One of the areas of my film knowledge that sometimes surprises people is my familiarity with the films of one Jean Claude Van Damme. For whatever reason, I'm pretty conversant in the legend of the muscle from Brussels. But, it wasn't like I was a fan or anything -- he was just kind of there as the years wore on, mainly thanks to the occasional humiliating moment that would appear on the Internet from time to time. But just like every other person out there who had written of Van Damme, I was blown away by his performance as himself -- or at least the man we think he is -- in JCVD. The action-drama-comedy-metaphysical exercise (I honestly don't know how to describe it sometimes, it's just that cool) was unlike anything Van Damme had ever done before, and after you see that much-discussed monologue you'll never look at Double Impact quite the same way again.
But enough gushing about Mabrouk El Mechri's film (although I truly believe that it deserves all the praise that we can heap upon it) because this is about the music, too, and even though there are numerous moments in the film that could have earned their own Scenes We Love, I had to go with the opening scene where we see Van Damme as we know him best: kicking the living crap out of the bad guys ... with the added bonus of it being set to Baby Huey's classic song, Hard Times.
After the jump: 'I'm sick and tired of havin' so many hard, hard times baby'...
Hard Times is just about the perfect track to begin this self-referential film. Huey, who was christened James Ramey, was another star who ruined a promising career with drugs and bad behavior before an untimely death in 1970. Fortunately for Van Damme, he managed to pull himself back from the brink before suffering a similar fate. But it's almost as if the soul classic was written for the film with it's lyrics of struggle, shame, and misplaced pride. But even if you aren't buying all the self-referencing fun there is still something to recommend this song and scene combination: Hard Times truly is just a bad-a** song.