The Remuscles from Brussels: The Comeback of Jean-Claude Van Damme


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Jean-Claude Van Damme‘s moment in the sun was in the 1980s when he kickboxed his way through a series of cheap and schlocky B Pictures, usually financed by Golan-Globus, and which filled the shelves in the Action section of video stores, alongside junky films that starred muscle-bound types of varying acting and action skill – people like Steven Seagal, Dolph Lundgren, Mark Dacascos, Jason Lee, and Michael Dudikoff. Van Damme was close to the top of this questionable pile.

Then it all went wrong, and the fame and the money and the drugs became too much. But a few years ago he started on the comeback road. The comeback started when he decided if he was going to become a parody of himself, he should at least have fun being a parody of himself. The result was JCVD.

It helped rehabilitate his career. He was the voice of Master Croc in Kung_Fu Panda 2. He was far and away the best thing in The Expendables 2, giving a wildly eccentric and funny performance as the bad guy.

Then there was this recent ad for Volvo which had jaws dropping.

Up next are a couple of films that will keep him in the public mind. Enemies Closer looks like Southern Comfort meets First Blood. Van Damme is the villain, but there’s no question he’s the star.

Then there is a very Survivor-type broad comedy – Welcome to the Jungle – that riffs on his eccentric image and bizarre mangling of the English language.

Can Van Damme finally join the A-list? Or will he forever only have an odd, cult following among action fans? And now that he’s back in the public eye, will he bury the hatchet with – or into – Seagal?

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