How are these legends still able to work out, considering how much their backs must hurt from carrying our childhoods?
This athletically built, dark-haired American actor/screenwriter/director may never be mentioned by old-school film critics in the same breath as, say, Richard Burton or Alec Guinness; however, movie fans worldwide have been flocking to see Stallone’s films for over 30 years, making “Sly” one of Hollywood’s biggest-ever box office draws.
Sylvester Stallone was born on July 6, 1946, in New York’s gritty Hell’s Kitchen, to Jackie Stallone (née Labofish), an astrologer, and Frank Stallone, a beautician and hairdresser. His father was an Italian immigrant, and his mother’s heritage is half French (from Brittany) and half German. The young Stallone attended the American College of Switzerland and the University of Miami, eventually obtaining a B.A. degree. Initially, he struggled in small parts in films such as the soft-core The Party at Kitty and Stud’s (1970), the thriller Klute (1971) and the comedy Bananas (1971). He got a crucial career break alongside fellow young actor Henry Winkler, sharing lead billing in the effectively written teen gang film The Lords of Flatbush (1974).
Further film and television roles followed, most of them in uninspiring productions except for the opportunity to play a megalomaniac, bloodthirsty race driver named “Machine Gun Joe Viterbo” in the Roger Corman-produced Death Race 2000 (1975). However, Stallone was also keen to be recognized as a screenwriter, not just an actor, and, inspired by the 1975 Muhammad Ali-Chuck Wepner fight in Cleveland, Stallone wrote a film script about a nobody fighter given the “million to one opportunity” to challenge for the heavyweight title. Rocky (1976) became the stuff of cinematic legends, scoring ten Academy Award nominations, winning the Best Picture Award of 1976 and triggering one of the most financially successful movie series in history! Whilst full credit is wholly deserved by Stallone, he was duly supported by tremendous acting from fellow cast members Talia Shire, Burgess Meredith and Burt Young, and director John G. Avildsen gave the film an emotive, earthy appeal from start to finish. Stallone had truly arrived on his terms, and offers poured in from various studios eager to secure Hollywood’s hottest new star.
Stallone followed Rocky (1976) with F.I.S.T. (1978), loosely based on the life of Teamsters boss “Jimmy Hoffa”, and Paradise Alley (1978) before pulling on the boxing gloves again to resurrect Rocky Balboa in the sequel Rocky II (1979). The second outing for the “Italian Stallion” wasn’t as powerful or successful as the first “Rocky”, however, it still produced strong box office. Subsequent films Nighthawks (1981) and Victory (1981) failed to ignite with audiences, so Stallone was once again lured back to familiar territory with Rocky III (1982) and a fearsome opponent in “Clubber Lang” played by muscular ex-bodyguard Mr. T. The third “Rocky” installment far outperformed the first sequel in box office takings, but Stallone retired his prizefighter for a couple of years as another series was about to commence for the busy actor.
The character of Green Beret “John Rambo” was the creation of Canadian-born writer David Morrell, and his novel was adapted to the screen with Stallone in the lead role in First Blood (1982), also starring Richard Crenna and Brian Dennehy. The movie was a surprise hit that polarized audiences because of its commentary about the Vietnam war, which was still relatively fresh in the American public’s psyche. Political viewpoints aside, the film was a worldwide smash, and a sequel soon followed with Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), which drew even stronger criticism from several quarters owing to the film’s plotline about American MIAs allegedly being held in Vietnam. But they say there is no such thing as bad publicity, and “John Rambo’s” second adventure was a major money spinner for Stallone and cemented him as one of the top male stars of the 1980s. Riding a wave of amazing popularity, Stallone called on old sparring partner Rocky Balboa to climb back into the ring to defend American pride against a Soviet threat in the form of a towering Russian boxer named “Ivan Drago” played by curt Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV (1985). The fourth outing was somewhat controversial with “Rocky” fans, as violence levels seemed excessive compared to previous “Rocky” films, especially with the savage beating suffered by Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weathers, at the hands of the unstoppable “Siberian Express”.
