“The Muscles from Brussels.” Does he still go by that tagline? I don’t know. I do know that the 90s were good to Jean-Claude Van Damme. He started in some low budget stuff, got to headline a few big theatrical releases and now kind of does direct-to-DVD movies. I mean, at one point he was in a movie teamed up with Rob Schneider to stop terrorists who had made exploding blue jeans. But you know what? He does have a certain charm. A certain charisma. I’d take him over Steven Seagal any day. Here are some of his finest moments on film. Either good action, ridiculous moves, or pure comedy.
Four Minutes of Solid Action in Universal Soldier: Regeneration
This sequel is actually really good. Probably better than the original.
Turns Ron Silver into a CG Puddle
The end of Timecop cracks me up. He beats the bad guy with one of his least impressive kicks ever.
Escapes a Massive Explosion Thanks to Coca-Cola
When the Coliseum is destroyed, Van Damme first begins to outrun an explosion and then some really strange product placement appears to save his life. Who knew that ancient Roman structures were so brittle compared to the modern-day Coke vending machine? More ancient structures should have Coke machines in them. Since they’re wired for electricity already.
Punches Out a Snake in Hard Target
Glorious. There’s no context that can make this make any more sense. He just knocks out a rattlesnake, removes its rattle and sets a trap for the bad guys.
Performs a Dangerous Leg Split for a Volvo Ad
In order to show how precise a driving system is for trucks, Van Damme agreed to do his signature split between two trucks reversing together at high speeds. It’s a fantastic stunt. There are behind-the-scenes documentaries online that show the planning it took but the important thing to know is that it’s real. No CG or wires.
Dances then Dance Fights in Kickboxer
When you don’t have much money for a movie, you just let the star carry it. That’s what Van Damme does here with his unique dancing which turns into fighting basically because he’s so good at dancing that it makes other men jealous.
His Incredible Soul-Baring Monologue in JCVD
Van Damme plays a lightly fictionalized version of himself in the movie JCVD where he ends up in a bank that’s held up by robbers. And he isn’t the hero that he is in the movies. The highlight is a nearly 7-minute monologue where Van Damme speaks directly to the camera and reveals all his frustrations and disappointments that he has with himself. It’s really impressive and shows that he should have taken more dramatic roles along the way.
Delivers Epic Speech about Nothing
Street Fighter is a notoriously bad movie, plagued with all sorts of problems. And Van Damme was coked up out of his mind at this point. The writing in this scene does him no favors but damn if it doesn’t make me laugh. Probably not what was intended but I love this speech that the not-very-American Guile delivers to the troops.