For me, the most exciting thing about “The Expendables 2” opening this weekend is not the return of Arnold, Bruce or Sly. It’s all about the Muscles from Brussels, Jean Claude Van Damme.
“The Expendables 2” is Van Damme’s first appearance on the big screen since 1998, and it’s been a long 14 years, much too long. Martial arts films are virtually forgotten now in Hollywood, but for awhile in the ’80s and ’90s, stars such as Steven Seagal, Brandon Lee and Jeff Speakman headlined the genre. But I was always most impressed by Van Damme. He had the charisma and fighting ability to outshine the others. Sure, he wasn’t the greatest actor and his English was terrible at times, but Van Damme accepted that and always seemed to have a blast in his films regardless. I can’t wait to see him in “The Expendables 2,” and I’m definitely hoping that this role leads to even more on screen Van Dammage in the future.
So in honor of my first Hollywood man crush, I present my Fab Five Jean Claude Van Damme films.
#5 - 'Timecop' (1 of 5)
After the success of his early martial arts films, Van Damme attempted to become more of a mainstream action star (a la Bruce Willis and Sly Stallone), relying more on gun fights and CGI and less on his swift feet. “Timecop” was the first such effort and a very effective one at that. Based in the future, Van Damme plays a law enforcement officer whose job is to monitor and track down people who abuse time travel privileges, such as the dirty politician by Ron Silver who sends his men back to steal money for his Presidential campaign.
“Timecop” is a very slick and ambitious film and probably one of Van Damme’s more polished movies. While I did miss his martial artistry in it, at least he gives his fans one scene where he does his famous splits.