Stallone continued forward with a slew of macho character-themed films that met with a mixed reception from his fans. Cobra (1986) was a clumsy mess, Over the Top (1987) was equally mediocre, Rambo III (1988) saw Rambo take on the Russians in Afghanistan, and cop buddy film Tango & Cash (1989) just did not quite hit the mark, although it did feature a top-notch cast and there was chemistry between Stallone and co-star Kurt Russell.
Philadelphia’s favorite mythical boxer moved out of the shadows for his fifth screen outing in Rocky V (1990) tackling Tommy “Machine” Gunn played by real-life heavyweight fighter Tommy Morrison, the great-nephew of screen legend John Wayne. Sly quickly followed with the lukewarm comedy Oscar (1991), the painfully unfunny Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992), the futuristic action film Demolition Man (1993), and the comic book-inspired Judge Dredd (1995). Interestingly, Stallone then took a departure from the gung-ho steely characters he had been portraying to stack on a few extra pounds and tackle a more dramatically challenging role in the intriguing Cop Land (1997), also starring Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta. It isn’t a classic of the genre, but Cop Land (1997) certainly surprised many critics with Stallone’s understated performance. Stallone then lent his vocal talents to the animated adventure story Antz (1998), reprised the role made famous by Michael Caine in a terrible remake of Get Carter (2000), climbed back into a race car for Driven (2001), and guest-starred as the “Toymaker” in the third chapter of the immensely popular “Spy Kids” film series, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003). Showing that age had not wearied his two most popular series, Stallone has most recently brought back never-say-die boxer Rocky Balboa to star in, well, what else but Rocky Balboa (2006), and Vietnam veteran Rambo (2008) will reappear after a 20-year hiatus to once again right wrongs in the jungles of Thailand.
Love him or loathe him, Sylvester Stallone has built an enviable and highly respected career in Hollywood, plus, he has considerably influenced modern popular culture through several of his iconic film characters.
With an almost unpronounceable surname and a thick Austrian accent, who would have ever believed that a brash, quick talking bodybuilder from a small European village would become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, marry into the prestigious Kennedy family, amass a fortune via shrewd investments and one day be the Governor of California!?
The amazing story of megastar Arnold Schwarzenegger is a true “rags to riches” tale of a penniless immigrant making it in the land of opportunity, the United States of America. Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger was born July 30, 1947, in the town of Thal, Styria, Austria, to Aurelia Schwarzenegger (born Jadrny) and Gustav Schwarzenegger, the local police chief. From a young age, he took a keen interest in physical fitness and bodybuilding, going on to compete in several minor contests in Europe. However, it was when he emigrated to the United States in 1968 at the tender age of 21 that his star began to rise.
Up until the early 1970s, bodybuilding had been viewed as a rather oddball sport, or even a mis-understood “freak show” by the general public, however two entrepreneurial Canadian brothers Ben Weider and Joe Weider set about broadening the appeal of “pumping iron” and getting the sport respect, and what better poster boy could they have to lead the charge, then the incredible “Austrian Oak”, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Over roughly the next decade, beginning in 1970, Schwarzenegger dominated the sport of competitive bodybuilding winning five Mr. Universe titles and seven Mr. Olympia titles and, with it, he made himself a major sports icon, he generated a new international audience for bodybuilding, gym memberships worldwide swelled by the tens of thousands and the Weider sports business empire flourished beyond belief and reached out to all corners of the globe. However, Schwarzenegger’s horizons were bigger than just the landscape of bodybuilding and he debuted on screen as “Arnold Strong” in the low budget Hercules in New York (1970), then director Bob Rafelson cast Arnold in Stay Hungry (1976) alongside Jeff Bridges and Sally Field, for which Arnold won a Golden Globe Award for “Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture”. The mesmerizing Pumping Iron (1977) covering the 1975 Mr Olympia contest in South Africa has since gone on to become one of the key sports documentaries of the 20th century, plus Arnold landed other acting roles in the comedy The Villain (1979) opposite Kirk Douglas, and he portrayed Mickey Hargitay in the well- received TV movie The Jayne Mansfield Story (1980).
