Jean-Claude Van Damme is set to retire after his upcoming movie What’s My Name?, and there are several strong contenders for his returning villains. The spin-kicking Jean-Claude Van Damme first broke out in the late ’80s with B-movie hits like No Retreat, No Surrender, and later Bloodsport. Van Damme gradually grew into a bonafide action star in the ’90s, and while his career waned at the end of the decade, he made a significant comeback in the 21st century with hits like JCVD, The Expendables 2, and the last two Universal Soldier movies.
For What’s My Name?, Van Damme will reportedly portray a version of himself grappling with the challenges of his success. After being struck by a car, the accident leaves Van Damme’s character stricken with amnesia. Van Damme has spoken of the film as a trip down memory lane of sorts for his career in multiple ways.
Lundgren is one of the villain candidates for What’s My Name? mentioned in the Deadline announcement, and the idea makes a lot of sense. Van Damme and Lundgren’s on-screen history stretches back to 1992’s Universal Soldier, with the two returning to their Unisol rivalry with Universal Soldier: Regeneration and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning. In the lead-up to the first Universal Soldier, the duo even staged a fake Van Damme-Lundgren feud as a riff on their roles as Luc Deveraux and Andrew Scott. Van Damme and Lundgren have also appeared together in action movies The Expendables 2 and Black Water, so their long-running association would make Lundgren an ideal villain for a meta-conclusion to Van Damme’s career. Lundgren’s massive height has also made him a very imposing enemy to not just Van Damme but also to others like Scott Adkins, Tony Jaa, and Jet Li. This makes another Van Damme-Lundgren showdown that much more enticing.
Also mentioned in the Deadline article as potentially appearing in What’s My Name?, Bolo Yeung was one of Van Damme’s most memorable villains right from the start in 1988’s Bloodsport. The movie was both Van Damme’s big break and built upon Yeung’s accrued reputation from Enter the Dragon as a fearsome antagonist with muscles on top of muscles. Many of the most quoted lines of the entire Bloodsport franchise were heard through Yeung’s performance as Chong Li, including “You are next!” and “You break my record. Now I break you, like I break your friend!” Van Damme and Yeung would later do battle again in the 1991 action movie Double Impact, as well. With What’s My Name? looking back on Van Damme’s career for his last hurrah, Bolo Yeung returning for a trifecta of Van Damme villain performances is a no-brainer.
Another old-school Van Damme opponent was also name-dropped by Deadline for What’s My Name?, specifically Michel Qissi of Kickboxer. Following the success of Bloodsport, Van Damme’s 1989 follow-up Kickboxer put him up against another unforgettable villain in Muay hai fighter Tong Po. Qissi’s vicious performance as Tong Po made the antagonist an immediate equal of Chong Li. While not as flashy as Van Damme, Qissi’s Tong Po is still a compelling presence like the Predator Van Damme almost embodied, and one who could deliver a chilling villainous scowl with the best of them. A reunion of Van Damme and Michel Qissi for What’s My Name? would bring the exact hit of nostalgia for Van Damme’s long career that the movie is meant to harken back to.
If there’s one individual who is a shoo-in for the villain of What’s My Name?, it’s Scott Adkins. With his astonishing abilities as a martial artist and roles like Yuri Boyka in the Undisputed series and many other action films, Adkins essentially stands as Van Damme’s successor in the modern straight-to-video action era. Adkins and Van Damme’s collaborations also include The Shepherd: Border Patrol, Assassination Games, The Expendables 2, and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning. In a swan song movie that’s based around the legacy of Van Damme’s career, Adkins making a villain appearance would tie the bow on that beautifully. Even better, Adkins as a villain of What’s My Name? could have a double-whammy effect as a notch in Scott Adkins’ own action hero legacy alongside Van Damme’s.
Michael Jai White
Michael Jai White is another modern action hero with his own history in Van Damme’s career legacy. After a minor appearance in 1992’s Universal Soldier, White returned seven years later as the villainous A.I.-powered UniSol S.E.T.H. in Universal Soldier: The Return. White’s performance as S.E.T.H. was the highlight of the movie, and his and Van Damme’s final showdown delivered a martial arts battle with each at the top of his respective game. White has since portrayed both heroes and villains alike in action movies like Blood & Bone, Accident Man, Triple Threat, and the Never Back Down MMA series. With Van Damme preparing to bow out with What’s My Name?, Michael Jai White would make a charismatic and formidable villain in Van Damme’s career-ender.
Daniel Bernhardt has built a big name for himself in action movies with his appearances in John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Skylines, and Nobody, but his career beginnings linked him to Van Damme through Bernhardt’s role in anchoring all three sequels in the Bloodsport franchise. Additionally, Bernhardt has also been noted for his strong physical resemblance to Van Damme, while his flexibility and kicking skills have also earned him similar comparisons. While he is deservedly more recognized on his own merit in contemporary culture, Bernhardt and Van Damme’s shared Bloodsport connection would make for a perfect meta hero-villain showdown.
Alain Moussi has performed stunts in numerous films such as Immortals, Suicide Squad, and Nobody, while he first broke to mainstream attention with the 2016 martial arts movie Kickboxer: Vengeance. A remake of Van Damme’s 1989 movie Kickboxer, Vengeance saw Moussi assume Van Damme’s original role of Kurt Sloan, with Van Damme himself in the Muay Thai mentor role of Durand. Both Moussi and Van Damme returned for the 2018 sequel Kickboxer: Retaliation, with both movies showing Moussi as a capable physical lead. Moussi would also headline the sci-fi martial arts film Jiu Jitsu in 2020 and continues to be a rising action star. Having worked with Van Damme in the Kickboxer reboot movies, Moussi would make another great candidate for the villain of Van Damme’s meta-final action movie in What’s My Name? while flipping their previous ally dynamic.
Jean-Claude Van Damme
While there are many great villain possibilities for What’s My Name?, Jean-Claude Van Damme might also be his own best enemy for it with his history of dual roles. Van Damme’s 1991 action movie Double Impact had him playing antagonistic twin brothers forced by fate to become friends, while Replicant also saw Van Damme as a clone fighting his serial killer original. Aside from playing two roles in one movie, Van Damme’s performance in JCVD had the same semi-autobiographical approach as What’s My Name? seems to be going for. Van Damme even proposed an Expendables 4 return as Claude Vilain, the twin brother of his antagonist Jean-Vilain. If What’s My Name? is to end Van Damme’s action movie career on a note of self-reflection and legacy, having Van Damme in the paired role of hero and antagonist could be just what the doctor ordered for this last ride.
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