[[quoteright:240:[[Film/StreetFighter http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/vandamn_9754.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:240:[-[[OhCrap Prepare yourself for a]] {{groin attack}}.-] ]]

->''"I love challenges. If you don't have any and can do whatever you want, then it's probably time to die."''

Jean-Claude Van Damme (born Jean-Claude [[EmbarrassingMiddleName Camille]] François Van Varenberg) is a Belgian martial artist, best known for his ActionHero films. Nicknamed "The Muscles from Brussels," he was a hot darling during the advent of 80s and early 90's SummerBlockbuster action films, before Creator/JackieChan and Creator/JetLi took center stage in America.

Before venturing into films, he had a career in the martial arts competitions. He also did some bodybuilding and studied ballet for five years.

Starting with couple minor roles in ''Breakin''', ''Monaco Forever'' and ''Street of the Damned'', his first major role in movies was Ivan, the champion of the villains in ''Film/NoRetreatNoSurrender''. He later found his StarMakingRole in ''Film/{{Bloodsport}}'', which highlighted his legitimate martial arts skills along with his flexibility (a man being able to do full leg splits is fairly rare). Reputedly had a feud with StevenSeagal, which came to a head when Seagal (falsely) claimed Van Damme had lied about his achievements in martial arts. According to SylvesterStallone, this came to a head at a party at his Miami home in 1997, when Van Damme offered to fight Seagal, who fled to a nightclub.

His early films tended to recycle certain plot elements, like his character unknowingly having a twin brother or attending a martial arts competition for the sake of a fallen friend.
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!Tropes applicable to the man:

* AdamWesting:
** He plays himself in an episode of ''Series/LasVegas''... and gets KilledOffForReal!
** ''Film/{{JCVD}}'' is a feature-length version of the trope.
* AmicableExes: He and his ex-wife remain close best friends, and he has promised that if she ever needs him, he'll be there to protect her. Aww...
* BadassGrandpa: Fifty-three years young and still capable of pulling off [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7FIvfx5J10 something like this]]
* CaptainErsatz: Johnny Cage from ''Franchise/MortalKombat'' games is modeled after him.
* TheCastShowoff: His early films featured him doing the full leg split at least once.
* CloudCuckooLander
* CunningLinguist: In addition to French and English, he also speaks German and Spanish.
* DumbMuscle: How popular media likes to stereotype him as.
* EmbarrassingNickName: Reportedly does not like being called "The Muscles from Brussels."
* ExtremityExtremist: His fighting style is usually focused on kicks.
* FakeNationality: As usual with the foreign action stars. Most famously in ''Film/StreetFighter''.
* [[GenderBlenderName Gender Bender Middle Name]]: Camille is a unisex name in the French language, although it does tend to be more frequently used on men in somewhat traditional social circles. He himself finds it feels "''old-fashioned'', like the smell of a piece of Provence furniture."
* GratuitousEnglish: Particularly prone to this trope in his French-language interviews due to his propensity to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codeswitching codeswitching]], which only compounds his CloudCuckoolander reputation among [[FrenchJerk the guys]] who primarily know him as "that funny Belgian who delivers {{IceCreamKoan}}s in Frenglish". Most famously, using the word "[[MemeticMutation aware]]" to convey the idea of self-awareness (maybe).
--> "Tu regardes à l'intérieur de toi et tu deviens[[note]]you look inside of yourself and you become[[/note]] ''aware of your own body''!"
--> "Manger des cacahuètes[[note]]Eating salted peanuts[[/note]], ''it's a really strong feeling''."
--> "J'ai perdu le ''touch'', j'avais plus le ''feeling'' de la vie... [...]La drogue, c'est comme quand tu ''close your eyes'' et que tu traverses la rue..."[[note]]"I lost touch, I no longer had a feel for life. Drugs are like when you close your eyes and cross the road." A lot of his quotes can evoke DudeNotFunny when rendered coherently in a single language.[[/note]]
* MrFanservice: Guaranteed to show off his perfect ass in ''most'' films he stars in.
** Of his own admission, he may be perfectly comfortable with showing off his ass but full frontal is a whole different story, quote, "I wouldn't want to lose all my fans."
* NiceGuy: By all accounts in RealLife, apparently.
* NotEvenBotheringWithTheAccent:
** Much like Creator/ArnoldSchwarzenegger, he is also fairly well known for his thick Belgian accent.
** [[Film/StreetFighter Coll eet ay]] ''[[MemeticMutation waikako]]''.
** [[Film/DoubleTeam Benkakan nahmburz.]]
* ShirtlessScene: Nearly every movie features him ''at least'' shirtless a minimum of once. Several movies have shown him completely nude. It helps that he has a very nice body.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen:
** He was originally set to portray the first ''Film/{{Predator}}'', when the original intention with the character was supposed to be quick and ninja-like. He was not very happy with the working conditions (hot suit in hot conditions) and the fact his face would never been seen led him to leave and be recast.
** He was offered a role in the first ''Film/TheExpendables'', but he refused.
*** After seeing the film he regretted the decision, so he appeared in the second one.
** He was also considered to play Gambit in the first ''Film/XMen1'' film, the main villain of ''RushHour 3'' and Michael Ceritto in ''Film/{{Heat}}''.

