your films’ editing aesthetics while growing up. All of my friends and family have accepted the fact that I can laugh WITH you during the self-deprecating times, and I’m always the first person to jump to your defense when someone laughs AT you… But this time around, you’ve made me cry. But just to clarify, they were definitely not happy tears in response to your uninspired performance in “Pound of Flesh”.
It’s been a whole year since I waited in line for hours to be the very first super-fan through the doors at the red carpet premiere. I guess I needed some time to fully process what I experienced on that fateful night at the Grove, but now those bottled-up emotions need to be expressed. The following might sting a little bit (or a lot), but you took credit as Executive Producer on this film, so that’s why I’m speaking directly to you about my grievances.
Here we go. “Pound of Flesh” should’ve been titled “Pound of Feces” instead, because that’s exactly what it is… A 7.5 million dollar pound of feces. Literally ever aspect of the movie is insulting to the professional entertainment industry, and anyone who participated in its creation should be ashamed of themselves. I obviously don’t expect much of a plot from this particular genre, but there’s just no excuse for such sloppy filmmaking.
The screenplay is basically a generic mixture of an old urban legend and the worn-out clichés of every low-budget action movie in existence. Some people might argue that my previous sentence is exactly what satirical fans want from a JCVD movie, but the irony of its flaws are clearly unintentional. Hell, there were so many story inconsistencies that I wouldn’t doubt if you never actually read through the final draft of the script. It’s just so hard to understand why “Pound of Flesh” was the project you chose to greenlight out of the mountain of screenplay submissions that most likely land on your desk every week.
Aside from the atrocious writing, the set design is laughably comparable to the quality (or lack thereof) in a student film. The maroon painted 2×4 trim accents were recycled throughout multiple locations, and the baseboards were hastily fastened to the floor in a failed attempt to hide the frayed seams of carpet remnants. It was painfully obvious that the budget was slashed in every department, not only during principle photography, but also in post-production. For example, you picked up at least 1/3 of the shots in a poorly-lit green screen studio, and the chroma key alpha channel was the worst compositing I’ve EVER seen. Seriously, I can only assume that you hired a dead moth to manage quality control…
Now I probably could’ve looked past the awful production value if you actually pretended like you cared about your profession as an actor. It’s one thing to have a stunt double step in to perform some of the dangerous action, especially considering you’re in your 50’s. But it’s just pure laziness to use a body double for what seemed like at least 2/3 of the film. I could maybe imagine using a stand-in for long distance establishing shots, but it was blatantly obvious that you didn’t care enough about the project to show up for important scenes where other actors had more dialogue than you did. I’m not sure who convinced you otherwise, but having a body double wear a hat and sunglasses (or night-vision goggles) does not fool anybody into thinking that it’s actually you.
And to make matters worse, the false advertising on social media about the premiere ended up ruining the experience for a lot of your loyal and respectful fans. Like I said before, my friends and I were first in line, and we were super excited when we received our raffle tickets for the drawing. Unfortunately for us, you never chose the “10 lucky winners” to see the movie with you. When you finally showed up, the majority of us patiently waited for an opportunity to meet you in person, but the inevitable leeches popped out of the woodwork only to push and shove their way to the front like rabid animals, and practically forced you to sign autographs that will most likely end up being sold on eBay.
Speaking of autographs, your handlers attempted to save face by passing out mini one-sheet posters with your photocopied signature at the bottom, claiming to be the surprise giveaways mentioned on social media. It’s not considered an autograph if the signature itself is mass-duplicated during the printing process. Seeing that any old schmuck could walk into the lobby and grab a stack of those mini-posters, it’s quite insulting to realize that the so-called incentives were greatly exaggerated in order to convince more people to show up to the event.
And to make matters worse, all of the fans who waited outside for hours just to get a chance to be in the same theater as you, were rudely corralled into an overflow theater down the hall without even the courtesy of a quick explanatory meet-and-greet. Ironically, some of us witnessed you duck out of the lobby through the back door before the screening, most likely because you couldn’t bear to stomach the embarrassing film that was about to unfold. For someone who claims to respect his fans as much as you do, the loyal ones lost a lot of respect for you that night.
I cheered you on through major blockbusters like “Hard Target” and “TimeCop”, and I stuck by your side during major flops like “Derailed” and “The Hard Corps”. I was a “Universal Soldier” several times for Halloween in the past, and I have every one of your movie posters framed along the walls of my film school in LA. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, I thought I was going to be a diehard fan for the long haul… But after seeing “Pound of Flesh”, it’s clear to me that you’ve lost the creative passion that originally brought you to Hollywood all those years ago, and I can no longer justify supporting the one or two sloppy films you put out every other year.
I will always remember the good times we had over the past few decades, and I look forward to the day when my son is old enough to appreciate my favorite movie of all time, “Double Impact”. But as difficult as it is for me to say this, I think it’s time for me to take my fancy clothes, and my black seelk awndawear, and go back to Deesneeland…
Extremely disappointed former fan,
– Scott Thomas Crawley