16 Hard Facts About Kickboxer
Nok su kow! Nok su kow! Here are a few facts that will help amp up your next screening of one of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s breakout movies, Kickboxer.
1. JCVD IS ACTUALLY JCCFVV.
The Muscles From Brussels's real name is Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg. He initially went by the stage name “Frank Cujo” before settling on Jean-Claude Van Damme.
2. HE GOT HIS BIG BREAK BY SHOWING HIS MOVES.
Van Damme, who moved to the U.S. in the early 1980s and worked as a waiter, demonstrated a roundhouse kick to producer Menahem Golan in the middle of food service. The impressed producer eventually signed Van Damme to a three-movie contract, which included Kickboxer.
3. VAN DAMME HAD DIRECT CONTROL OF THE FIGHT SCENES.
He directed and choreographed all the fight scenes in the movie himself. He also has a “Story By” credit in the final film.
4. THE MOVIE WASN’T ALWAYS CALLED KICKBOXER.
It was released in certain territories in Europe as Karate Tiger 3.
5. IT WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO STAR CHUCK NORRIS.
Norris attempted to buy the film rights to Kickboxer, but producer Menahem Golan wouldn’t sell them because he specifically bought the film rights as a starring role for Van Damme.
6. ITS MAIN VILLAIN IS MISCREDITED.
The evil kickboxer Tong Po is billed as “himself” in the movie’s end credits, though he was actually played by martial artist and actor Michel Qissi.
7. QISSI AND VAN DAMME WERE CHILDHOOD FRIENDS.
The pair trained at the same Shotokan Karate dojo as kids in Belgium, and Qissi also served as Van Damme’s personal trainer during the production of Kickboxer.
8. UNLIKE TONG PO, QISSI ISN’T THAI.
Qissi is a Moroccan-born martial artist who moved to Belgium when he was two years old and eventually moved to Hollywood with Van Damme to star in movies. He actually had makeup applied to his face in Kickboxer to make him a more believable Asian martial artist.
9. ERIC SLOANE WAS AN ACTUAL HEAVYWEIGHT KICKBOXING CHAMPION.
The character was played by former kickboxing champ Dennis Alexio. Kickboxer was Alexio’s second—and last—feature film appearance.
10. IT WAS SHOT ON LOCATION IN THAILAND.
The film’s villain may not have been authentically Thai, but the setting was. The production lasted 50 days between June and August of 1988, and had a relatively small budget of $1.5 million.
11. THE DIRECTOR MAKES A QUICK CAMEO.
Director Mark DiSalle appears early on in the movie as the American reporter who coaxes Eric and Kurt Sloane to go to Thailand.
12. FREDDY LI’S VOICE WAS DUBBED BY FAMOUS CARTOON VOICE ACTOR JIM CUMMINGS.
Cummings—whose work in Kickboxer was uncredited—is also the man behind the voices of Winnie the Pooh, the Tasmanian Devil, and Darkwing Duck.
13. PEOPLE DIDN’T THINK JCVD’S SKILLS WERE LEGIT.
After the movie was a success, legendary B-movie producer Roger Corman announced a $100,000 winner-take-all kickboxing match between Van Damme and world champion kickboxer Don Wilson because he thought JCVD’s martial arts background was fake. Unfortunately, the publicity stunt never happened.
14. VAN DAMME DIDN’T COME BACK FOR ANY OF THE SEQUELS.
Four Kickboxer sequels were made between 1991 and 1995, but Van Damme wasn’t around. These films instead focused on Van Damme’s character’s brother David Sloane, who is never mentioned in the first movie.
15. BUT VAN DAMME WILL BE BACK FOR THE REMAKE.
Titled Kickboxer: Vengeance, Van Damme will take over the role of the Muay Thai master who teaches Kurt Sloane (now played by actor and stuntman Alain Moussi) to fight. It’s set to be released in 2016.
16. VAN DAMME STILL DOES THE KICKBOXER DANCE.
He recently appeared on Conan and re-created the iconically cheesy dance from Kickboxer.