Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The Truth About What Happened To Jean Claude Van Damme

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In the 1980s and 1990s, the charismatic and photogenic "Muscles from Brussels" became

an international movie starand then, just as fast and unlikely as his rise, came

the fall.

Here's how the man born Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg has occupied himself

in recent years.

Two of the biggest hits of Van Dammes early career were Universal Soldier, a 1992 sci-fi

action thriller where he played a deceased veteran resurrected as a technologically enhanced

super-soldier, and 1989s Kickboxer, where he playeda kickboxer.

Both films wound up spawning full-on franchises, and while Van Damme himself wasnt always

involved, he did eventually return to the roles that made him famous.

In 1999, Van Damme reunited with Dolph Lundgren, along with Michael Jai White and pro wrestler

Bill Goldberg, for the appropriately named Universal Soldier: The Return.

A decade later, he returned again for 2009s Universal Soldier: Regeneration and while

that movie ignored the previous film entirely, it led to Lundgren and Van Damme closing out

the franchise with Day of Reckoning in 2012.

As for Kickboxer, that franchise became a straight-to-video juggernaut with five installments

by 1995.

Unfortunately for Van Damme fans (or Fan Dammes), those movies opted to replace him with leading

men like Step By Steps Sasha Mitchell and future Iron Chef America star Mark Dacoscas.

After 20 years, however, the franchise returned for 2016s Kickboxer: Vengeance, and Van

Damme reappeared in the series, and even fought Drax the Destroyer! and it seems to have

been a good enough time that he returned for the seventh installment, Kickboxer: Retaliation.

In that one, JCVD fights Mike Tyson.

No, really.

You mention Mongo one more time and Ill smash your face.


Those werent his only brushes with franchises, though.

In 2010, he was personally offered a role in The Expendables by Sylvester Stallone,

but turned it down.

According to an interview with Van Damme, it was because of commitments to another movie,

but Stallone claimed it was because he objected to a scene where his character would lose

a fight against Jet Li.

Fortunately, there werent any hard feelings, and Stallone found a place for Van Damme in

The Expendables 2.

Unless you count the usual blood and bruises that result from on-screen fistfights, Van

Damme has rarely appeared onscreen with his face obscured by makeup.

There was, however, a time that he almost took on one of the most costume-heavy roles

in Hollywood when he was cast as the title monster in The Predator.

Unfortunately for the famously athletic actor, the heavy suit restricted his movement to

the point of making a thrilling martial arts battle against Arnold Schwarzenegger impossible.

At the time of his departure, the Predator looked very different from its final version,

and Van Damme would later explain that while he was in thevery dangerous type of outfit,”

he wasmoving everything with cables.”

It was far too limited to make any good use of his skills, so he walked after only two

days of production, leaving Arnold to duke it out with a redesigned alien who did significantly

less kickboxing than called for in the original draft.

Van Damme is famously nicknamed "The Muscles from Brussels," as he was indeed a ripped

guy born in the capital city of Belgium.

In 2012, Brussels paid tribute to one of its favorite sons with a life-sized bronze statue,

forever posed in a fight-ready stance in front of the Westland Shopping Center.

A visibly touched Van Damme unveiled the statue himself at a special ceremony, saying the

monument ...

"represented the dream of a Brussels kid"

and hoping it could serve as a source of inspiration for troubled youth.

If youve seen Hard Target, you already know JCVD hates snakes.

Dogs, though?

The dude loves dogs.

In 2016, Van Damme appeared at a fundraiser for Animals Australia, encouraging people

to adopt retired racing dogs after greyhound racing was banned in New South Wales.

He's even worked on behalf of endangered species, meeting with Australia's Environment Minister

to help procure funding for relocating endangered rhinos, gorillas, and elephants to Australia.

On top of those efforts, hes trying to put together a foundation of wealthy individuals

to create sanctuaries for those animals.

Believe it or not, Van Damme didnt hit the peak of his popularity with movies like


Instead, the most notable recent moment in his career came in the form of a commercial

for Volvo that went viral thanks to Van Dammes signature move.

One of the most iconic images of JCVDs career came in Timecop, when he leapt on a

counter while doing the splits to avoid an untimely demise.

He did the same thing in the ad except this time, the 53 year-old performer did them while

balanced atop two giant trucksdriving backward.

More than 86 million people have watched that amazing clip which is more than the number

of people who ever bought tickets to any single film in his considerable career.

Jean-Claude's daughter Bianca Van Damme is certainly not someone you would want to mess

with shes been studying martial arts for over 20 years, and once said she wanted to

be a role model for kids by showing them they cankick ass in a nice, feminine way."

