Yes, it is true – I have never watched Timecop (1994).

Why? Actually, I don’t know. Timecop isn’t a movie I’ve gone out of my way to avoid, it’s just one of those films I’ve just never gotten around to watching.

My knowledge of this film is very basic. I know that it stars Jean-Claude Van Damme; I know that it involves time travel (and presumably some kind of detective work); and I know that it is based on a comic. Other than this, I know very little about Timecop.

But all this is about to change, as I am about to give Timecop my undivided attention. Will I fall in love with Van Damme, or will I be left disappointed? It’s time to find out.

Image: ©Universal Pictures

*Clicks the play button*

2mins – I am knee-deep in opening credits; however, the accompanying music is very dramatic and I like it. Oh, and Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert were involved in this movie. I did not know this. Both of these guys were involved in The Evil Dead (1981) and the television series, Xena: Warrior Princess (1995 – 2001), so this is a good start.

2mins 30secs – The film opens in 1863.

4mins – Erm… a bad guy with automatic weapons in 1863? This must be a time travel thing.

5mins 30secs – Hmm… a group of government officials are explaining the rules of time travel. Apparently, time travel is very confusing to understand. Instead of concentrating on the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff, all we need to know is the misuse of time travel can benefit terrorists. Got that? Good. Now don’t question anything else.

9mins 30secs – Jean-Claude Van Damme has just stopped a mugging and has made an old lady very happy. If this isn’t a great introduction to a fine upstanding hero, then what is?

11mins – Van Damme is celebrating a good day of heroic deeds by sleeping with his wife. She has something important to tell him and I am going to hazard a guess here and say she could be pregnant. Either that or they are having lasagne for dinner.

14mins 30secs – The sex scene has gone in a different direction than I expected. Instead of hot passionate action, a bunch of hoodlums have arrived, have shot Van Damme, and have blown up his house, presumably killing his wife in the process. Bugger.

19mins – And now, without any real explanation, Van Damme has materialised in the 1920s and he appears to be in full time cop mode – with no mention of what just happened. I am filling in the blanks here, but I guess the death of his wife has pushed Van Damme into the time travel programme and I am now seeing an older and much more brutal version of the action star.


27mins 30secs – A bit more talk here about the rules of time travel – presumably to explain why Van Damme doesn’t just go back in time to stop his wife from dying. I am still under the presumption she died, as there has been no real explanation. Maybe Van Damme is just pissed off that his house blew up and he didn’t get any lasagne.

32mins – You can tell this is an early ‘90s cop movie, because every so often some sexy sax music plays in the background. All good ‘90s cop movies had sexy sax music playing in the background. If you were a saxophonist during the late ‘80s/early ‘90s you had job security.

37mins – Iconic scene alert! Van Damme has just escaped being electrocuted by 50,000 volts.

Image: ©Universal Pictures

44mins – So, Van Damme has travelled back in time to the budget-friendly era of 1994 – the same year the movie was made. Genius. Pure genius. A great way to save money is to set your time travel movie in present day.

53mins – I must say, I am really enjoying Timecop. This is low budget stuff, with no money for huge stunts, but Van Damme has plenty of opportunity to do what he does best – kick some ass! This is what I am here for.

55mins 30secs – Ah, shit! Van Damme just frozen someone’s arm! He then made a joke about not making the right quip when freezing someone’s arm!

1hr 07mins – Van Damme is being framed for a murder he didn’t commit.

1hr 09mins – The story is revisiting a scene from the start of the movie. Maybe Van Damme will be given the opportunity to save his house? Oh yeah, and maybe he can stop his wife from dying too.

1hr 11mins – Oh dear, Van Damme’s wife (from the past) has just asked: “Where am I ten years from now?” Jeez, don’t answer that question, Jean-Claude. That question is up there with “Does this outfit make me look fat?” and “What are you thinking about right now?” And just in case you are wondering what the answers to those questions are, the default responses are: “No” and “I was thinking about you – and how great you look in that outfit.”


1hr 13mins – Hmm… time travel problems. Old Van Damme is stood watching young Van Damme snog his wife. This is a bit awkward.

1hr 24mins – Van Damme is up against it. His (past) wife is being held at gunpoint and the bad guy has just taken the piss out of all the high-kicking he does. Low blow, man. Low blow. Just wait until Jean-Claude hands you your ass.

1hr 32mins – As the movie comes to a close, all is right with the world, Van Damme is off home to sleep with his wife, and a saxophonist is saxing to the max! Oh, and the house is intact.

**Clicks stop**

Well, that was pretty good. Sure, not a great deal happens and the film relies heavily on Van Damme’s stunt work, but Timecop ticks all the right boxes.

You know, growing up during the 1980s and 1990s I was surrounded by action stars. Not literally you understand, it wasn’t like Chuck Norris lived next door, or Dolph Lundgren worked at Bejam; but in terms of the general zeitgeist, actors like Norris and Lundgren were everywhere.

Personally, I always gravitated towards Arnold Schwarzenegger as my default action hero – Jean-Claude Van Damme never really entered my sphere. I watched a couple of Van Damme movies, such as Cyborg (1989) and Street Fighter (1994), but I never had any real interest in his portfolio.

Watching Timecop has given me a new appreciation for his brand of action movie. I have not abandoned Arnie, he is still my go-to action guy, but I can see why Van Damme has a loyal fanbase. Timecop is heaps of fun and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Not life changing, but certainly fun. So, hurrah for Van Damme and hurrah for his ability to go back in time and save his house. And his wife.


If you enjoyed reading about my first flush with Timecop, then you might like to know this is just one of 100 movies discussed in my new book: Rewind to the ’90s – A Journey Through 100 Movies of the 1990s.

The book is available as a digital edition from Amazon UK, Amazon US, and pretty much every Amazon worldwide, and features discussions on movies including Striptease, Quigley Down Under, Passenger 57, Weekend at Bernie’s II, and many more.


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