Jean-Claude Van Damme is an actor, martial artist, filmmaker, and fight choreographer from Belgium. With the goal of becoming an actor, he came to the United States in 1982, where he worked odd jobs and on several films until landing his breakthrough role as the lead in the martial arts film Bloodsport. It was recently revealed why Jean-Claude Van Damme did not reprise his role as Kurt Sloane in Kickboxer 2.
Screen Rant noted that Jean-Claude Van Damme did not reprise his role as Kurt Sloane in Kickboxer 2 for an interesting reason. Many action fans were surprised by this choice, as the first Kickboxer was one of the first lead roles for The Muscles From Brussels after working on stunt teams for Chuck Norris and as an extra throughout the 1980s. Jean-Claude Van Damme was even the first option to play the titular character in Predator, but he was eventually replaced by Kevin Peter Hall due to his reservations about only being onscreen in the Predator suit.
Kickboxer is not just one of the films that launched JCVD’s career, but it has also become an iconic meme in its own right. The scene in question features Van-Damme’s Kurt Sloane dancing like nobody is looking after his master asks him to do so that Sloane’s balance may be observed. With such impressive moves, it’s a shame Van Damme didn’t return to unleash another move in Kickboxer 2.
Jean-Claude Van Damme declined to reprise his role as Kurt Sloane in Kickboxer 2 because he wanted to distance himself from the martial arts subgenre at that point in his career in 1991. JCVD was inspired by Jeremy Irons’ performance as twin surgeons in David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers and instead took on the dual role of brothers Chad and Alex Wagner in Double Impact.
Van Damme’s portrayal of twins would become a trademark throughout his career. Van Damme thought that by playing Chad Wagner in Double Impact, he would demonstrate his range as an actor rather than just his martial arts ability. Although JCVD did not appear in Kickboxer 2, Kurt Sloane did. Body twin Emmanuel Kervyn took over the role and was shortly murdered by Kickboxer’s antagonist Tong Po, setting off the storyline of Kickboxer 2 in the same way as the first.
However, Jean-Claude Van Damme would later return to the Kickboxer franchise. Despite having skipped all of Kickboxer’s original sequels in favor of projects like Universal Soldier with Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme returned to the franchise with the reboot Kickboxer: Vengeance. Ted Field, the producer of Kickboxer: Vengeance, indicated that Van Damme’s role as the mentor in the reboot would be a “passing [of] the torch” of the franchise to Alain Moussi, the new Kurt Sloane.
The Kickboxer sequels were low-budget films, with some going straight to video or straight to television rather than the more traditional theatrical release. Although the participation of Jean-Claude Van Damme may have substantially raised the profile of Kickboxer 2, JCVD stated at the time that he had no interest in revisiting his early martial arts work in favor of more traditional action fare like Sudden Death and Hard Target.
The departure of Jean-Claude Van Damme from the Kickboxer franchise was unfortunate for fans of both the series and JCVD. However, it was perhaps the greatest choice for his career. He ultimately decided what was best for him. To get the latest updates, keep an eye on Thirsty.
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