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A History Of Jean-Claude Van Damme
A tribute to the Man, the Myth, the Legend

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The Muscles from Brussels turns Baddie-Who's-The-Daddy in The Expendables 2. In a rare bad guy turn, Jean-Claude Van Damme plays mercenary Jean Vilain and offers a welcome reminder of his ass-kicking capabilities. From humble beginnings as 'Gay Karate Man' in 1985's Monaco Forever, Van Damme has carved a niche for himself, using only raw determination, martial artistry and Spandex along the way. To mark the occasion, here's our celebration his life and work.

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The Fights!

As Franck Dux in Bloodsport, Van Damme successfully negotiates a host of heavy-hitting opponents, as well as the US military and Leah Ayres' big-hearted, big-haired reporter to reach the final of the Kumite, an underground Hong Kong martial arts tournament. Van Damme, a one-time karate world championship finalist, knew his way around the dojo as he proves bringing the pain to Bolo Yeung with a display of his trademark roundhouse kicks - shrugging off a face-full of quicklime and a seriously terrible '80s synth soundtrack in the process.

In A.W.O.L., Van Damme's legionnaire-on-the-lam Lyon Gaultier is wheeled out as after-dinner entertainment for bloodthirsty yuppies and forced to go mano-a-mano with the aptly-named Attila. Seven-and-a-bit feet of mutton-chomped monstrousness, Attila proceeds to pulverise him for five uninterrupted minutes. Just as we're reaching for the Seagal DVD, a bloodied and battered JCVD rouses himself to turn the tables with a blur of stonewashed high-kicking. With the crowd baying for a brutal coup de grace, JCVD walks away, proving that genuine humanity rests beneath that rippled torso. Or that he's gone a bit soft.

The opening fight sequence in Timecop may not quite see Van Damme at his ass-kicking best, but then he's just been woken up in the middle of a lie-down. Bleary-eyed it may be, but this scrap ticks all the key JCVD boxes, as he fights off three Tazar-wielding intruders using knives, high-kicks and, er, tea towels. All while clad only in pants. Once again, the ability to do the splits proves the difference. As 50,000 volts worth of Tasar-based incineration course across the kitchen floor, JCVD somehow balances himself lithely between dishwasher and sideboard, saving his life and treating the world to another glimpse of his bum.

The villain-in-disguise scene is a staple of the '80s action blockbuster, as Under Siege's musicians or Die Hard 2's handymen proved. None, though, has been executed with as much surreal panache as Van Damme's unmasking of Icey, Sudden Death's mascot-cum-lady terrorist. Locked in kitchen combat deep in the bowels of the Pittsburgh's Civic Arena, Van Damme's beleaguered fireman puts every available appliance and condiment (note the use of chilli flakes) to good use, in a scene that plays like an ultra-violent edition of Saturday Kitchen.

John Woo's Hollywood debut Hard Target sees JCVD cast as Chance Boudreaux, a lank-haired loner on the streets of New Orleans. When Chance finds distressed damsel Yancy Butler being mugged by four henchmen, he is forced to administer massive doses of Cajun-style justice. Within minutes, arch-villain Lance Henriksen is advertising for new henchmen. Returning Yancy's stolen handbag to her, JCVD wanders off into the sunset to an axe Blues guitar solo. The haircut may be rubbish, but the nonchalant toughness is remarkable.
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Your Comments

Greatest action star EVER!!!! More

Posted by drews on Sunday August 19, 2012, 15:13

Sudden Death is from the 90's. More

Posted by Pelle on Sunday August 19, 2012, 09:33

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