What Arnold really needed was a super hero / warrior style role in a lavish production that utilized his chiseled physique, and gave him room to show off his growing acting talents and quirky humor. Conan the Barbarian (1982) was just that role. Inspired by the Robert E. Howard short stories of the “Hyborean Age” and directed by gung ho director John Milius, and with a largely unknown cast, save Max von Sydow and James Earl Jones, “Conan” was a smash hit worldwide and an inferior, although still enjoyable sequel titled Conan the Destroyer (1984) quickly followed. If “Conan” was the kick start to Arnold’s movie career, then his next role was to put the pedal to the floor and accelerate his star status into overdrive. Director James Cameron had until that time only previously directed one earlier feature film titled Piranha II: The Spawning (1981), which stank of rotten fish from start to finish. However, Cameron had penned a fast paced, science fiction themed film script that called for an actor to play an unstoppable, ruthless predator – The Terminator (1984). Made on a relatively modest budget, the high voltage action / science fiction thriller The Terminator (1984) was incredibly successful worldwide, and began one of the most profitable film franchises in history.
The dead pan phrase “I’ll be back” quickly became part of popular culture across the globe. Schwarzenegger was in vogue with action movie fans, and the next few years were to see Arnold reap box office gold in roles portraying tough, no-nonsense individuals who used their fists, guns and witty one-liners to get the job done. The testosterone laden Commando (1985), Raw Deal (1986), Predator (1987), The Running Man (1987) and Red Heat (1988) were all box office hits and Arnold could seemingly could no wrong when it came to picking winning scripts. The tongue-in-cheek comedy Twins (1988) with co-star Danny DeVito was a smash and won Arnold new fans who saw a more comedic side to the muscle- bound actor once described by Australian author / TV host Clive James as “a condom stuffed with walnuts”.
The spectacular Total Recall (1990) and “feel good” Kindergarten Cop (1990) were both solid box office performers for Arnold, plus he was about to return to familiar territory with director James Cameron in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). The second time around for the futuristic robot, the production budget had grown from the initial film’s $6.5 million to an alleged $100 million for the sequel, and it clearly showed as the stunning sequel bristled with amazing special effects, bone-crunching chases & stunt sequences, plus state of the art computer-generated imagery. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) was arguably the zenith of Arnold’s film career to date and he was voted “International Star of the Decade” by the National Association of Theatre Owners.
Remarkably, his next film Last Action Hero (1993) brought Arnold back to Earth with a hard thud as the self-satirizing, but confusing plot line of a young boy entering into a mythical Hollywood action film confused movie fans even more and they stayed away in droves making the film an initial financial disaster. Arnold turned back to good friend, director James Cameron and the chemistry was definitely still there as the “James Bond” style spy thriller True Lies (1994) co-starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Arnold was the surprise hit of 1994! Following the broad audience appeal of True Lies (1994), Schwarzenegger decided to lean towards more family-themed entertainment with Junior (1994) and Jingle All the Way (1996), but he still found time to satisfy his hard-core fan base with Eraser (1996), as the chilling “Mr. Freeze” in Batman & Robin (1997) and battling dark forces in the supernatural action of End of Days (1999). The science fiction / conspiracy tale The 6th Day (2000) played to only mediocre fan interest, and Collateral Damage (2002) had its theatrical release held over for nearly a year after the tragic events of Sept 11th 2001, but it still only received a lukewarm reception.
It was time again to resurrect Arnold’s most successful franchise and, in 2003, Schwarzenegger pulled on the biker leathers for the third time for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003). Unfortunately, directorial duties passed from James Cameron to Jonathan Mostow and the deletion of the character of “Sarah Connor” aka Linda Hamilton and a change in the actor playing “John Connor” – Nick Stahl took over from Edward Furlong – making the third entry in the “Terminator” series the weakest to date.
Schwarzenegger married TV journalist Maria Shriver in April, 1986 and the couple have four children.
In October of 2003 Schwarzenegger, running as a Republican, was elected Governor of California in a special recall election of then governor Gray Davis. The “Governator,” as Schwarzenegger came to be called, held the office until 2011. Upon leaving the Governor’s mansion it was revealed that he had fathered a child with the family’s live-in maid and Shriver filed for divorce.
