Shock-O-Rama: Timecop -

Shock-O-Rama: Timecop

16 Comments | Add


Rate & Share:


Related Links:



  • Series:

Shock-O-Rama: Timecop

There's never enough time

By Chuck Francisco     December 21, 2012

Before he came in the easily brandied about moniker of JCVD, Jean-Claude Van Damme cut his teeth has the high kicking Belgian bad ass of many raucous action flicks. Taking the torch of manly action from the 80’s into the 90’s, Van Damme round housed his way through insane plots which would often feature himself in the dual role of his brother, or paired with pop culture superstars du jour (like Dennis Rodman).  The more absurd his films became, the more endearingly action fans clung to him, but the dynamic of actions films took a dramatic turn away from his style. The bottom dropped out, and in the wake of a new brand of actioner, he was found wanting. An interesting thing happened then: many fans tried to retroactively abandon his ship. What was excused and hand waved away as part of the fun of the time was now being laughed at and mocked in retrospect. One of his films, though, stands strong against a tide of merciless mockery. Upon the backs of Street Fighter, Double Team, Hard Target, and Sudden Death, rises a shining example of excellent 90’s filmmaking: Timecop.


1994’s Timecop is the story of Walker (Van Damme), an agent of the Time Enforcement Commission (TEC).  Time travel is a recent innovation and, in order to prevent its misuse, TEC polices it by sending agents after rogue travellers. Van Damme plays Walker as a burnt out man, merely going through the motions out of a sense of duty. Having lost his wife ten years prior (ironically on the day he accepted his position at the TEC), Walker is constantly dogged by the knowledge that he can’t use this powerful technology to save his lost wife. That compulsion drives him to thwart anyone who would use it to merely profit financially. It works really well here, with Van Damme subduing his normally campy protagonist persona for something more relatable. It’s a “mistake” he wouldn’t make again, apparently.


Exerting his force opposite Walker is the senator who heads the TEC’s oversight committee, McComb (played with charismatic sleaze by the sadly passed Ron Silver). The good senator is misusing time travel in order to fund his run for the presidency. With the threat of the death of their ancestors (thus wiping opponents out of existence), McComb works an angle more compelling that any mob boss could ever call to bear. The setup would almost come off as mustache twirling villainy, except that Silver’s deadly serious demeanor sells it. (Fellow fans of Mr. Silver should seek out the unsuccessful pilot for Ben Stiller’s Heat Vision and Jack, which featured him in the role of the big bad.  It’s available in 3 parts on YouTube and also features Owen Wilson as a talking motorcycle)


The fight choreography on display is of a much more believable variety then we’d become accustomed to from Van Damme, though you’ll find his usual set of unnecessary splits, and kick sequences designed solely to showcase his ego. Despite that the motivation, it continues to be impressive, otherwise we wouldn’t keep coming around to watch it. And turn out in droves the audiences did. Timecop earned over $103 million dollars, making it Jean-Claude’s highest grossing starting role.


One of the most interesting tidbits about Timecop is that it used one of the sets from The Hudsucker Proxy. The 1929 sequence, where Walker is apprehending a former partner who engineered financial gain for McComb while simultaneous causing the stock market crash, shares a fascinatingly unintended similarity to the Cohen Brothers film. Both feature a character diving through a window to their death (though The Hudsucker Proxy uses it to setup a hilarious joke).  Coincidence? Perhaps. Then it’s also coincidental that both of these films still live among my VHS collection (hooray plastic rectangles of delight!).   


The light of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s star may have drastically dimmed since his super noval 90’s, but if you’re looking for a testosterone filled camp-fest, any number of his flicks could be exactly what Dr. Maniac ordered. Though Timecop is his highest quality film, a great many arguments can be made to how much fun many of the others are (I’m a total sucker for Street Fighter despite, or perhaps because of, the cheese factor). So the next time someone goes for the low hanging fruit of a Van Damme joke, remind them that Timecop was a quality entry in his filmography. It may just remind them of a time when film viewers could afford a little more civility and quite a bit less cynicism. What’s your favorite JCVD motion picture?

And if you simply can't get enough horror happenings here on Mania, might I humbly suggest checking out Tuesday Terrors? It's got all the shocking news to keep you current (and possibly help you survive until the credits roll).

Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Saturday's Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famous Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.


Showing items 1 - 10 of 16
1 2 >  >>  
flyinroo 12/22/2012 12:43:29 AM

 I'm not a JCVD fan overall, but he did make a few films that I enjoy. Timecop was definitely one of them, and I really enjoy Nowhere to Run. And I absolutely get a kick out of Bloodsport and the ultra campy Kickboxer. There was a certain level of camp that his movies had that I could get into, but far too many took it to lengths that I couldn't dumb down enough to watch. Timecop and Nowhere to Run stand out as the closest to pretty good mainstream movies as he would ever come. 

I also enjoyed Expendables 2, though his role was quite small over all, so it doesnt really count.

FilchX 12/22/2012 1:27:34 AM

 Isnt Timecop also a comic adaption?

And Uneversal Soilder is van dame's best flick. But time cop, no were to run and Hard target (I do believe jon woo's first american flick) are all solid movies. 

And who doesnt love Bloodsport..."first I break friend, next I break you." awesome

hanso 12/22/2012 2:30:39 AM

 Van Damme is awesome, as is TimeCop.  I liked Double Impact, Lionheart, and Cyborg too.  Oh and Sudden Death as well.  JCVD from 1988 to 1995 was money in my book.  After Sudden Death everything went to hell, starting with the Bloodsport knock off The Quest which JCVD directed and wrote I believe.  Then you had crap like Knock Off and Double Team ans shit turned sad yo.

hanso 12/22/2012 2:38:41 AM

 I would have to say Double Impact is my favorite Van Damme movie.  It has double the Van Damme and boobs!  Plus it had comedy as well, and Van Damme has a secret island hideout like he was a Bond villain.  Also, the boss fights at the end were cool. 

Btw Chuck, how on Earth can you be a sucker for Street Fighter?  That shit makes me cry.  Not only is it a crap JCVD flick it also completely rapes The Street Fighter source material.  Only cool thing was Van Damme's Guile kick.  

DarkXid 12/22/2012 3:50:21 AM

 It didn't hurt that Mia Sara was his wife in that movie.  Yum.

BunyonSnipe 12/22/2012 5:00:27 AM

I do love this movie, but the science is just DUMB!

If you come into contact with your own past self... THAT happens..? REEEAALLY?!?!!!

almostunbiased 12/22/2012 5:25:49 AM

I loved Timecop when it came out.  Watched it recently and it suffered some with age, but still enjoyed it.  Not one I would buy however.  Oh and yea Mia Sara is very hot.

TheSilentKiller 12/22/2012 6:10:45 AM

 Everything up to Sudden Death was pretty good to sweet. But then the quality dropped off pretty quickly. Hanso - I thought Frank Dux wrote The Quest?

CyanideRush 12/22/2012 7:38:56 AM

 I'm not really sure, Hanso. My brain knows that it's garbage, but at the same time, I get a good laugh out of how silly it is. So sad that it is the last role of Raul Julia.

and you're right FilchX, Timecop was adapted from a comic of the same name.


hanso 12/22/2012 9:35:21 AM

 Silent, i looked it up on IMDB and it says JCVD and Frank Dux got story credits for The Quest and someone else wrote the script.

1 2 >  >>  


You must be logged in to leave a comment. Please click here to login.