Long ago, before the problems with drugs and fights at strip clubs, Jean Claude Van Damme ripped himself out of the fighting world, oiled up his flesh, and became America's Muscles from Brussels. At first, the process was slow and simple -- breaking into the world of film as "Gay Karate Man" in Monaco Forever, being a background performer in Rue barbare, and then getting some uncredited English work as a spectator in that 1984 classic, Breakin'.
But then came No Retreat, No Surrender, where he played a Russian baddie opposite General Hospital and Guiding Light star Kurt McKinney, and the rest was history. He did all he could do in the action realm -- kickboxing revenge, jail, video game flicks, soldier, and even cracking walnuts with his butt.
These days, he's whipped up an insane amount of positive buzz with JCVD and reinvigorated his career. But it all had to start somewhere. As a well-oiled, good-guy ode to that sexy, muscled Belgian, I give you: Bloodsport and Kickboxer.
*Note: In the interest of good matches, I'm leaving off my all-time favorite Van Damme flick, Cyborg, to get its love another day. Gibson will have his moment to shine!