Jean-Claude Van Damme documentary reveals a new side to the Muscles from Brussels

Jean-Claude Van Damme documentary reveals a new side to the Muscles from Brussels

Credit: Belga / Eric Lalmand

A new documentary on the life of ‘The Muscles from Brussels’ himself Jean-Claude Van Damme will air for the first time on La Une this Friday, RTBF reports.

The film by director Olivier Monssens covers his early life in the Belgian capital where he grew up and documents his rise to Hollywood superstardom and his position as one of the most famous action heroes of all time.

Those who think they know the eccentric icon of action cinema will be pleasantly surprised by some of the revelations in "Jean-Claude Van Damme, blow after blow". JCVD has had a varied and interesting life, even before taking the silver screen by storm. Some of the lesser know anecdotes include...

  • He was an outstanding classical dancer.

While still living in Brussels, the young Jean-Claude Van Varenberg took ballet lessons. “He had two exceptional gifts: strength and flexibility, which is very rare," explains Monette Loza, his former dance teacher, in the documentary. Such was his prowess that his career could have taken a quite different trajectory. World-famous choreographer Maurice Béjart wanted JCVD to join his troupe to become a prima ballerina.

  • He opened a gym in the Brussels commune of Ixelles.

JCVD owns the California Gym, a weight room located near the cemetery of Ixelles. "Jean-Claude is the manager of this gym, but he does not manage much in fact," jokes Philippe Graton, photographer and friend of the actor, in the film.

  • He was once a bouncer at Chuck Norris' restaurant.

In the 1980s, Jean-Claude left his native Belgium for the United States. His goal was to live the American dream and become a movie star. Unfortunately, success didn’t happen right away. JCVD experienced several years of difficulty. It was at this time that he met legendary martial artist and movie star Chuck Norris, who hired him as a bouncer, doorman and "sparring partner", therefore combining his door and security duties with training with icon Norris.

  • JCVD is a film editor – when the inspiration or necessity takes him.

Legend has it that Jean-Claude was less than happy with the editing job that had been done on one of his breakthrough movies, the now iconic 'Bloodsport'. Being of the opinion that the editing was terrible, he took it upon himself to re-edit the film to his own satisfaction, the version of which is the one fans all know and love.

  • He married bodybuilder Gladys Portugues of whom he was a fan.

While JCVD was still a young man dreaming of a career in cinema, he fell in love with the sportswoman Gladys Portugues after seeing her portrait in a magazine. The ever-confident Jean-Claude exclaimed immediately that he would marry her and many years later when his film career was beginning to take off, he met Gladys. They fell in love and indeed married. The couple is still together today.

"Jean-Claude Van Damme, blow after blow", a documentary by Olivier Monssens, can be seen on La Une on Friday, March 17 at 20:50, and will be available for streaming on Auvio for 90 days after that.

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