Image of Jean-Claude Van Damme

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. 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. In 1984 he got his first significant 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). 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 re-cut 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 good looks led to starring roles in higher budgeted movies like Cyborg (1989), A.W.O.L.: Absent Without Leave (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).

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Oct 18, 1960 In Sint-Agatha Berchem, Belgium
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the movie Woman Between Wolf and Dog 1979-06-04
Latest Project:
Movie Minions: The Rise of Gru 2021-06-24
Known For
Poster of Until Death
Poster of Double Team
Poster of Friends
Movie Minions: The Rise of Gru Jean Clawed (voice) 2021-06-24
Movie Kickboxer: Retaliation Master Durand 2018-01-26
Movie Black Water Wheeler 2018-05-18
Movie Kill 'em All Philip 2017-05-08
Movie Kung Fu Panda 3 Master Croc (voice) 2016-01-23
Movie Kickboxer: Vengeance Master Durand 2016-07-14
Series Jean-Claude Van Johnson Johnson 2016-08-19
Movie Pound of Flesh Deacon 2015-05-07
Movie Jian Bing Man Himself 2015-07-17
Movie Swelter Stillman 2014-04-20
Movie Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films Gibson Rickenbacker (archive footage) (uncredited) 2014-10-06
Movie The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films Himself 2014-10-22
Movie Welcome to the Jungle Storm 2013-04-27
Movie Enemies Closer Xander 2013-12-04
Movie Dragon Eyes Tiano 2012-05-10
Movie Corporal vs. Napoleon 2012-01-25
Movie The Expendables 2 Vilain 2012-08-08
Movie 6 Bullets Samson Gaul 2012-09-11
Movie U.F.O. George 2012-12-15
Movie Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning Luc Deveraux 2012-10-04
Movie Kung Fu Panda 2 Master Croc (voice) 2011-05-25
Series Jean-Claude Van Damme: Behind Closed Doors 2011-03-22
Movie Assassination Games Vincent Brazil 2011-07-28
Movie Beur sur la ville Colonel Merot 2011-10-11
Movie Universal Soldier: Regeneration Luc Deveraux 2009-10-01
Movie The Shepherd: Border Patrol Jack Robideaux 2008-03-04
Movie Until Death Anthony Stowe 2007-01-19
Movie Second in Command Cmdr. Samuel 'Sam' Keenan 2006-05-02
Movie Heist School Charles 2006-10-20
Movie Narco Himself 2004-12-01
Movie Wake of Death Ben Archer 2004-12-28
Movie In Hell Kyle LeBlanc 2003-11-24
Movie Dans la peau de Jean-Claude Van Damme 2003-05-07
Movie Ultimate Fights from the Movies Max Walker (archive footage) 2002-04-16
Movie Derailed Jacques Kristoff 2002-05-19
Movie All the Love You Cannes! Self 2002-05-16
Movie Replicant Replicant / Garrotte 2001-05-11
Movie The Unbeatable Bruce Lee Himself (archive footage) 2001-12-18
Series Beckmann Unknown 1999-01-25
Movie Inferno Eddie Lomax 1999-09-25
Movie The Path of the Dragon Himself (archive footage) 1998-01-01
Movie Knock Off Marcus Ray 1998-09-04
Movie Legionnaire Alain Lefevre 1998-12-03
Movie Double Team Jack Quinn 1997-04-04
Series E! True Hollywood Story Unknown 1996-03-29
Movie Top Fighter Himself (Archive Footage) 1995-06-15
Movie Kickboxer 4: The Aggressor Kurt Sloane [archive footage] 1994-07-27
Movie Cinema of Vengeance Himself (archive footage) 1994-01-01
Movie Timecop Max Walker 1994-09-15
Series Friends Himself 1994-09-22
Movie Nowhere to Run Sam Gillen 1993-01-15
Movie Last Action Hero Jean-Claude Van Damme (uncredited) 1993-06-18
Movie Hard Target Chance Boudreaux 1993-08-20
Movie The Curse of the Dragon Self (archive footage) 1993-06-30
Series The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Unknown 1992-05-25
Movie Universal Soldier Luc Devreux/GR44 1992-07-10
Movie Double Impact Alex / Chad Wagner 1991-07-31
Movie Death Warrant Louis Burke 1990-09-14
Movie Lionheart Leon Gaultier 1990-06-07
Movie Bloodsport Frank Dux 1988-02-26
Movie Black Eagle Andrei 1988-05-01
Movie No Retreat, No Surrender Ivan Kraschinsky the Russian 1986-05-02
Movie Monaco Forever Gay Karate Man 1984-01-01
Movie Barbarous Street Extra in Police Arrival Sequence (uncredited) 1984-01-04
Movie Breakin' Spectator in First Dance Sequence 1984-01-10
Movie Missing in Action Soldier (uncredited) 1984-11-16
Movie Woman Between Wolf and Dog 1979-06-04
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