Jean-Claude Van Damme’s top 10 movies (blame Volvo for this)

I came across this awesome video on Facebook the other day and it naturally got me thinking about the fabulously entertaining big-screen career of Jean-Claude Van Damme, aka The Muscles from Brussels. Can you believe that the foundation of this post was drafted around his birthday about 3 years ago?  Frightening isn’t it?

I can’t believe 1.) That I’ve wasted this much time in my life contemplating the “talents” of JCVD and 2.) What I wrote was still hanging around a SimpleNote account I haven’t accessed in more than a year.

It feels like a million years ago, but on Oct. 18, 2010 JCVD’s birthday got me thinking: This guy has made a ton of movies that thoroughly entertain and crack me up, why not take time out of my busy life and rank my 10 favorite JCVD movies?

Without further ado, away we go from the bottom up …

10. Nowhere to Run

They're stuck in a cheesy action movie and they have "Nowhere to Run."

They’re stuck in a cheesy action movie and they have “Nowhere to Run.”

As far as I can remember this is the first time JCVD had a non-dream sequence love scene, a huge step forward in his cheesy big-screen career. For some reason this was a long-running point of amusement among my friends when we went to Van Damme movies.

Until “Nowhere to Run” came along Van Damme either turned down romantic overtures from gorgeous women or he’d only enjoy a fleeting moment of intimacy during a dream sequence. In this movie he finally gives love a chance.  Way to go big guy.

Ted Levine is great as the film’s villain and I think the Culkin brother in this movie is the one that didn’t spoon Michael Jackson … but I could be wrong.

The only other thing to note here is that “Nowhere to Run” was written by Joe Eszterhas, the same man who brought us the unforgettable “Showgirls.”

9. Death Warrant

Cynthia Gibbs is always adorable, even in a ridiculous Jean-Claude Van Damme movie set in prison.

Cynthia Gibbs is always adorable, even in a ridiculous Jean-Claude Van Damme movie set in prison.

There’s almost always a silly explanation for JCVD’s accent and in “Death Warrant” they work around it by making him a French Canadian cop who enters prison as part of some undercover mission for justice.

The slam-dunk, hands-down best JCVD quote in “Death Warrant” comes when a fellow inmate threatens the buffed Belgian with some unwanted prison romance: “No, I don’t punk.” Damn right, JCVD don’t punk for anyone!

You can watch the whole movie for free here and you won’t be disappointed (unless you have something against stupid action movies set in prison starring Belgians). If you watch that and decide you absolutely, positively need to add “Death Warrant” to your home movie collection, for some reason it’s available on Blu-ray.

Robert Guillaume, one of my personal favorites, co-stars in “Death Warrant” as a convict. It’s hard seeing Guillaume behind bars and I can only suspect that he must have gotten caught up in some sort of political scandal while serving on the governor’s staff in “Benson.”

No. 9 on this list also stars the always-adorable Cythia Gibb, so “Death Warrant” has that going for it too. This is easily her best performance outside of “Youngblood” and “Short Circuit 2.”

8. Sudden Death

Take “Under Siege” and stage the whole thing at a hockey game and you basically end up with this movie. This great movie.

Powers Booth is a poor man’s Alan Rickman (circa “Die Hard”) as the money-hungry, stop-at-nothing, evil genius bad guy in “Sudden Death” and JCVD delivers plenty of signature roundhouse kicks while saving the day.

Clint Eastwood’s “Sudden Impact” remains my favorite action movie with “sudden” in a two-word title, but this Van Damme flick is right behind it.

7. Kickboxer


This makes the top 10 list just for JCVD’s hilarious dance/fight scene in a Thai bar.  Watch it.  Tell me you’re not laughing or at least shaking your head with an amused smile on your face.  It’s absurd, it’s awesome, it’s classic Van Damme.

I think my friend and I wore out the rewind button on his VCR watching that scene over and over while laughing our asses off when we were in high school.

