First Shaquille O'Neill, then Michael Jordan, now Dennis Rodman. Basketball players are becoming movie stars so fast you almost expect to catch a preview for "Lil' Penny Meets The Muppets" sometime soon.

This time, however, the movie makers did an intelligent thing. They didn't make their basketball player the star.

Double Team is, in all honesty, a Jean-Claude Van Damme film. IT is not a Van Damme - Rodman buddy pic, it is not a Van Damme takes a back seat to this no-talent upstart flick. It is a Van Damme flick, plain and simple. And you know what? It's also the best Van Damme flick since Timecop and just a really fun action movie in any world.

Van Damme plays this incredible spy/hit man/secret agent/pasty chef. He's out to get Mickey Rourke, who's a very very bad man. He gets help from this arms dealer who happens to hold a lot of NBA rebound records. It takes place in Rome. More or less. Along the way, he dies, finds this secret world-wide world-domination country club (kinda an International Microsoft) and impregnates his wife. All in a day's work.

Most people think about this movie and say "Nope. Ain't gonna see a Dennis Rodman film." Well don't worry, you don't. Dennis is only around when Van Damme needs him, and there are huge sections of the film without him. Besides. He's a lot of fun. I mean I wouldn't ask Rodman to portray Hamlet, but for what he is and what he does in this film, he's great. Every time he comes on screen, you just know something fan's going to happen.

I would like to thank the city of Rome for allowing one of their national treasures, indeed one of the world's most recognizable historical treasures, to be absolutely destroyed for a Van Damme film. I mean I knew he had overseas draw, but wow! Makes me think of some American treasures I'd love to see bombed in a movie:

Die Hard 4: The Washington Monument - Bruce Willis dives off of the top of the Washington Monument into the Lincoln Reflection Pool as the monument goes up in flames.

Speed 3: In the Mall of America - Sandra Bullock, on vacation in Minnesota, gets on a security cart that can't go slower than 3 miles an hour or it'll explode. She ends up smashing through the historical mall, ruining American Pride and quite a few fantastic sales in the process.

Volcano 2: The Grand Canyon - They find yet another dormant volcano which erupts and fills the canyon with lava, wiping out our beloved national treasure and cooking a number of lazy and slow tourists.

Independence Day 2 - The real mother ship shows up and does even more damage until finally being destroyed and crashing on top of the biggest ball of twine in the world, destroying yet another national treasure.

You get the idea. Incidentally, all of these ideas are copyrighted and sole property of Self-Made Inc. and more importantly, me. Don't steal 'em, I'll get you.

Anyway, Double Team is a lot of fun and worth seeing, especially if you like Van Damme. It's directed by yet another Hong Kong action director making his American debut, just like Maximum Risk and Hard Target were first times for their foreign director. Man, Van Damme uses so many foreigners to direct his films, makes me question his American Decent. It seems it's become a tradition for these masters of explosions to cut their teeth on a Van Damme flick to prepare them for making a real movie, in a real language. I hear the waiting list to direct his films goes around the block, up the stairs, and fills a number of those individual sleeping bunks. Or is that Japan? Whatever.

I give Double Team 3 2/3 Babylons. Lots of action, lots of cool stuff, and Paul Freeman, best known as Belloch from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Always glad to see him in action.

He'd have been a great repeat villain for Indiana Jones. If his face hadn't blown up.

Editor's Note:

Mr. Self-Made Critic has put his heads together, all one of them, and decided that The Summer Blockbuster season begins on May 9th with the release of Bruce Willis's sci-fi extravaganza The 5th Element, and Robin William's and Billy Crystal's comedic gem, Father's Day. He figures two big films on one day mean summer is here, one day earlier than last year.

He was going to start it two weeks earlier with the release of Volcano, but as we all know, Summer just doesn't start in April. It starts in May, when the high school seniors have been accepted into college and therefore don't bother going to class anymore.

Look for The Self-Made Guide to Summer, coming soon. Or at least before May 9th.