Jean Claude Van Damme has been in “career retrospective parody mode” for a good while now—look no further than his massively viral Volvo commercial from a few years back, which saw the ‘80s action star performing an insane split-legged position while balanced between two moving semi trucks. Hell, it’s been almost 10 years since the release of JCVD, the film that starred Van Damme as a semi-fictionalized version of himself, playing up his former action star status. Now, he’s about to do it again, in a TV series for Amazon—Jean Claude Van Johnson. The pilot was meant to premiere in 2016, but ended up being pushed back quite a bit.
The premise of the series seems to be that JCVD’s acting career was always a front for his REAL activities as what appears to be your standard super spy/assassin role, where he goes by the name of “Johnson.” The name would seem to invoke ‘40s war movie star Van Johnson as well, but upon closer inspection that’s probably a coincidence.
In the trailer above, an aging JCVD (the man is 57 now, if you were wondering) decides to pull the old “come out of retirement for one last gig” routine, except he’s not talking about his film career, but his spy career. We get to see some pretty funny takes on his comeback training, featuring JCVD struggling to lift weights, hit punching bags and generally do any of the things he’s been known for during his entire career. Presumably he eventually gets things together, because the trailer’s voiceover informs us that he’s about to go up against “bloodthirsty drug runners.”
Honestly, it’s a premise that looks both fresh and potentially hilarious, with JCVD having a chance to parody his own genre of films in ways both literal and figurative. It certainly seems as if the people living in this world are still subject to the tropes of a JCVD movie—there’s even a line of dialog where a thug prevents his group from attacking Van Damme all at once, instead explaining that they should rush him one at a time “or it could get confusing.”
Jean-Claude Van Johnson premieres Dec. 15 on Amazon Prime Video. And now, because it would be a sin to write anything about JCVD without including it, enjoy the contextless hockey mascot fight from 1995’s Sudden Death.