Tong Po remains one of the biggest movie jerks I’ve ever seen. All-time classic bad guy.

“Kickboxer” may be No. 7 on this list but it’s definitely the funniest movie here.

6. Universal Soldier

This movie is all kinds of awesome.

Matching JCVD up with Dolph Lundgren is probably the most brilliant pairing since peanut butter and jelly got together. And Lundgren has to be the smartest man to ever star in so many stupid action movies. Read his Wikipedia page. Seriously, the guy is brilliant.

I’m amazed this movie spawned so many sequels and I had no idea until now that big-budget disaster master Roland Emmerich directed “Universal Soldier.”

5. Hard Target 

Did he just bite the rattle off a snake? Damn right he did, and he did it with a straight face.  It's called acting people and JCVD can do it with the worst of'em.

Did he just bite the rattle off a snake? Damn right he did, and he did it with a straight face. It’s called acting people and JCVD can do it with the worst of’em.

JCVD as a Cajun spouting off lines like, “How does it feel to be hunted”? Director John Woo doing all that artsy slow-motion John Woo stuff? That’s more than enough to make this top 10 list.

JCVD standing on a running motorcycle and then flipping over a car after he shoots it up? JCVD punching a snake and then pulling off its rattle so he can hang it in a tree as a booby trap for the bad guys?

Thow in Lance Henriksen being his usual bad-assed self and that’s more than enough to make it into the top 5 of this list.

4. Time Cop

JCVD travels through time to kick butt and save the future and I paid hard-earned money to watch him do it when this movie came out. God bless America!

Van Damme delivers his best line when he sneaks up behind Mia Sara while she’s looking at clocks the mall and seductively says, “There’s never enough time … to satisfy a woman.”

The man is a terrible actor but he deserves some credit for delivering a line like that with a straight face.

Ron Silver joins the ranks of great bad guys in JCVD movies as the power-mad senator in “Time Cop.” Silver’s a jerk in this movie but he does it with gusto.

3. Double Impact

Two Van Dammes for the price of one. It's the deal of the century.

Two Van Dammes for the price of one. It’s the deal of the century.

Two JVCD’s for the price of one movie ticket? Hell yeah!

Throw in Bolo Yeung, Geoffrey Lewis, a lot of explosions and fighting and you have yourself a little something I call cinematic gold.

My wife should thank her lucky stars that this isn’t on Netflix Instant or Amazon Prime because if it was we’d watch it more often than “Time Cop.”

2. Lionheart

One of the first and still one of the finest JCVD flicks I’ve ever seen. Yeah, I paid to see this and a lot of movies on this list in the theater. I don’t count JCVD movies as guilty pleasures because I don’t feel one ounce of guilt about enjoying his movies.

A French Foreign Legionnaire turned L.A. street fighter? Brilliant! Casting Harrison Page – who I love, love, loved in “Sledge Hammer!” – was another sure-fire way to get me into the theater.

My 3-year-old daughter loves this movie for all the “owies” Van Damme doles out to his opponents.

And now, drum roll please …

1. Bloodsport

One of his Van Damme’s first films and still his best to date.

JCVD has to be one of the worst actors of all time and his you-can-see-it-coming-a-mile-away helicopter kick has to be one of the silliest signature fight moves of all time, but this movie rocks in spite of all of that. “Bloodsport” is like a cheesy ’80s video game come to life.

How can the kid in you not love this stupid little movie jam-packed with bad acting and wall-to-wall ass kicking? Buying the “Time Cop”/”Bloodsport” combo DVD has to be one of the best investments I’ve ever made.

Every couple of years I get a little too pumped up after watching “Bloodsport” and I tell my wife that I’m going to start training for the Kumite. She always looks at me like I’m crazy which is probably exactly what you’re thinking after reading this post.

Behold, one of the greatest movie fight scenes ever:

So there you have it, my list of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s top 10 movies.  Blame Volvo for making a new commercial with Jean-Claude Van Damme and getting my mind rolling through his career.


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