Mayhem reigns in Toronto's "Midnight Madness" films

Fri Sep 5, 2008 4:01pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Ka Yan Ng

TORONTO (Reuters) - Forget red carpets and polite Hollywood stars. Mayhem reigns at the Toronto film festival's "Midnight Madness" movies that kicked off, literally, with an early Friday morning screening of "JCVD" in which aging action hero Jean-Claude Van Damme pokes fun at his own career.

The Toronto festival is one of the world's top movie gatherings and Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton and even young Dakota Fanning will be in town walking up the glamorous red carpet at gala screenings.

But at midnight, the glitz is packed up and moviegoing gets down to dark, bloody, and outlandishly funny films that help define the range of about 300 films overall at the festival.

In the past, Midnight Madness has launched Hollywood hits such as Sacha Baron Cohen's comedy "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" and horror flick "Saw," which spawned several gory sequels.

Studio executives prey on the offbeat material for their next big hits, and the buzz around "JCVD" is pretty strong.

Van Damme plays himself, an international action hero who's down on his luck and going through a custody battle. His aging body makes it hard to kick butt, and he's in money trouble.

He heads back to his hometown to escape life, but is taken hostage in a heist-gone-awry and has to fight his way out. Sure, there's high-flying kicks, but Van Damme won fans here for a monologue he delivers addressing his personal demons.

Known as the "Muscles from Brussels," Van Damme was not among the predominantly male audience in the early morning hours on Friday, and he apologized via a brief video message.   Continued...

<p>Actor Jean-Claude Van Damme gestures at a photocall on the beach front during the 61st Cannes Film Festival in this May 17, 2008 file photo. Van Damme's latest film "JCVD" is featured as part of the Toronto Film Festivals' "Midnight Madness" program,which in the past has featured hits such as "Saw" and "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan." REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/Files</p>