Schwarzenegger contributed cameo roles to The Rundown (2003), Around the World in 80 Days (2004) and The Kid & I (2005). Recently, he starred in The Expendables 2 (2012), The Last Stand (2013), Escape Plan (2013), The Expendables 3 (2014), and Terminator Genisys (2015).
In August 2016, his filming of action-comedy Why We’re Killing Gunther was temporarily interrupted by bank robbers near the filming location in Surrey, British Columbia. He was announced to star and produce in a film about the ruins of Sanxingdui called The Guest of Sanxingdui as an ambassador.
On February 6, 2018, Amazon Studios announced they were working with Schwarzenegger to develop a new series entitled Outrider in which he will star and executive produce. The western-drama set in the Oklahoma Indian Territory in the late 19th century will follow a deputy (portrayed by Schwarzenegger) who is tasked with apprehending a legendary outlaw in the wilderness, but is forced to partner with a ruthless Federal Marshal to make sure justice is properly served. The series will also mark as Schwarzenegger’s first major scripted TV role.
Schwarzenegger returned to the Terminator franchise with Terminator: Dark Fate, which was released on November 1, 2019. It was produced by the series’ co-creator James Cameron, who directed him previously in the first two films in the series and in True Lies. It was shot in Almería, Hungary and the US.
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Van Damme was born Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Brussels, Belgium, to Eliana and Eugène Van Varenberg, an accountant. “The Muscles from Brussels” started martial arts at the age of eleven. His father introduced him to martial arts when he saw his son was physically weak. At the age of 12, Van Damme began his martial arts training at Centre National De Karate (National Center of Karate) under the guidance of Master Claude Goetz in Ixelles, Belgium. Van Damme trained for 4 years and earned a spot on the Belgium Karate Team. He won the European professional karate association’s middleweight championship as a teenager, and also beat the 2nd best karate fighter in the world. His goal was to be number one but got sidetracked when he left his hometown of Brussels. In 1976 at the age of sixteen, Jean-Claude started his Martial Arts fight career.
Over the next 6-years, he competed in both full-contact and semi-contact matches. He debuted under his birth name of Jean Claude Van Varenberg. In his first match, Jean-Claude was staggered by a round-house kick thrown by fellow countryman, Toon Van Oostrum in Brussels, Belgium. Van Damme was badly stunned, but came back to knockout Van Oostrum moments later. In 1977, at the WAKO Open International in Antwerp, Belgium, Jean-Claude lost a decision to fellow team mate Patrick Teugels in a semi-contact match. At the 1978 Challenge De Espoirs Karate Tournament (1st Trials),Jean-Claude placed 2nd in the semi-contact division. He defeated twenty-five opponents during the week long tournament, but lost in the finals to Angelo Spataro from the Naha Club. Later in 1978, Jean-Claude lost a 3-round match for the Belgium Lightweight Championship (semi-contact) to his fellow team-mate to Patrick Teugels.
In 1979, Jean-Claude traveled to the United States of America, to Tampa, Florida. In his first and only match against a United States opponent, Van Damme faced ‘Sherman ‘Big Train’Bergman’, a kick-boxer from Miami Beach, Florida. For the first and only time in his career, Jean-Claude was knocked to the canvas after absorbing a powerful left hook from Bergman. However, Jean-Claude climbed off the canvas and with a perfectly timed ax-kick, knocked Bergman out in 56 seconds of the first round. Jean-Claude was a member of the Belgium team which competed on December 26, 1979 at the La Coupe Fancois Persoons Karate Tournament which was sanctioned by the Federation bruxelloise de Karate. Van Damme’s final match victory enabled his team to win the European Team Karate Championship. In Full-Contact karate, Jean-Claude knocked out England’s Micheal Heming in 46 seconds of the first round. In 1980, Van Damme knocked out France’s Georges Verlugels in 2 rounds of a match fought under kick-boxing rules. Jean-Claude wanted to defeat his rival Patrick Teugels. At the Forest Nationals in Brussels, on March 8, 1980, Jean-Claude knocked Teugels down and Teugels suffered a nose injury and was unable to continue. Jean-Claude was awarded a first round victory.
