Hollywood loves a good nickname. Tom Cruise is Ethan Hunt for us.
If you were to close your eyes and remain blindfolded for a few hours and were asked to reveal the name that struck your mind upon hearing ‘Bond, James Bond’ you’d undoubtedly name either among Sir Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, or Daniel Craig.
Would you not? Similarly, in Keanu Reeves, we’ve got John Wick. Probably, it’s easier than the meaning of his Hawaiian name; Cool Breeze Over The Mountains.
That told, few actors have such an arresting nickname as a certain Belgian martial-artist who goes by the name of ‘Muscles from Brussels.’
Many lovingly address him as ‘JCVD.’
But no matter what one might say, there’s no stopping or slowing down Jean Claude Van Damme.
The guy is an absolute gun. He can make the others look a bit like a tool.
When not filming, he’s exercising. When not doing both, he’s doing the epic splits and in the process, increasing brand sales of high-end luxury wagons on which he finds a way to balance his finely sculpted body at moving speed.
Part-man, part-martial arts legend, pure enigma, Jean Claude Van Damme is this endless body of work whose essence perhaps means living life minus any full-stops, which is why, at 58, the guy is brawn and brains, beefy but not cheeky, stylish but not outlandish, and above all, a man of commitment and some grit.
So which have been 5 of his most memorable movies?
Usually the sight of Van Damme kicking butt is endearing to his fans. But back then, in his heydays, Van Damme had a greater impact for the simple reason that he boasted of sophisticated charm.
As Frank Dux, a successful fighter who goes on to win a top-secret underground man-to-man, fist-to-fist, edgy, ‘on the limit’ combat event, Van Damme essayed with grit and a sense of style, the passionate life of a true martial arts legend.
His brooding intensity and smoldering good looks made this eighties film, an epic.
2) Universal Soldier
Few are those occasions where two successful action stars combine forces to launch an avalanche of action and thrill.
In one of his famous hits of the nineties, a roaring time for Jean Claude Van Damme, the Belgian teamed up with Swedish Dolph Lundgren and the two came together as remorseless former soldiers who had been brought to life as ‘unisols’; quite simply, as being some ‘killing machines.’
With Dolph Lundgren’s lanky persona, JCVD’s quaint simplicity was used albeit as the perfect foil to offset the former. This worked box office wonders in a flick that had a bit of everything: high octane fights, romance- believe it as only Van Damme could do, cops on the loose and JCVD teaching them a thing about butt-kicking action.
You don’t really get to play yourself, in front of the whole world, in a movie that albeit, being fiction, has you in the titular role- right?
Even Steven Segal or Arnold, and not even Sly have a flick named after them but JCVD has.
Trust Van Damme to pull certain things off as only he could.
As a former successful actor, who’s fallen on bad times and obviously, down the path of non-existing career, where there’s financial woes and so much of trouble, JCVD did his best bit of acting at that point in time, as they said.
None other than Nicholas Cage accepted- Vam Damme’s grown as an actor who plainly acts and gets the job ‘done’.
4) The Expendables 2
Imagine Jean Claude Van Dame as the evil crime lord of a syndicate of loosely banded miscreants who possess unlimited ammo and above all, that mercilessness to kill?
Hey, wasn’t Van Damme the savior? Well, never doubt the man and his ability to indulge in Van Dammage.
In Sly Stallone’ epic action ensemble, Van Damme was the slick, knife-wielding baddie who happened to uplift audiences with the usual suave and hey, those darn fine glasses.
5) Hard Target
The one thing that die-hard JCVD fans would never eschew from would be a re- run of this John Woo classic, a high voltage wham-bam Van Damme flick and one where our man sported the once-famous mullet.
That blue denim shirt, the elegant gait, his understated style, and those melancholic eyes- girls, chickitas do you remember the time- Van Damme butt-kicked incessantly in this rasp, super agro flick, that put New Orleans in a different light.
Above all, this highly watchable film, also starred Yancy Buttler and Arnold Vosloo in key roles.
Not to forget the high-octane bike chase sequence and multiple dosages of the quintessential spin-kick; Van Damme was, as the movie’s cover said- don’t hurt what you can’t kill- unputdownable!