I love challenges. If you don't have any and can do whatever you want, then it's probably time to die.
Jean-Claude Van Damme (born Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg) is a Belgian martial artist, best known for his Action Hero films. Nicknamed "The Muscles from Brussels," he was a hot darling during the advent of 80s and early 90's Summer Blockbuster action films, before Jackie Chan and Jet Li took center stage.
Before venturing into films, he had a career in the martial arts competitions. He also did some bodybuilding and studied ballet for five years.
Starting with couple minor roles in Breakin', Monaco Forever and Street of the Damned, his first major role in movies was Ivan, the champion of the villains in No Retreat, No Surrender. He later found his Star-Making Role in Bloodsport, which highlighted his legitimate martial arts skills along with his flexibility (a man being able to do full leg splits is fairly rare).
His early films tended to recycle certain plot elements, like his character unknowingly having a twin brother or attending a martial arts competition for the sake of fallen friend.
Tropes applicable to the man:
- Adam Westing: He plays himself in an episode of Las Vegas...and gets Killed Off for Real!
- JCVD is a feature-length version of the trope.
- Amicably Divorced: He and his ex-wife remain close best friends, and he has promised that if she ever needs him, he'll be there to protect her. Aww...
- Captain Ersatz: Johnny Cage from Mortal Kombat games is modeled after him.
- The Cast Showoff: His early films featured him doing the full leg split at least once.
- Cunning Linguist: In addition to French and English, he also speaks German and Spanish.
- Dumb Muscle: How popular media likes to stereotype him as.
- Fake Nationality: As usual with the foreign action stars. Most famously in Street Fighter.
- Nice Guy: By all accounts in Real Life, apparently.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Much like Arnold Schwarzenegger, he is also fairly well known for his thick Belgian accent.
- Shirtless Scene: Nearly every movie features him at least shirtless a minimum of once. Several movies have shown him completely nude. It helps that he has a very nice body.
- What Could Have Been: He was originally set to portray the first Predator, when the original intention with the character was supposed to be quick and ninja-like. He was not very happy with the working conditions (hot suit in hot conditions) and the fact his face would never been seen led him to leave and be recast.
Van Damme's partial filmography:
- Bloodsport (1988) -- As Frank Dux, who is compelled to enter an underground fighting tournament after the death of his sensei.
- Kickboxer (1989) - As Kurt Sloane, who seeks revenge against a brutal kickboxer who paralyzed his brother from the waist down.
- Cyborg (1989) -- Jean-Claude Van Damme being awesome on a post-apocalyptic future. One of director Albert Pyun's most commercially successful films.
- Lionheart (1990) -- As Lyon, who enters American underground fighting circuit after the death of his brother to help his family.
- Double Impact (1991) -- Van Damme's characters find out that they are twin brothers and must avenge the death of their parents.
- Universal Soldier (1992) -- He is pitted against Dolph Lundgren. And it's awesome.
- Universal Soldier: The Return (1999)
- Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009)
- Hard Target (1993) -- Jean-Claude is the Most Dangerous game for the villains. Oh and it's directed by John Woo.
- Street Fighter (1994) -- As Guile. Casting a man with thick Belgian accent as a very American character is only one of the film's ~So Bad It's Good~ highlights.
- Time Cop (1994) -- Van Damme's most commercially successful film.
- Sudden Death (1995) -- Die Hard in a hockey stadium, notable for being filmed almost entirely within the Mellon Center (with the building's huge retractable dome used as part of a plot point), as well as being the debut of the Pittsburgh Penguins' mascot, Iceburgh.
- The Quest (1996) -- He also directed it. The movie wasn't a hit and didn't get very good reviews but it was praised for featuring actual martial artists and fighting styles across the world.
- Maximum Risk (1996) -- Van Damme's character finds out that he had a twin brother and must avenge his death.
- Double Team (1997) -- An anti-terrorist agent must un-retire to stop a terrorist alongside Dennis Rodman.
- Desert Heat (1999) -- An ex-soldier off to visit a friend gets shot by bad guys and his bike stolen. Son of a bitch must pay.
- In Hell (2003) -- An American gets sent to a Russian prison for killing his wife's murderer. Directed by Hong Kong director Ringo Lam, it's one of the few films where Van Damme's fight scenes are few but also actually quite realistic.
- Wake Of Death (2004) -- An ex-cop takes on the Triads after his wife is brutally murdered.
- Second In Command (2006) -- A Navy SEAL commander battles communist insurgents in Moldova.
- Until Death (2007) -- A drug-addicted cop falls into a coma after a gunfight and upon his recovery decides to use his second chance at life. A nice departure from Van Damme's usual Action Hero roles.
- JCVD (2007) -- A self deprecating parody. His most critically praised film.
- Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) -- He is the voice of Master Croc. Feel free to explode if you want to.
- The Expendables 2 (2012) -- Of course. He's playing the villain, in a departure from the norm.
- Would it be improper to add that he's awesome?
- No, it's not.