Jean-Claude retired from martial arts in 1982, following a knockout over Nedjad Gharbi in Brussels,Belgium. Jean-Claude posted a 18-1 (18 knockouts) Kickboxing record, and a Semi-Contact record of 41-4. He came to Hong Kong at the age of 19 for the first time and felt insured to do action movies in Hong Kong. In 1981 Van Damme moved to Los Angeles. He took English classes while working as carpet layer, pizza delivery man, limo driver, and thanks to Chuck Norris he got a job as a bouncer at a club. Norris gave Van Damme a small role in the movie Missing in Action (1984), but it wasn’t good enough to get anybody’s attention. Then in 1984 he got a role as a villain named Ivan in the low-budget movie No Retreat, No Surrender (1986). Then one day, while walking on the streets, Jean-Claude spotted a producer for Cannon Pictures, and showed some of his martial arts abilities which led to a role in Bloodsport (1988). But the movie, filmed in Hong Kong, was so bad when it was completed, it was shelved for almost two years. It might have never been released if Van Damme did not help them to recut the film and begged producers to release it. They finally released the film, first in Malaysia and France and then into the U.S. Shot on a meager 1.5 million dollar budget, it became a U.S box-office hit in the spring of 1988. It made about 30 million worldwide and audiences supported this film for its new sensational action star Jean-Claude Van Damme.
His martial arts assets, highlighted by his ability to deliver a kick to an opponent’s head during a leaping 360-degree turn, and his good looks led to starring roles in higher budgeted movies like Cyborg (1989), Lionheart (1990), Double Impact (1991) and Universal Soldier (1992). In 1994, he scored with his big breakthrough $100 million worldwide hit Timecop (1994). But in the meantime, his personal life was coming apart. A divorce, followed by a new marriage, followed by another divorce. It began to show up in his career when his projects began to tank at the box office – The Quest (1996), which he directed; Maximum Risk (1996) and Double Team (1997). The three films made less than $50 million combined. In 1999 he remarried his ex-wife Gladys Portugues and restarted his lost career to attain new goals. With help from his family he faced his problems and made movies like Replicant (2001), Derailed (2002), and In Hell (2003) which did averagely in box office terms, but he tried to give his fans the best, his acting in those movies got better, more emotional and each movie was basically in different action tones.
His 2004 film was Wake of Death, an action film directed by Philippe Martinez. Ringo Lam was the original director, but he left the project after a few weeks of filming in Canada. It co-stars Simon Yam, Valerie Tian, Tony Schiena, etc. Van Damme stars as a gangster who decides to become legit to spend more time with his wife. However, it proves to be a fatal mistake. Kim’s father, Sun Quan (Yam), is a Chinese Triad. Once Sun Quan discovers where his daughter is, he kills Cynthia, her parents, and many of the workers in the restaurant at which they’re dining without provocation. However, Sun Quan is not alone in his attempts to avenge his wife, as a French mobster has a vendetta against him. He played himself in the French film Narco (2005), he appears as an imagined version of himself, when one character who idolizes him as the ultimate ‘Karate man’, imagines a conversation where he acts as that character’s conscience.
He followed it with Second in Command (2006), where he plays Commander Samuel “Sam” Keenan, a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL, is sent to the Eastern European nation of Moldavia to become the new security attaché at the U.S. Embassy.
He reunited with Lettich for The Hard Corps (2006) co-starring Raz Adoti, Vivica A. Fox, and Peter Bryant. Van Damme plays Phillip Sauvage an American soldier suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Through his former commanding officer, he gets to work as a bodyguard for former World Heavyweight boxing champion and now successful businessman, where his adventure begins.
The Exam (2007), is a Turkish comedy-drama film directed by Ömer Faruk Sorak, about five Turkish high school students preparing to sit for the university entry exam, who enlist the services of a professional thief, played by Van Damme, to steal the papers.
