WHAT’S MY NAME?: Jean-Claude Van Damme Hails His Final Action Star Bow With Jeremy Zag Directing
Taking a page from Mabrouk El Mechri’s JCVD according to Mike Fleming Jr.’s Deadline exclusive on Friday, martial arts action movie superstar Jean-Claude Van Damme is closing the book on his stellar career with director Jeremy Zag’s What’s My Name?, as news rolls out of EFM with Wild Bunch International handling sales; CAA is repping domestic sales.
Per the report, What’s My Name? reunites the action star with some of his classic screen opponents of yesteryear, and “will dip into his cinematic and personal life — as did the 2008 film JCVD — and that it will bring to an end his long career as an action film fighter. Nick Vallelonga (Green Book) and Paul Sloan (Stilleto) penned the script based on a story by Van Damme, who is producing with Zag, and with Cross Creek’s Tyler Thompson; Cross Creek is fully financing the film.
More from Fleming Jr. on the film:
In the film, Van Damme will play himself. Left in a coma following a serious car accident, he wakes up with amnesia, unrecognizable to everyone, including himself. Through a series of fights against iconic fighters from across his legendary career, Van Damme begins a quest for his own identity and life meaning. This leads him to one final match.
The report also insists the film will reunite him with past screen stars who’ve portrayed the villains in his films, including Dolph Lundgren (Universal Soldier, Universal Soldier: Regeneration, Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning, The Expendables 2), Michel Qissi (Kickboxer, Lionheart, Bloodsport) and Bolo Yeung (Bloodsport, Double Impact).
It’s a pretty tall order given the coterie of screen villains Van Damme has fought over the years, beginning his career in the late 1970s and building his name and reputation around the moniker, “The Muscles From Brussells”, becoming a household name with his aforementioned roster of Hollywood hits in addition to other films like Black Eagle, Cyborg, Death Warrant, Lionheart, Hard Target, Steven de Souza’s adaptation of Street Fighter, Timecop, Double Team, Knock Off, and so many more. The actor also took on directing duties debuting and ultimately leading 1995’s The Quest, and to add, emerging as a fan’s hopeful for reprisals via sequels which never panned out.
Some of Van Damme’s recent appearances include starring in an alternative supporting role next to lead actor Alain Moussi for a pair of Kickboxer reboots – Kickboxer: Vengeance and Kickboxer: Retaliation, as well as season one-only Amazon series, Jean-Claude Van Johnson, and Netflix action comedy, The Last Mercenary.
More from Deadline:
“I wanted to leave the stage but with a revisit of my career, starting with Bloodsport, the one where I started to become famous,” Van Damme told Deadline. “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.”
Said Zag: “He’s trapped in this Catch-22 where his heart is his only guide and that road will lead him through a journey that includes a lot of fights, in what will be a real action mainstream movie where we treat JC as a real human super hero.”
“I grew up watching JC and want new audiences to do the same thing, and when he stands against Tong Po, he’ll begin to flashback in his mind, and we will reproduce some of the best fights from some of his biggest movies.”
“We are getting all of the iconic people I fought and have most of them come back,” he said. “All of the UFC fighters grew up watching my movies, and we will have some of those great champions as fighters, and some as managers like Randy Couture. We’ll have a great mix and the fights will have a real feel to them.”
This is all especially good news for some of my peers on Twitter considering de Souza’s Street Fighter is such a cult classic for reasons all their own. Invariably, anyone who’s watched action movies over the last 40 years or more will surely have a favorite.
Shoot us a Tweet and tell us your favorite JCVD film or moment in history.
Lead pic: Warner Bros.
[This article was originally published three days ago, with a previous version now updated, as of Monday, to include producing and financing info.]
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.
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