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MONACO FOREVER (1984).

Here's a real four-star skeleton in the closet (and you know how much I love them). It's right up there with Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson's striptease in WORKING GIRLS and Brazilian kid-show goddess Xuxa seducing an 11-year-old in LOVE STRANGE LOVE. Well, this time Belgian meatball Jean Claude Van Damme gets to blush at his first screen appearance as "The Homosexual" (as per the video box), long before laying waste to John Woo's mystique in the idea-barren HARD TARGET. This 30-minute sex comedy from director William LeVey (who also uncovered a young Debra Winger in SLUMBER PARTY '57, and gave Frankenstein's monster a square afro in BLACKENSTEIN) is set in 1956 in the South of France (though it was obviously filmed in Malibu). Charles Pitt stars as Michael, an American tourist, who, while walking in the country is offered a ride in Jean Claude's spiffy convertible. Uh oh, Michael better be careful, because Jean Claude is the "Gay Karate Man" (as he's listed in the end credits). "You have strong legs," J-Claude tells Michael, while copping a feel of his thigh. When Michael challenges this "faggot" to a fight ("Please don't hurt me," Jean-Claude mock-pleads), Van Damme peels off his shirt and demonstrates assorted flying kicks. After a few seconds of muscle flexing, Michael runs away, Jean-Claude disappears from the story, and you'll be fumbling for the Rewind button, so you can run through this three minutes of jaw-dropping hilarity again and again, complete with inexplicable use of fish-eye lenses for Van Damme's close-ups! The rest of the pic is virtually unwatchable, as Michael's journey turns into a mix of wrongheaded, often-dreamlike episodes. He has an encounter with character actor/troll Sydney Lassick, playing himself ("I'm an actor! I was in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST!"), and is later seduced by a blonde American dish (Martha Ferris). Turns out Michael is a professional jewel thief, as well as an ex-Nazi officer. How tasteful. Hell, it's all amateurish, incomprehensible crap with the Terminal Cutes. But if you're in search of some Big Damme Laffs, this is essential viewing.

© 1994 by Steven Puchalski.