Mac's excellent bruce lee memorial thread has inspired me to pen a tribute to the only screen performer in history who can match his intensity: Jean claude van Damme. Jean claude van damme was born Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg on october the 8th 1960. The decision to name him jean has been made early on in the pregnancy. His mother somehow sensed that her child would be of fantastic strength and decided that giving him an effete name would perhaps limit the intimidation he would inspire in others and soothe his demeanour. When he was born after pummelling his way through his mother's uterus the anxious parents immediately decided to add claude, camille, and francois to his name, but it was of no use. No amount of fey names could diminish either the terror he inspired or the animal spirit that dwelled within him. Jean claude van damme would have many obstacles on his journey to becoming the biggest bad ass in the history of the universe - a poor upbringing, home problems, being belgian - but ultimately he would best them all. From a young boy jean-claude harboured the dream of one day kicking two people in the face simultaneously. It was this dream that lead him to invent the splits, a physical feat which had hitherto not been accomplished and which he went on to display in several of his films, even drama's(Van damme has in fact published an influential article entitled 'The Splits and Shakespeare' in an academic journal which discusses the role of the splits in drama. It remains the only article in that journal to have been published without being subjected to peer review after the editors decided that jean claude van damme has no peers) After growing weary of beating random people senseless with a graceful style that juxtaposed the height of beauty with the most savage of brutality he tried his hand at fighting professionally. Unsurprisingly his fight record record matches his perfectly toned buttocks, it has but one hole. After winning the karate middle weight champion and going on to win his first 12 kickboxing bouts by knockout, jean claude van dammes perfect record was sabotaged by an industry conspiracy that counts as one of the greatest injustices to ever stain sport. Members of kickboxing's official body had been frightened by van dammes talk to eventually start his own fighting league where competitors fought the ancient way. They concluded, not unreasonably, that if he continued his meteoritic rise that the reputation he would gain for himself would see his fight league dominate and potentially destroy the sport of kickboxing. It was this that saw them declare van damme's last fight a 'loss' despite jean claude van damme having knocked out his opponent in the first second of the bout. The masterminds of this conspiracy are all now missing, presumed dead or shook pussies. Dispirited by the politics of professional fighting he turned his eyes to the movies. His break into the movies didnt take long. In fact it took but one kick to smash open the doors of the studio plot and for van damme to threaten the cast that were shooting a remake of treasure island into a change of creative vision that saw that production become 'No retreat, no surrender'. Jean claude van dammes feature debut and what is in van damme's estimation, and therefore history's, the first action film ever.(some critics have pointed out that van damme starred in 4 films prior to no retreat, no surrender and therfore he is wrong to claim it as his first movie. Those critics all retracted their claims in their typed suicide notes before violently kicking themselves to death. One of those critics wrote poignantly to his children in the note "Je suis le massive idiot to criticise JC! I am sorry to my bastard children for being stupid bum to criticise the great actor JC! I must kick myself to death now, au revoir") After several hugely succesful action films van damme shot his first documentary, 'Timecop'. Although at first taken as fictional by movie goers van damme argued convincingly that the proof of the films veracity lay in it being the only possibly scenario which could explain van damme starting the 80's trend for perms in his film 'hard target' since hard target was made in 1993. The film won massive critical acclaim and began a move to more thoughtful and introspective films for van damme. Films like 'sudden death', 'maximum risk', and the dennis rodman starring 'double team' which won that years cannes award for best jean claude van damme movie. Although now 48 age hold know worries for van damme(it was he who originated the now famous epigram 'FUCK AGE'). He continues to delight audiences the world over with his athleticism, grace, charm and displays of erratic behaviour and unprovoked violence on a massive scale. Long may it continue.