Jean Claude Van Damme is set to retire after her next film What is my name?, and there are several strong contenders for its returning villains. The Jean-Claude Van Damme spin-kicking first broke out in the late ’80s with B-movie hits like No retreat or capitulation, and then blood sport. Van Damme gradually became a bona fide action star in the 90s, and as his career waned at the end of the decade, he made a significant comeback in the 21st century with hits like JCVD, The Expendables 2and the last two universal soldier movies.
For What is my name?, Van Damme would portray a version of himself struggling with the challenges of his success. After being hit by a car, the accident leaves Van Damme’s character stricken with amnesia. Van Damme spoke of the film as sort of a trip down memory lane for his career in several ways.
Lundgren is one of the nasty candidates for What is my name? mentioned in the Deadline announcement, and the idea makes a lot of sense. Van Damme and Lundgren’s on-screen history dates back to 1992 universal soldierthe two returning to their Unisol rivalry with Universal Soldier: Regeneration and Universal Soldier: Reckoning Day. From the perspective of the first universal soldier, the duo even staged a fake Van Damme-Lundgren feud as a riff on their roles as Luc Deveraux and Andrew Scott. Van Damme and Lundgren also appeared together in action films The Expendables 2 and black water, so their longtime association would make Lundgren an ideal villain for a meta-conclusion to Van Damme’s career. Lundgren’s massive size also made him a very imposing foe not only to Van Damme but also to others like Scott Adkins, Tony Jaa and Jet Li. This makes another Van Damme-Lundgren showdown all the more appealing.
Also mentioned in the Deadline article as may appear in What is my name?Bolo Yeung was one of Van Damme’s most memorable villains right from the start in 1988 blood sport. The film was both Van Damme’s big breakthrough and built on Yeung’s accumulated reputation since Enter the dragon as a formidable antagonist with brawn over brawn. Many of the most quoted lines in the set blood sport candor were heard through Yeung’s performance as Chong Li, including “You are next!” and “You break my record. Now I’m breaking you, like I’m breaking your friend!Van Damme and Yeung will fight again later in the 1991 action movie Double impact, as well. With What is my name? looking back on Van Damme’s career for his final hurray, Bolo Yeung returning for a trio of Van Damme villainous performances is a no-brainer.
Another old-school Van Damme opponent was also named by Deadline for What is my name?more precisely Michel Qissi from Kickboxer. Following the success of blood sportFollowed by Van Damme in 1989 Kickboxer pit him against another unforgettable villain in Muay hai fighter Tong Po. Qissi’s vicious performance as Tong Po made the antagonist an immediate equal to Chong Li. Van Damme, Qissi’s Tong Po is still a compelling presence as the almost incarnate Predator Van Damme, and one who could deliver a chilling scowl with the best of them. A meeting of Van Damme and Michel Qissi for What is my name? would deliver the exact hit of nostalgia for Van Damme’s long career that the film is supposed to return to.
If there is an individual who is a shoo-in for the villain of What is my name?, it’s Scott Adkins. With his amazing abilities as a martial artist and roles like Yuri Boyka in the Undisputed series and many other action movies, Adkins essentially casts himself as Van Damme’s successor in the modern era of direct-to-video action. Adkins and Van Damme’s collaborations also include The Shepherd: Border Patrol, Assassination Games, The Expendables 2and Universal Soldier: Reckoning Day. In a swansong film based on the legacy of Van Damme’s career, Adkins making a villainous appearance would tie the arc beautifully. Even better, Adkins as the villain of What is my name? could do a double whammy as a notch in Scott Adkins’ own action hero legacy alongside Van Damme.
Michael Jai White
Michael Jai White is another modern action hero with his own story in Van Damme’s career legacy. After a small appearance in 1992 universal soldierWhite returned seven years later as the AI-powered villain UniSol SETH in Universal Soldier: The Return. White’s performance as SETH was the highlight of the film, and his final showdown with Van Damme delivered a martial arts battle with each at the top of their respective game. White has since portrayed both heroes and villains in action movies like Blood & Bones, injured man, Triple Threatand the never back down MMA series. As Van Damme prepares to bow out with What is my name?Michael Jai White would make a charismatic and formidable villain in Van Damme’s late career.
Daniel Bernhardt has made a name for himself in action films with his appearances in John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Horizonsand Nobodybut his early career linked him to Van Damme through Bernhardt’s role in anchoring the three sequels in the blood sport franchise. Additionally, Bernhardt has also been noted for his strong physical resemblance to Van Damme, while his flexibility and kicking skills have also earned him similar comparisons. While he is rightly more recognized for his own merit in contemporary culture, Bernhardt and Van Damme share blood sport connection would make for a perfect meta-hero-villain showdown.
Alain Moussi has performed stunts in many films such as Immortals, suicide squadand Nobodyas he first came to mainstream attention with the 2016 martial arts film Kickboxer: Revenge. A remake of Van Damme’s 1989 film Kickboxer, Revenge saw Moussi take on the original Van Damme role from Kurt Sloan, with Van Damme himself in the role of Durand’s Muay Thai mentor. Moussi and Van Damme returned for the 2018 sequel Kickboxer: Retaliation, both films showing Moussi as a capable physical leader. Moussi would also headline the sci-fi martial arts film Jiu-Jitsu in 2020 and continues to be a rising action star. Having worked with Van Damme in the Kickboxer reboot movies, Moussi would make another great candidate for Van Damme’s meta-final action movie villain in What is my name? while returning their former dynamic ally.
Jean Claude Van Damme
Although there are plenty of villain possibilities for What is my name?, Jean-Claude Van Damme could also be his own worst enemy with his history of dual roles. 1991 action film by Van Damme Double impact had him play antagonistic twin brothers forced by fate to become friends, while Replicant also saw Van Damme as a clone fighting his original serial killer. In addition to playing two roles in a film, Van Damme’s performance in JCVD had the same semi-autobiographical approach as What is my name? seems to go for. Van Damme even proposed a Consumables 4 return as Claude Vilain, the twin brother of his antagonist Jean-Vilain. Whether What is my name? is to end van damme’s action movie career on a note of self-reflection and legacy, having van damme in the twin role of hero and antagonist could be just what the doctor ordered for this last round.
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