I was being interviewed by the Internet the other day, and based on the questions asked by the Internet, the tone of the Internet's voice, and the Internet's apparent lack of testicular fortitude, I deduced that somehow the Internet had gone all this time without watching one of my best, most seminal films, Jean Claude Van Damme's The Quest. This is not the kind of thing you just nod at and let go, anymore than you would sit idly while a man beats his fine-ass wife in his own house. We have very few true secular commandments in this world, so they have to be iron clad. 1: You don't kill people. 2: You try not to lie too much. 3: You lend people a hand if somewhere along the way they screwed up and failed to see The Quest. So that is what I'm here to do. I'm going to convince you to watch The Quest simply by describing it to you. After which, you will find yourself helplessly drawn to its evenhanded musk. The Quest came to be because my good friend Jean Claude Van Damme wanted me to make him the ultimate young Jean Claude Van Damme film. He also wanted full credit for it, so people would take him more seriously as an artist. As far as anyone knew, The Quest was not to be a Sam Strange film. I of course said yes. Jean Claude Van Damme is a friend, after all. We go way back. Hell, I was there when he got that pesky bump on his forehead (he happened to look up just as a mountain toppled over onto his face). And it is the perfect young Jean Claude Van Damme movie. You might say, "What about Bloodsport?" I would respond to this with, "Don't be a shit head. Bloodsport is a very young Van Damme movie." The film begins in a random bar. To some very big inspirational music an old man wanders in and talks to the bartender about old times. He orders a coffee. Just out of kindness, the bartender offers to put a shot of whiskey in it for free. "That would be nice," the old man says. Then some jive motherfuckers walk in straight out of The Warriors and the old man has to beat the shit out of them. The old man is no old man at all, but an old Jean Claude Van Damme.
Shocked, the bartender asks, "Where did you learn to fight like that." With that, Jean Claude Van Damme begins to tell his story. It's called "The Quest." And if you have a brain in your head, you're watching it right now. We travel now back to 1925 and Jean Claude Van Damme is the leader of a gang of French orphan clown thieves. Their con is simple: Jean Claude Van Damme hangs out on stilts until asshole cops start hassling him, forcing him to kick their asses off. While everyone's distracted, the kids rob them blind.
This cannot last forever, and soon Jean Claude Van Damme finds himself pursued by police, forcing him to stowaway on a shipping boat. The captain of the boat discovers him the next day and plans to throw him over, but just then another boat opens fire on Van Damme's boat. Never much of an idiot, Van Damme immediately starts kicking his captors asses in front of his emancipator, a roguish Roger Moore. Insead of turning him into a slave, Roger Moore decides to sell him to an asskicker trainer since, as he claims, Van Damme is "the greatest fighter I've ever seen in my life." Van Damme is naive, so he goes along with it.
So they welcome Van Damme only to abandon him on asskicker island, run by supreme asskicker, Mr. Kick. The technique on this island is simple: Everyone beats on Van Damme until they get tired. Then they eat rice. Six months go by. If Van Damme wasn't a badass when this movie began, he sure as fuck is one now.
I now must leave Jean Claude Van Damme to take care of other business. You see, while all this is going on, minor badasses call upon the world's greatest fighters and invite them to the world's most exclusive fighting tournament, so exclusive that the invitation has a map and you can't even find the place without one. We see lots of fighters get such an invite, but only one matters: James Remar. He's the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, and he puts up his dukes in that really old fashioned way like the big dude from Raiders of the Lost Ark. He also has a mustache kind of like Von Kaiser.
Also, Roger Moore and his sidekick hit on a pretty lady who turns out to be a journalist. You may have her pegged as a future Van Damme conquest, but this is one of those rare pure Van Damme, A-sexual characters. Her purpose does not reveal itself until the last moment of the film. Anyway, she and Roger Moore go to see a cage fight and, goddamn if it isn't Van Damme in the ring. Moore immediately wants to skip town because he's afraid of getting killed if Van Damme sees him. Well, Van Damme wins the fight, sees him, and tracks his ass down. But instead of killing Roger Moore, he demands Roger Moore smuggle him away from Mr. Kick. See, and it's good to remind yourself of this every once in a while, Van Damme still cares about his fellow orphan clown thieves, and he not only wants to return to them, but return to them with enough money that they can finally get off the streets. To do this, he wants to join this big badass tournament because he heard the prize is a golden dragon. Hearing of this dragon, Roger Moore is like fuck yeah. The problem is, they don't have one of those nifty maps to help them get in. Enter James Remar, looking like a real American doofus.
The plan is to follow James Remar around until a time presents itself where they can steal his map. Instead he and Jean Claude Van Damme get in a fight and he just forfeits his map. He even comes back again when the tournament starts to tell the MC, "Hey, Jean Claude Van Damme kicked my ass, so you probably want him more than me." They agree the substitute, but if Jean Claude Van Damme doesn't win his first match, James Remar has to stay on Fighting Island for the rest of his life. That's like actually living in Park City, Utah. Anyway, don't worry. Jean Claude Van Damme wins his first fight. And all the other fights. I spent so much time getting us to this point that, I must admit, I had to ease off on the fights. There are all kinds of cool warriors from around the world, but most of the actual matches go by quicker than you'd probably like. One fighter in particular, a little Korean guy who acts like different animals, gets the short shift in a way that's not fair. I don't even really have time to properly set up the main bad guy. I just picked someone who looks tough and had him kill a nice guy from Mr. Kick's school so Jean Claude has someone to avenge, even though he kind of hated that school.
While all this is going on, Roger Moore and his sidekick, decide to use a blimp and just steal the damn golden dragon while everyone's watching the fights. This almost works, except they're a couple of comic assholes and can't fly without bumping into everything. Eventually they get put in jail, forcing Jean Claude to forfeit the dragon. Now he's fighting to save their lives. This means he just sold out his army of French orphan clown thieves for a couple of butt heads who keep screwing him over. Right after this, Jean Claude fights the main bad guy and kicks his ass. But this is no little fight. It pours out into the dirty street, then into the villagers' grass huts. It's one of the longer, more interesting fights I've ever filmed, and I'm immensely proud of it.
As the movie ends, he tells us from his old man perspective that everything worked out with the orphan clown thieves, though we don't ever know exactly what he means by that. "In the end, we all did just fine," is all you get. But if Jean Claude says so, that should be all the explaination you need. He also gives us one sentence wrap ups for everyone else in the film, all while the bartender listens, rapt with attention one assumes. And then Old Jean Claude reveals to us that he was not actually telling the story from memory but reading from a book entitled "The Quest" written by that journalist lady. So now we finally know why she was in this film in the first place.
And with that, The Quest unfortunately ends. If you still haven't seen it, surely by now you understand why you must fix that as soon as you can (it's on Netflax Inflax). I do believe it may be the greatest of all my films. Oh no, wait. That's Cobra. But this is definitely number two.