Jean-Claude Van Damme Is at Cannes to Talk About His Kickboxing Comeback
May 13, 2010
Why is Cannes so special? Because it's the kind of place where you can get dressed up in a dapper tuxedo and attend the opening-night party for the elite Cannes Film Festival, and there Jean-Claude Van Damme will tell you about his new reality show. That alone is worth the airfare! We bumped into the 50-year-old Muscles from Brussels at the gala, where he talked about the new series he's doing for British TV that he describes as The Osbornes meets Bloodsport: He will be filmed getting back into face-kicking shape and then fighting Thai kickboxing champ Somluck Kamsing in October. Says Van Damme: "It’s going to be like Hollywood versus reality.” Wham bam, merci, Van Damme!
So what is this show exactly?
[When I was younger] I was doing karate and dreaming about movies. And the dream came true, but I always missed that martial-arts type of experience, the fight. But it’s become so sophisticated today that I want to go backwards and learn, but I am 50 years old — I have some problems with knees and hips.
How old is your opponent?
I’m 50 and the guy’s 36, also with a gold medal in the Olympics. He has many, many fights in muay thai [kickboxing]. We’re going to put this all together … It will be in Vegas or in Dallas, and I will be followed by a TV show, from me going down to 75 kilos and living the movie-star type of life, to one month later, sleeping by nine, staying home.
Are you training now?
No. If I train too long at my age, you peak at around four months of training. If you train too long, it will wear out the joints. He’s almost fifteen years younger, a different type of anatomy and metabolism, so he will have to train for six months. Somluck has 200 fights in muay thai — kicking, low kicks, elbows, very strong.
Are you trying to prove something to critics of your fighting?
Some people will come to see me fall, but I want to prove that I can bring a certain validity to the ring. I will not fall so easily.
And what will the show look like?
It’s divided into three pieces: a movie documentary explaining my life, from the bottom to the top of the rock-and-roll life and back all the way to training for a championship fight. It’s going to be a big fight. I’ll go to a camp and train — and we’ll have my family around me like The Osbornes.
And do you have a strategy for how you’ll beat Somluck?
I cannot reveal my secret for how to try to win. But I can’t go into the corner with him because he is too good with his fists. I have to use my legs; I am very good with my legs, like in Blood sport.
Jean-Claude Van Damme