!!Van Damme's partial filmography:
* ''Film/{{Bloodsport}}'' (1988) -- As Frank Dux, who is compelled to enter an underground fighting tournament after the death of his sensei.
* ''Film/{{Kickboxer}}'' (1989) - As Kurt Sloane, who seeks revenge against a brutal kickboxer who paralyzed his brother from the waist down.
* ''Film/{{Cyborg}}'' (1989) -- Jean-Claude Van Damme being awesome on a post-apocalyptic future. One of director Albert Pyun's most commercially successful films.
* ''Film/{{Lionheart}}'' (1990) -- As Lyon, who enters American underground fighting circuit after the death of his brother to help his family.
* ''Film/{{Death Warrant}}'' (1990) -- As Louis Burke, a homicide cop sent to prison undercover to investigate a series of murders. Seen today, the film has quite a lot of [[NarmCharm Narm Charm]]
* ''Film/DoubleImpact'' (1991) -- Van Damme's characters find out that they are twin brothers and must avenge the death of their parents.
* ''Film/UniversalSoldier'' (1992) -- He is pitted against Creator/DolphLundgren. And it's awesome.
* ''Film/HardTarget'' (1993) -- Jean-Claude is [[HuntingTheMostDangerousGame the Most Dangerous game]] for the villains. Oh and it's directed by JohnWoo.
* ''Film/StreetFighter'' (1994) -- As Guile. Casting a man with thick Belgian accent as a very American character is only one of the film's SoBadItsGood highlights.
* ''Film/TimeCop'' (1994) -- Van Damme's most commercially successful film.
* ''Film/SuddenDeath'' (1995) -- [[DieHardOnAnX Die Hard in a hockey stadium]], notable for being filmed almost entirely within the Mellon Center (with the building's huge retractable dome used as part of a plot point), as well as being the debut of the Pittsburgh Penguins' mascot, Iceburgh.
* ''Film/TheQuest'' (1996) -- He also directed it. The movie wasn't a hit and didn't get very good reviews but it was praised for featuring actual martial artists and (more or less realistic) fighting styles across the world.
* ''Film/MaximumRisk'' (1996) -- Van Damme's character finds out that he had a twin brother and must avenge his death.
* ''Film/DoubleTeam'' (1997) -- An anti-terrorist agent must un-retire to stop a terrorist alongside Dennis Rodman.
* ''Film/UniversalSoldierTheReturn'' (1999) -- Van Damme is once again Deveraux, who oversees an updated [=UniSol=] project that inevitably goes haywire.
* ''Film/DesertHeat'' (1999) -- An ex-soldier off to visit a friend gets shot by bad guys and his bike stolen. [[Film/BigTroubleInLittleChina Son of a bitch must pay]].
* ''Film/InHell'' (2003) -- An American gets sent to a Russian prison for killing his wife's murderer. Directed by Hong Kong director Ringo Lam, it's one of the few films where Van Damme's fight scenes are few but also actually quite realistic.
* ''Wake Of Death'' (2004) -- An ex-cop takes on the [[TheTriadsAndTheTongs Triads]] after his wife is brutally murdered.
* ''Second In Command'' (2006) -- A Navy SEAL commander battles communist insurgents in Moldova.
* ''Until Death'' (2007) -- A drug-addicted cop falls into a coma after a gunfight and upon his recovery decides to use his second chance at life. A nice departure from Van Damme's usual ActionHero roles.
* ''Film/{{JCVD}}'' (2007) -- A [[SelfDeprecation self deprecating parody]]. His most critically praised film.
* ''Film/UniversalSoldierRegeneration'' (2009)
* ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda2'' (2011) -- He is the voice of Master Croc. [[AwesomenessIsVolatile Feel free to explode if you want to]]. Master Croc does a split kick, naturally.
* ''Film/UniversalSoldierDayOfReckoning'' (2012)
* ''TheExpendables2'' (2012) -- [[AllStarCast Of course]]. He's playing the villain, [[PlayingAgainstType in a departure from the norm]].
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