Until Death (2007), also with Fellows. Van Damme plays a corrupt police detective addicted to heroin whom everybody hates at the workplace. After being shot in a gunfight he falls into a coma. Months later he recovers and decides to use his second chance at life.
Van Damme returned to the mainstream with the limited theatrical release of the 2008 film JCVD, which received positive reviews. Time Magazine named Van Damme’s performance in the film the second best of the year (after Heath Ledger’s The Joker in The Dark Knight), having previously stated that Van Damme “deserves not a black belt, but an Oscar.”
In The Shepherd: Border Patrol (2008), he plays a border patrol agent up against a highly dangerous drug smuggling operation.
He then reprised his role as Luc Deveraux alongside Dolph Lundgren in the 2009 film Universal Soldier: Regeneration, directed by John Hyams (son of Peter Hyams). The film was released theatrically in the Middle East and Southeast Asia and directly to video in the United States and other parts of the world. Since its release, the film has received better than average reviews for a straight-to-DVD franchise sequel.
In 2010, Van Damme directed himself in the barely released Full Love.
In 2011, Van Damme voiced the Master Croc in the computer animation film Kung Fu Panda 2, alongside Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, Gary Oldman, Michelle Yeoh, Victor Garber, and many more. In the film, Po and the Furious Five (heroes of the previous film) battle an evil peacock named Lord Shen, who has a powerful weapon that he plans to conquer China with. They eventually meet his character who helps them in their quest.
That same year, he played in Assassination Games, alongside Scott Adkins. The film is about an assassin named Flint (Adkins) who, after a drug dealer puts his wife in a coma, retires from his trade. When a contract is put out on the drug dealer, Flint comes out of retirement, only to find that another assassin, Brazil (Van Damme), is also on the job due to the money. The two assassins reluctantly partner in order to combat corrupt Interpol agents and gangsters.
Also in 2011, he co-starred in the French comedy Beur sur la ville, alongside Issa Doumbia, Steve Tran, Sandrine Kiberlain, and many more.
He starred in his own reality TV show Behind Closed Doors (2011). The show showcases his family life, his personal troubles, and an upcoming fight. Since 2009, Van Damme has been planning to make a comeback to fight former boxing Olympic gold-medalist Somluck Kamsing. The fight was a focal point in his ITV reality show Behind Closed Doors. The fight has been repeatedly postponed, with many critics doubting it will occur, especially due to the difficulty of booking the venue. December 2012, Van Damme was seen as part of Kam Sing’s ring crew when Kam Sing fought against Jomhod Kiatadisak.
The first release he was involved with in 2012 was a supporting role in a Russian comedy film named Rzhevsky Versus Napoleon.
He worked with John Hymans again on Dragon Eyes (2012), then appeared in commercials for Coors Light beer, showing him on a snow-covered mountain wearing a sleeveless denim jacket, and for the washing powder Dash.
He starred as the main villain Jean Vilain in The Expendables 2 against Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The story of the second installment in The Expendables film series follows the mercenary group known as “the Expendables” as they undertake a seemingly simple mission which evolves into a quest for revenge against rival mercenary Jean Vilain (Van Damme), who murdered one of their own and threatens the world with a deadly weapon. The film was a success. it grossed over $310 million worldwide.
Also in 2012, he starred alongside Scott Adkins, and Dolph Lundgren in Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning. In the film, a young former military man named John (Adkins) awakens from a coma and finds out that his wife and daughter were murdered in a home invasion, and goes on a personal vendetta against the man behind the incident which revealed to be Luc Deveraux (Van Damme), the nefarious Universal Soldier from the first two films who now became a powerful terrorist military leader.
Six Bullets (2012) is an action film where he stars. It is directed by Ernie Barbarash and co-stars Joe Flanigan, Anna-Louise Plowman, and Charlotte Beaumont. Veteran mercenary Samson Gaul (Van Damme) is retired from combat when his actions resulted in the deaths of helpless victims, but now he’s the last hope for a desperate father. Mixed martial artist, Andrew Fayden (Flanigan) knows how to fight, but alone he’s unprepared to navigate the corrupt streets of a foreign city to find his kidnapped daughter. Together, these two try to stop a network of criminals that prey upon the innocent. U.F.O. (2012) is a British science fiction film about an alien invasion where he had a supporting role. It was written and directed by independent British filmmaker Dominic Burns, and co-stars Bianca Bree, Sean Brosnan and Simon Phillips.
