‘Kickboxer’s’ Dance Scene Proves Jean-Claude Van Damme Is a Legend
Jean-Claude Van Damme makes exactly one kind of movie: a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. This winning formula is really utilized in his two late ’80s breakout films, 1988’s Bloodsport and 1989’s Kickboxer. Unquestionably all-American man (Frank Dux/Kurt Sloane) travels to Asia (Hong Kong/Bangkok) to compete in an intense tournament (the Kumite/kickboxing), but the stakes are raised when his ally (fellow American Ray/brother Eric) is badly injured and JCVD vows revenge. The same movie, made twice in two years. Who was going to stop this martial arts master from making movies his way? No one!
When deciding which Van Damme movie to watch, you really have to focus on things besides the plot. Each movie’s got their charm, like Bloodsport’s banging soundtrack (“Ku-mi-te, Ku-mi-te, Ku-mi-te!”) or Double Impact’s rampant use of aerobics wear. But of all of Van Damme’s movies, only one truly captures his moves. Kickboxer–which you can now stream on STARZ–stands out as the best JCVD movie because of one two-minute sequence. This is the movie where Jean-Claude Van Damme proves he Jean-Claude Can Dance.The moment comes at the 55:30 mark of Kickboxer. Jean-Claude–er, I mean, United States citizen Kurt Sloane–is in a dive bar in Thailand. His new master is teaching him a lesson in Muay Thai by getting him drunk and asking him to cut a rug. It doesn’t make much sense in context of the movie, either, but who cares? It gets Van Damme on the damn dance floor, and that’s all you need to know!
As the funky smooth rock ‘n’ soul sounds of Beau Williams’ “Feeling So Good Today” blares (this song is 100% the summertime banger you’ve been waiting for), Van Damme gingerly approaches the dance floor… and then he lets the music get into him. You see it, right? The build-up to that handclap–and once those hands clap, he knows and you know that it is on. Things are about to get funky.
Oh–and I have to point out that while the moves you’re about to see are more than enough to make this the greatest scene in ’80s cinema, the fact that Van Damme gets stanky while wearing the widest, pleat-iest khakis found in your dad’s closet and what I can only describe as a spandex suspenders/tank-top aerobics set just makes this worthy of being preserved by the National Film Registry for its cultural significance.
So anyway, Van Damme is feeling the rhythm. Specifically, he’s feeling the rhythm with his hands and his hips, as seen in this tight little shimmy.JCVD is all about the contained grindage, keeping his handclaps close and his gyrations closer. But when he wants to cut loose? Boy, he cuts loose!
Yeah, boy, shake that booty! It’s in there somewhere underneath what are surely massive, massive pockets. That GIF is almost a reverse Roxbury; he’s one guy in the middle trying his hardest to booty-bounce the women flanking him. Jean-Claude is a dance innovator.
But if you think you’ve seen him cut loose, uh-uh! You have not! Cut loose, Van Damme!Look at him go–and more importantly, look at that face! We all assume that Jean-Claude is happiest when he’s satiating his thirst for vengeance in the ring or bedding a smoking hot international journalist. Turns out, he’s not. He’s happiest in that GIF above, twirling and stretching and squatting. Do they bestow knighthood upon exceptional individuals in Belgium? Shouldn’t the grace and power of this GIF earned Van Damme the title of Sir?
But still, somehow, you ain’t seen nothing yet–because Van Damme’s gotta walk it out!He’s a superstar stunner doing a victory jig down the smallest, least enthusiastic Soul Train Line ever. Also this GIF captures Van Damme’s signature move: the downward-facing, all-smiles, elbow squat strut.
Okay, I lied. That’s not his signature move. We all know what Jean-Claude’s signature move is, and you best believe he saved the best for last.Like every single Drag Race queen ever, Van Damme knows when to bust out the splits for maximum effect! It’s also here in this one GIF that suddenly those dumpy khakis look… uh… suddenly alluring. That is the power of dance!
Lest you forget that you’re watching a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, Kickboxer knows that it’s time to toss in some real danger into this routine. You can’t catch Kurt Sloane off guard!
And thus endeth the routine. Kurt Sloane’s learned how to… uh, you know, he hasn’t learned much! I guess he’s learned that he can still kick ass while drunk and dancing. Honestly, that’s a valuable lesson that Kurt Sloane needed to learn, Jean-Claude Van Damme needed to learn, and every single film historian needed to learn. There’s nothing that the Muscles from Brussels can’t accomplish if there’s a jukebox blasting and a move to bust.
Obviously you should watch all of Kickboxer right now, but here’s the full scene since I know you’re going to need to study this in order to learn all the moves in time for wedding season.