Belgian actor and martial arts superstar Jean Claude Van Damme is planning to retire from action filmmaking after releasing one last pulse-pounding, bare-knuckle adventure. After having made a name for himself in the Belgian martial arts world, Van Damme moved to America in the early ’80s to pursue a dream of acting. After playing a few smaller roles in movies like No Retreat, No Surrender and War and Remembrance, he burst onto the American martial arts movie scene as the leading man in 1988’s Bloodsport.
Following the success of Bloodsport, the fact that Van Damme was officially an action star was undeniable. He’d lead nearly 20 movies in the next ten years alone and, to this day, hasn’t gone more than a year in between projects since Bloodsport. Van Damme’s celebrity continued to rise throughout the ’80s and ’90s thanks to hits like Universal Soldier and Timecop. He even starred in Hard Target, the American directorial debut of cinematic gunfight maestro John Woo. While much of Van Damme’s output of late has been relegated to home and streaming releases, he returned to the big screen in The Expendables 2. Now, after 30-plus years of fistfights, shootouts, and car chases, Van Damme is leaving it all behind.
According to Deadline, Van Damme has announced his latest project, What’s My Name?, will be the final action movie he will work on, saying that after “living in hotels the past 30 years,” he’s ready for some change. Van Damme will play a fictionalized version of himself suffering from amnesia following a car accident. On a mission to restore his memory, Van Damme will have to square off against a who’s-who of enemies and actors returning from his previous movies. Van Damme seems to think these rematches will be the perfect farewell to his action era. Check out his comments below:
I wanted to leave the stage but with a revisit of my career, starting with Bloodsport, the one where I started to become famous. I want this to be a new Bloodsport but on a higher level. In the film, I am on my way down in terms of career, and as I come out of a premiere of another action movie, I am not happy because I’ve been living in hotels the past 30 years, which is actually true. We’re going to bring real elements from my real life and what happened to me. I came from Belgium, all the way to Hollywood. I succeeded, I failed, I came back. So I’m walking out on the street after the premiere, and boom! — a car hits me because I’m drunk. When I wake up from the impact, I don’t know what’s my name, and no one recognizes me.
What’s My Name? will be directed by Jeremy Zag from a script by Oscar-winning Green Book writer Nick Vallelonga and Paul Sloan (based on a story by Van Damme). Longtime Van Damme aficionados will surely relish seeing villains of the past return as the hero kicks and splits his way down memory lane, though it could prove bittersweet knowing it’s for the last time. The movie’s plot may seem strangely self-aware for typical Van Damme action fare, but this actually won’t be the first time he’s played a meta variant of himself on film. In 2008’s JVCD, Van Damme also portrayed a semi-fictionalized version of himself and must thwart a bank robbery when he’s taken hostage.
Van Damme didn’t confirm whether or not he’ll still pursue other non-action projects, but either way, his exiting the genre marks the end of an era. But at least it seems like he’ll be leaving in style and offering more than a little bit of fan service in the process. With the planned roster of villains planned to be essentially an almost greatest hits of Jean Claude Van Damme‘s classic foes, What’s My Name? will hopefully be a worthy send-off.
Next: What Happened To Jean-Claude Van Damme
About The Author