The streaming wars and the increased competition that comes with having so many platforms available to choose from has seen a huge number of A-list stars and filmmakers sign on to develop their projects exclusively for the small screen, with the likes of Netflix and Amazon much more likely to allow them to retain full creative control than if they pitched up at one of the major studios.
However, it isn’t just the biggest names in the business that have been migrating to streaming, with each company determined to establish the best and most diverse array of in-house content. Case in point: Jean-Claude Van Damme, one of the last holdouts from the straight-to-video action movie’s golden age, will see his next outing, The Last Mercenary, head to Netflix in what will also mark a rare French-language venture for the Muscles from Brussels.
It seems surprising that it’s taken Van Damme so long to make a movie exclusive for streaming, given that he’s used to the vast majority of his output bypassing cinemas completely, with his villainous role in 2012’s The Expendables 2 marking the only time he’s starred in anything that was given a wide theatrical release in the last 20 years. That is, if you discount his brief voice cameos in Kung Fu Panda 2 and 3.
The currently-shooting The Last Mercenary also marks his first foray into action comedy territory, and despite churning out a succession of low-budget genre movies on an annual basis, the 59 year-old’s latest could see him find a wider audience than he has in a long time thanks to Netflix’s global reach and massive subscriber count. Comedy has never exactly been his thing, of course, but maybe Jean-Claude Van Damme is looking to celebrate his 40th year in the business with something of a career reinvention?