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Born Jean-Claude Camille Francois Van Vaerenbergh in Brussels, Belgium who began training as a martial artist at the age of 12 and ended his official fight career with a record of 18-1 when he was 20. He moved to Los Angeles soon after to pursue an acting career and was cast in minor roles until his breakout success with Bloodsport, a low-budget martial arts film that became a major box office hit. His projects began to steadily increase in budget and success, with Double Impact and Universal Soldier leading to his most financially successful title to date, Timecop. This period was the high-water mark for Van Damme's action career as each project following the critically panned Street Fighter slumped lower and lower until the Universal Soldier sequel when all subsequent movies went straight to video. In 2008 Van Damme saw a resurgence in popularity after his performance in the comedy drama JCVD was widely praised by critics.
Fighting CareerThough Van Damme’s fighting ability was often questioned after he became a movie star, he was actually a fairly good kickboxer in the mid-70s. He initially began training in shotokan karate when he was ten years old and managed to earn a black belt. After he finished studying karate, he started to focus his attention on kickboxing and began to fight in a variety of tournaments/organizations under his birth name of Van Varenberg. He allegedly had an 18-2 record before ending his fighting career in favor of a career in acting.
Jean-Claude Van Damme is currently working on a third installment in the Universal Soldier franchise. This new film is due out in 2009 and entitled, Universal Soldiers: The Next Generation. It is rumored that Dolph Lundgren will return as Andrew Scott as well. He is also working on film called The Eagle Path, which he is writing, directing, and starring in.
- He was actually the original actor hired to play the Predator in the film of the same name, but he was fired for being “hard to work with”.
- He was the original inspiration for Mortal Kombat character Johnny Cage. This is mainly due to Van Damme’s ability to do the splits and punch people in the nuts.
- He was considered for the role of Wolverine in the original X-Men movie, but didn’t end up getting the role.
- The physique of Metal Gear protagonist, Solid Snake, was inspired by the physique of Jean-Claude Van Damme.
- He got his ass kicked by his former bodyguard, Chuck Zito, after bad-mouthing him.
- He studied ballet for five years and called it a very difficult sport/workout.
- He claims that he learned to speak English by watching The Flintstones.
- Seanbaby claims that the greatest game ever would consist of Dead Rising - Sucky Parts Jean-Claude Van Damme.
- He was sued for gouging out the eye of an extra during the filming of Cyborg.
- He speaks French, English, German, and Spanish...but not particularly well.
- He has starred in five movies with another Jean-Claude Van Damme (dual roles). Those movies are Double Impact, Timecop, Maximum Risk, Replicant and The Order in which he plays two different characters in different eras.
- He was personally offered a lead role in the movie " The Expendables" by director Sylvestor Stallone himself. JCVD turned the role citing saying he "doesn't want his career going down that route."