Why Jean-Claude Van Damme Didn’t Return For Kickboxer 2
Jean-Claude Van Damme did not return to play Kurt Sloane in Kickboxer 2. Van Damme, however, did later return to the Kickboxer franchise.
Actor and martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme did not return to play Kurt Sloane in Kickboxer 2. This was a surprising choice for many action fans, as the first Kickboxer was among the first starring roles for The Muscles From Brussels after working on stunt teams for Chuck Norris, and as an extra, throughout the 1980s. Jean-Claude Van Damme was even the first choice to portray the titular character in Predator before ultimately being replaced by Kevin Peter Hall due to his reservations about only being seen onscreen in the Predator suit.
Kickboxer was not only one of the films that catapulted JCVD to stardom, but has also become an iconic meme in its own right. The moment in question involves Van-Damme’s Kurt Sloane dancing like nobody’s watching after his master instructs him to so that he can observe Sloane’s balance. With impressive moves such as his, it is disappointing that Van Damme did not return to bust another move in Kickboxer 2.
The reason that Jean-Claude Van Damme didn’t return to play Kurt Sloane in Kickboxer 2 was that he wanted to distance himself from the martial arts subgenre at that point in his career in 1991. JCVD, influenced by Jeremy Irons’ performance as twin surgeons in David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers, instead took on the dual role of brothers Chad & Alex Wagner in Double Impact. Jean-Claude Van Damme playing twins would then go on to be a staple throughout his career. Van Damme hoped that by taking on such a non-violent role as Chad Wagner in Double Impact would display his range as an actor rather than purely his martial arts abilities. Although JCVD did not return in Kickboxer 2, Kurt Sloane did briefly. Body double Emmanuel Kervyn took over the role and is quickly murdered by Kickboxer’s antagonist Tong Po, kicking off Kickboxer 2’s plot similarly to the original.
Why JCVD Later Returned To The Kickboxer Franchise
Jean-Claude Van Damme, however, would later return to the Kickboxer franchise. Although he skipped out on all of Kickboxer’s original sequels, in favor of projects like Universal Soldier with Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme returned to the franchise with reboot Kickboxer: Vengeance. Producer of Kickboxer: Vengeance, Ted Field, stated that Van Damme’s role as the mentor in the reboot would act as a “passing [of] the torch” of the franchise to the new Kurt Sloane, Alain Moussi.
Although Jean-Claude Van Damme’s disappearance from the Kickboxer franchise is disappointing for fans of both the series and of JCVD’s dancing, it was probably the best move for his career. The Kickboxer sequels were low-budget movies and several went either straight-to-video or straight-to-television over a more typical theatrical release. Although Jean-Claude Van Damme’s presence could have significantly raised Kickboxer 2’s profile, JCVD made it clear at the time that he had no interest in revisiting his early martial arts work in favor of more traditional action fare like Sudden Death and Hard Target.