Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jean-Claude Van Damme: ( is not in) PREDATOR (1987)


I know we’re all super excited to get to Bloodsport, but I thought it was worth a mention that chronologically sandwiched in between No Retreat, No Surrender (1986) and Bloodsport (1988) Van Damme was originally slated to bring the agility and martial prowess he displayed in films like Breakin’ to the titular role in one of the greatest action movies of all time, Predator (1987). 

A sexual tyrannosaurus, NOT a sexual predator

As to why Van Damme does not appear as the final film, it depends on who you ask.  The director claims that Jean-Claude quit after two days because he did not feel that an uncredited  Special Effects part was worthy of an actor of his stature.  (perhaps he was riding high on the wave of adulation he garnered in No Retreat, No Surrender?)  Van Damme claims that he refused to do a stunt that was too dangerous, while Jesse “The Body” Ventura claims that Van Damme was fired after injuring another stuntman on purpose.  Of course every one of those people has a motive to fudge the truth, except for Jesse Ventura, he’s just old fashioned fucking insane. The most likely explanation I’ve heard is that Van Damme quit because it was balls hot wearing a full body rubber suit in the goddamned jungle, and if you’ve ever seen the original Predator costume you’d have quit too.  It involved walking on stilts, it had no visible eye-holes, no cool mandibles, and it looked fucking stupid.
Fucking lame
If Jean-Claude had retained the role of nature’s most perfect t killing machine (from space) it’s highly likely that he never would have had the time to make Bloodsport.  One could speculate that with no starring roles and a marquee stunt job to his credit Van Damme may have simply moved into the respectable, if not glamorous, world of fight choreography and stunt coordination.  Personally, I’d rather speculate about what it would have been like if Jean-Claude had a speaking part in Predator.
On set; presumably saying something
"Kwock & Froll!"
It’s hard to imagine improving on perfection, but if anyone could do it Jean-Claude could.  He certainly could not have replaced Carl Weathers or any of the other perfectly casted actors, but I can definitely picture him saying something like “der iz a praydaytorr in dis Jun-Gall!” and then getting skinned alive or blown up by lasers or whatever.  You couple that with a line like, “guh-ood jhoke Haw-kinns” (sarcasm), and I think you have the makings of a role that would add a little Jean-Claude magic to a movie without detracting from the plot in anyway.  If that doesn’t completely convince you, imagine this: what if the Predator killed one more dude?  Like it would be the exact same movie but Predator kills one more person than he did originally, and that person just happens to be Jean-Claude Van Damme.  I think even the harshest Van Damme critic would have to agree that it would be pretty cool to see Van Damme get killed by the Predator.

Van Damme?

The Van Damme in Predator thing is one of history’s great what-ifs, right up there with Lee’s Lost Orders, Operation Sea Lion, and the Battle of Hastings.  Although it’s a fun to ponder what might have been, we must stand back from the precipice, lest we slide down the slippery slope of speculative fiction.  Before you know it we could be having a serious discussion about a hypothetical army of Jean-Claude Van Damme clones overrunning the Imperial base on the forest moon of Endor, and that’s not something I want to do so let’s get back to the movies that actually star Jean-Claude Van Damme
Alternative history dorks think we'd all be flying dirigibles if it wasn't for the Hindenberg. Riiiight...

Next time: Probably a beer review and then Bloodsport. 
Ogre drinking a beer in Bloodsport.  It took awhile to find an image that worked for both.

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