Between his tax problems and his legal battle with his wife for the custody of his daughter, these are hard times for the action movie star who finds that even Steven Seagal has pinched a role from him! In JCVD, Jean-Claude Van Damme returns to the country of his birth to seek the peace and tranquility he can no longer enjoy in the United States.
Jean-Claude Van Damme gets involved in a bank robbery with hostages situation and reflects about his life during it.
- The film establishes Jean-Claude Van Damme playing himself as an out-of-luck actor. He is out of money; his agent cannot find him a decent production; and the judge in a custody battle is inclined to give custody of his daughter over to his ex-wife. He returns to his childhood home of Brussels, the capital of Belgium, where he is still considered a national icon.
When he goes into a post office to receive a wire transfer, he finds himself in the middle of a hostage situation. Due to an unfortunate mistake, the police believe Van Damme is responsible for the crime. As the events are played from different perspectives, Van Damme finds himself acting as a hero to protect the hostages, as well as both a negotiator and presumed perpetrator.
One scene of note is when Van Damme and the camera are lifted above the set, and he performs a six-minute single-take monologue, where he breaks the fourth wall addressing the audience directly, and delivers an emotional (but characteristically cryptic) monologue about his career, his multiple marriages, and his drug abuse.
Van Damme then persuades one of the bank robbers to release the hostages. After this happens, a scuffle ensues and in the resulting conflict, the brains behind the heist is shot. The police, after hearing a gunshot, storm the building. The police shoot another one of the thieves, and Van Damme is held at gunpoint by the final one. Van Damme briefly imagines a scenario in which he takes the robber out using karate, but in reality, he just elbows him and the police get him. Van Damme is arrested for extortion due to his making the demand of $465,000 to the law firm which is handling his custody case while speaking as the ringleader of the group and sentenced to 1 year in prison. The final scene shows him teaching karate to other inmates, then being visited by his mother and daughter.