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Recommended: A Tribute to Jean-Claude Van Damme, “Sadsack Ass-Kicker”

Recommended: A Tribute to Jean-Claude Van Damme, “Sadsack Ass-Kicker” (photo)

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At, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky has written a sincere appreciation of faded action star and frequent punchline Jean-Claude Van Damme in honor of the Muscles From Brussels’ 50th birthday. I don’t know that I’ve ever read anyone write or speak this affectionately about Van Damme, and I love it. As far as Vishnevetsky is concerned, the troubles that have befallen Van Damme’s personal life and career have only increased his potency as an action hero:

“For an action star, Van Damme has an unbearably sad face–and like Buster Keaton’s blank mug, it’s only gets sadder as he ages–but then again Van Damme has always been an anomaly: he’s no good at delivering one-liners, he isn’t terrifying and he looks ridiculous holding a gun. Unlike, say, Schwarzenegger, he looks exactly like a guy you fuck with: small, pretty, vulnerable, resigned to a life of getting punched in the face. The sadsack ass-kicker, with great big insomniac bags under his eyes.”

Vishnevetsky pays homage to the importance of Van Damme’s physical and dramatic shortcomings without mentioning the fascinating (if flawed) film in which Van Damme himself acknowledges them: 2008’s “JCVD,” where the actor, playing himself, bares his soul in a series of shockingly powerful monologues like this one:

It hasn’t been the best birthday week for Van Damme. Twitch reported that the star had suffered a heart attack on the set of his latest (direct-to-DVD) movie, “Weapon,” forcing JCVD to take to his Facebook page to deny the report in the third person. “Please do not believe all what you read from rumors on any unofficial JVCD [sic] sites,” he wrote, according to Reuters. “Jean-Claude Van Damme is 100 percent healthy, training well for taking the fight and sending his fans and friends much love.”

Whether Van Damme had a heart attack or not, the fact that he felt the need to insist he hadn’t — to reassert his strength and invulnerability in a field that demands it of its stars — only strengthens Vishnevetsky’s argument. Van Damme’s always trying to prove himself to us. Maybe the fact that he sometimes fails — something an action film should never do — is what makes him valuable.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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