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MFF Special: Does the Number of Splits in a JCVD Film Impact the Critical and Audience Scores?

August 9, 2017

Does the number of splits in a film impact critical and audience scores? If the star of the film is Jean-Claude Van Damme the answer is “yes.” JCVD is known for his splits and he’s gone to some pretty far lengths to stay relevant in the split world.

86 million views and counting.

I collected the audience (IMDb)/critic (Rotten Tomatoes) data for JCVD’s theatrically distributed films and I’ve discovered something that will shake the foundations of everything we know (probably not). There aren’t that many splits featured throughout JCVD’s cinematic catalog. When thinking about his career I’d just falsely assumed he did splits in every single fight scene. However, after watching way too many clips and reviewing his movies I realized I’m remembering his movies all wrong.  I’d like to thank Grantland (RIP), WatchMojo and Youtube for aiding me in my research.


Before we get any further I want everyone to know that I left out spinning split kicks and kicks where JCVD is kinda splitting. The splits I included are splits that were thrown into the film because JCVD is awesome at splits. The selected splits are all gratuitous and often result in ball punches and other things that hurt.

This is unnecessary.

I also decided to leave out his direct-to-DVD films (sorry Replicant) because I only have so much free time and aside from the latest Universal Soldier movies I don’t think my soul could take it.

Here are the films that are included in the data set:

Bloodsport, Kickboxer, Timecop, Double Team, Cyborg, Double Impact, No Retreat, No Surrender, Street Fighter, Universal Soldier, Universal Soldier: The Return, Maximum Risk, The Quest, Nowhere to Run, Death Warrant, Sudden Death, Hard Target, Lionheart

Here are the averaged RT critic and IMDb user scores according to splits.

0 – 1 splits – 38.6% (Double Team, Cyborg, Double Impact, No Retreat, No Surrender, Street Fighter, Universal Soldier, Universal Soldier: The Return, Maximum Risk, The Quest, Nowhere to Run, Death Warrant, Sudden Death, Hard Target, Lionheart) – There weren’t critic scores for Death Warrant or No Retreat, No Surrender so I averaged the RT score for 0-1 splits movie (25%) and made those the scores.

2 splits – 50.5% (Timecop)

3+ splits – 56.25% (Bloodsport, Kickboxer)

The majority of JCVD’s films fall in the 0-1 split category. I assumed he did at least 7,000 splits in each film and was taken aback when I realized there was a  dearth of splits in most of his movies. However, the three films where he does multiple splits Kickboxer (7), Bloodsport (7) and Timecop (2) are in the top five of his highest rated films.

  1. Kickboxer – 62
  2. Hard Target – 55.5
  3. Sudden Death – 55
  4. Timecop – 50.5
  5. Bloodsport  – 50.5

Bloodsport and Kickboxer are B-movie classics that feature copious montages, solid fights, and villains who have terrible gameplans. They also feature a bonkers (listen to the HDTGM folks talk about JCVD’s films) amount of splits that are straight up gratuitous. When thinking about the splits of JCVD I’d say Bloodsport, Timecop and Kickboxer will come up first. When you ask people about Hard Target they are quick to bring up snake punching and mullets. When you bring up Sudden Death people talk about the insane kitchen fight.

I really didn’t know what to expect from the data but I think it’s credible. Bloodsport and Kickboxer focus on his strengths and don’t give a crap about the plot, saddling him with kids or giving him a twin. They also have the added luxury of coming out first and introduced the world to gratuitous split moments before they were cool (thus they made him cool). Future JCVD films like The Quest and Lionheart mimicked the tournament/revenge plots with much less skill and splits for some reason.

There you have it! The more JCVD splits the better!  If you liked this post make sure to check out my other random data analysis musings.

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  5. Deep Blue Sea and Stellan Skarsgard
  6. How far did Michael Myers Drive in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
  7. How did the Geologist get lost in Prometheus?
  8. People love a bearded Kurt Russell
  9. A Closer Look at Movies That Feature the Words Great, Good, Best, Perfect and Fantastic
  10. An In-Depth Look At Movies That Feature Pencils Used as Weapons
  11. Cinematic Foghat Data
  12. Explosions and Movie Posters
  13. The Fast & Furious & Corona
  14. Nicolas Sparks Movie Posters Are Weird
  15. Predicting the RT score of Baywatch
  16. The Cinematic Dumb Data Podcast
  17. What is the best horror movie franchise?
  18. How fast can the fisherman clean a trunk in I Know What You Did Last Summer?
  19. It’s expensive to feature characters being eaten alive and surviving without a scratch
4 Comments leave one →
  1. John Leavengood permalink
    August 9, 2017 7:15 am

    If it involves JCVD, it makes me smile. Thanks for my Wednesday morning smile. But on a more serious note, what were the RT/IMDB scores just for Double Impact. As an old favorite of mine, I truly hope it is an outlier in the “0 splits” statistical cohort.

    • August 9, 2017 7:17 am

      Thanks! The scores are 5.5 and 14%. Not great but better than some!


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