This is Dog Day Afternoon meets Double Dragon, a postmodern pastiche that trascends its genre ghetto and provides a compelling, often astonishing viewing experience. Self-reflexive without being trite, beautifully shot and staged, this is a triumphant film, transcending all expectation.

The conceit, that the “real” Jean-Claude is caught up in a bank caper and is forced to suffer the consequences, is told through multi perspective flashbacks, with subtle (and not-so subtle) references to his career in action flicks abounding. Yet it is the unsettling moments, the moments of great pathos that are the most striking. Sure, JC gets to do his circus tricks, kicking a cigarette out of a mouth in one sweep, but it’s the tour-de-force monologue about his life, failures, and shattered dreams that’s perhaps the most lasting and poingnant part of the flick.

This is not all dreary introspection and cleverness for its own sake, this is a raucous good time, clever without being precocious. The opening fight scene, shot in a single, exhausting and exhaustive take, is quite incredible. Supported by fabulous character performances by the rest of the ensemble, it is JC that holds the film together on his broad yet aging shoulders. A smart, smart film with lots of kicking, punching, and shooting, all from the “muscles from Brussels” boy in Bloodsport – what’s not to love!