Before They Were Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme in “No Retreat, No Surrender”

Many months ago, before I started my “Before They Were Stars” postings, Gill presented an awesome early clip of Jean-Claude Van Damme in some Belgian movie as a homosexual karate expert. After JCVD crossed over from Belgium to Hollywood, his first major role would be in a hilariously bad 1986 film called No Retreat, No Surrender, which is a pretty shameless ripoff of both Rocky and The Karate Kid. The plot involves a kid who’s constantly being picked on by bullies, so he decides to summon the ghost of Bruce Lee to teach him martial arts! No, I’m not making this up! Eventually, this dork winds up getting a climactic fight with JCVD’s character, Ivan Kraschinsky, who’s a pretty blatant clone of Ivan Drago from Rocky IV. This movie is a laugh riot, but you really don’t need to see it after watching this trailer, which pretty much gives away the entire film in chronological order. Would it surprise anyone that the big turning point in the climactic fight involves the hero’s buddy yelling out the movie’s title to motivate him?

BTW, I should also mention that No Retreat, No Surrender may have the most homoerotic training montage in cinema history. Once you reach the 0:43 mark of this clip, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

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