Growing up, she hated martial arts, and was forced into it at the age of seven by her

mother, bodybuilder Gladys Portugues, in order to help with self-discipline.

Her interests at the time lay more on the side of speed-skating and ballet one of her

fathers passions as well but an injury forced her into another path.

She embraced martial arts and worked alongside her father in several movies.

In 1992, the producers of Universal Soldier approached the Midway company with the hopes

of making a game based on the movie.

Midway wasnt interested, but they did want to work with the films star, Jean-Claude

Van Damme, and worked out a deal with him to make a game that would be something more

along the lines of Kickboxer or Bloodsport.

Unfortunately, the deal fell through, and they never finished working on that project.

Instead, that idea eventually lead to Mortal Kombat complete with a character based on

Van Damme in the form of Johnny Cage.

Along with sharing a few of their initials, Cage was also a martial arts movie star.

Obviously, the licensing deal fell through and the character was modeled off another

actor, leaving Johnny Cage more of an homage to the Muscles from Brussels than a direct


Still, knowing what couldve been makes us wish that we had gotten a bloody, ultra-violent

game about the genuine articleor at least seen Van Damme playing Cage in the Mortal

Kombat movie.

He probably wouldve been a better fit for that role than the fighting game character

he did take on for the screen, the mega-patriotic Colonel Guile in Street Fighter.

Van Damme has faced plenty of villains onscreen, but his toughest battle in real life was against


He has admitted to having a 10-gram-per-day habit, which cost him around $10,000 a week.

By 1999, he had racked up a DUI charge, and while he tried rehab, he left after only seven


A few years later, he relapsed, and found himself in a pretty dark period of his career.

From 1999 to 2008, Van Damme starred in 14 films, and even his most die-hard fans would

have trouble remembering most of them.

The string of generic direct-to-video action flicks and Turkish heist movies earned him

the nicknameJean-Claude Van Desperate,” but they also paved the way for 2008s JCVD.

That movie, in which he played a version of himself who was caught up in a hostage crisis

and confronted the emotional and somewhat depressing aspects of his life as a has-been

action star was well received.

Along with kicking his cocaine habit, it helped to bring him back to mainstream Hollywood.

Van Dammes substance abuse problem has been linked with his bipolar disorder.

His condition went undiagnosed for years before finally being identified as Rapid Cycling

Bipolar Disorder, which is often seen in people who struggle with addiction.

Before being medicated, he would try to literally fight through the dark times by focusing on

training, saying that when he didnt hit the gym, quote, "nothing could make [him]


The drugs were another attempt at happiness, but obviously was not the solution to his


Eventually, his extensive cocaine use even left him feeling suicidal.

The good news is that he was able to battle through his intense depression, and has since

been very open about his disorder, both in interviews and in some gut-wrenching scenes

in JCVD.

Over the past few years, hes been able to move forward, and deal with his condition

in a far less self-destructive fashion.

While he rose to meteoric fame in Hollywood with a starring role in Bloodsport, Van Damme

didnt just get off the bus and walk right onto a movie set.

Long before he broke into the film industry, he was an active fighter, with a record of

18 wins and one loss in kickboxing winning every single contest by knockout.

In semi- and light-contact battles, his record stands at 44 and 4, so his skills in the ring

are pretty well known.

Many have attributed his flowing fighting style and graceful movement to his years of

training in a different physical activity: ballet, which he studied for five years while

also earning his black belt in karate.

That said, at least one person thinks that Van Damme shouldve stuck to the dance floor,

and while thats an easy opinion to dismiss, this one comes from someone who really ought

to know: Frank Dux.

If that name sounds familiar, it should.

Dux was the guy Van Damme played in Bloodsport, whose alleged real-life battles in the kumite

were dramatized for the film.

Dukes even worked as a fight choreographer on the movie, and according to him, Van Damme

quite simply cant fight.

In 1997, the Las Vegas sun reported that Dux was suing Van Damme for $50,000, which was

later upped to 1.5 million, claiming that the star never paid him for his work as a

co-writer on the 1996 film The Quest.

During the suit, he took a dig at Van Dammes fighting abilities, claiming that when he

was training him for Bloodsport, Van Damme proved to be unable to perform even simple


Oh, and as for his legitimate kickboxing career with all those knockouts?

According to Dux, "Van Dammelied to the public that he was a martial arts champion.”

Unfortunately for Dux, a jury cleared Van Damme, saying that the star didnt owe anyone


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