Friday Fisticuffs: TimeCop (1994)

I’ve never actually read the Dark Horse comics that Timecop is based on. I don’t think that hinders or adds to my viewing experience, I just figured I’d throw that out there. I do remember thinking it was cool when I read that the movie was based on a comic book, though, because the early 90s were not a good time for such things and, at the time, any comic book-based movie had my immediate support. In a theoretical sense at least. I didn’t actually see TimeCop until years later, but it’s still a fun 90s action movie that I hold in relative esteem (or as much esteem as one can hold for a somewhat goofy time travel action movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme).

So, your basic premise here is that a younger version of JCVD gets hired to work as a time cop. I’m not exactly sure how criminals are gaining access to time travel and using it to the point where an entire organization needs to be created to stop them, but whatever. In the mid 90s, VD’s wife is killed in an assault on their house (it’s not really a spoiler because it happen in the first 20 minutes or so). We jump an undesignated amount of time into the future (his hair is long now) and Van Damme’s an established time cop who stumbles upon a senator’s plan to go back in time to make money for his presidential campaign. The interesting thing about this is that it’s not entirely a greed-based scheme with the villain claiming at one point that the president needs to have enough of his own money so he’s not falling prey to bribes and such. The trouble is that the senator is well connected and has access to his own time travel machine, which he uses to actually change the past, which causes considerable trouble for JCVD.

As you might expect from Van Damme in his ass-kicking prime, the action scenes in this flick are a lot of fun, though there aren’t quite as many as I would have liked. There’s the somewhat famous underwear fight scene where he does the splits on the counter to avoid being electrocuted. I remember seeing that in the trailers from the time. There’s also a pretty huge fight at the end with future JCVD going back in time and teaming up with his past self to fight the senator and his army of henchmen, though it leans a little more towards gun play than all out martial arts action.

Here’s the non-fighting problem with this movie: it doesn’t seem to have a very good grasp of itself from a pacing perspective. The stakes at hand seem pretty high, with time being at stake, but then the movie wraps up in a fight at a cop’s house. Doesn’t that seem a bit anti-climactic? Ah well, I kept expecting more from the movie, even as it was ending, but, to be fair, I had very low expectations for the movie. Overall, the general concept is pretty strong if not very basic (cop’s protecting time). I’d be interested in checking out the comic along with the 2003 straight to DVD sequel. Why aren’t there more time travel action flicks out there? Seems like you could do a whole series of movies on this concept alone with some pretty amazing Thai action stars and some scratch.

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