On 21 October 2012, Van Damme was honored with a life-size statue of himself in his hometown of Brussels. He told reporters during the unveiling, “Belgium is paying me back something, but really it’s to pay back to the dream. So when people come by here, it is not Jean-Claude van Damme but it’s a guy from the street who believed in something. I want the statue to represent that”.
Welcome to the Jungle, is a 2013 American comedy film where he co-starred with Adam Brody, Megan Boone, Rob Huebel, Kristen Schaal and Dennis Haysbert.
In 2013, he played the main villain in Enemies Closer, an American action thriller film directed and photographed by Peter Hyams, and starring Tom Everett Scott and Orlando Jones. It is Hyams’ third directorial collaboration with Van Damme, following 1994’s Timecop and 1995’s Sudden Death.
On 13 November 2013, Volvo Trucks released an advertisement on YouTube that shows Van Damme doing the splits while perched with each of his feet on the outer rearview mirrors of one semi-trailer truck and one box truck moving backwards, which Van Damme describes in the commercial as “the most epic of splits”. The video quickly went viral around the web, receiving more than 11 million views in three days, 35 million in the first week. It was dubbed as the epic split.
Swelter is a 2014 American action film where he plays one of the leads. It stars Lennie James, and co-stars Grant Bowler, Josh Henderson, and Alfred Molina. James plays a sheriff in a small town who has a dark past that he can not remember, only to have to confront it when his ex-partners show up looking for stolen money they believe he has.
Pound of Flesh (2015) – he starred in the action thriller film directed by Ernie Barbarash. Co-starring Darren Shahlavi, Aki Aleong, John Ralston, Jason Tobin and Philippe Joly. The story takes place in Manilla, Philippines, where in planning to donate his kidney to his dying niece, Deacon, a former black-ops agent, awakes the day before the operation to find he is the latest victim of organ theft. Stitched up and pissed-off, Deacon descends from his opulent hotel in search of his stolen kidney and carves a blood-soaked path through the darkest corners of the city – brothels, fight clubs, back-alley black markets, and elite billionaire estates.
He had a supporting role in a 2015 Chinese superhero parody film. It was directed, written by and also starring Da Peng, alongside Mabel Yuan and Liu Yan. The film was released on 17 July 2015.
He returned to his voice role of Master Croc in the Kung Fu Panda franchise for the third installment. Many of the same cast returned as well as new ones such as Bryan Cranston, J. K. Simmons and Kate Hudson.
Kickboxer: Vengeance is a 2016 American martial arts film directed by John Stockwell. It is a reboot of the original where Van Damme was the lead. Only this time he plays the master and Alain Moussi plays the student on a quest to avenge his brother. It co-stars Dave Bautista, Gina Carano, Georges St-Pierre and Darren Shahlavi.
He starred in Kill ‘Em All (2017), an action film directed by Peter Malota, and co-starring Autumn Reeser and Peter Stormare.
In 2018, he returned to his role in Kickboxer: Retaliation, a sequel to the reboot. Many of the same cast returned as well as new ones such as Christopher Lambert, Ronaldinho, Mike Tyson and Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson. The film received positive reviews.
Black Water (2018) is an action thriller film directed by Pasha Patriki. It co-stars Dolph Lundgren in the fifth collaboration between both actors as well as the first time they appear together as on-screen allies.
In 22 August of that same year, he starred in Julien Leclercq’s The Bouncer. He plays Lukas, an antihero struggling through life to nurture his eight-year-old daughter, and working in nightclubs as a doorkeeper to provide his income. When he gets involved in a fight, he ends up in jail, while his daughter gets placed under the care of social services. He is then asked by the police to infiltrate a criminal organization. In return, he would regain custody of his daughter.
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