Tom Jolliffe looks back at the film feud to end them all: Seagal vs valve Damme…

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Two males chased and also nipped in ~ the heels of Stallone and also Schwarzenegger. Together Arnold and also Sly started misfiring with ill-conceived comedies, Jean-Claude valve Damme and also Steven Seagal were threatening come elbow a placing in ~ the earth Hollywood table. By the moment Van Damme was knocking out hefty hitters prefer Universal Soldier and Timecop, and Seagal was moving from his mega hit Under Siege (notable as lot for its excellent duo of villains in Gary Busey and Tommy Lee Jones as it was for Seagal himself) to his large budget directorial debut On fatal Ground, the pair were a solid an option or 2 away indigenous usurping Arnold and also Sly.

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There had often been a simmering rivalry in between Arnie and Sly which was accentuated in the press as well as sly digs in their respective movies (‘Schwarzenegger was president!!’) yet that was nothing contrasted to the 2 in your wake. In the finish On deadly Ground, Seagal’s ego drenched and also subtlety cost-free eco-ego pic, bombed and Van Damme, by the mid-90’s to be making negative choices (including his very own ill-fated directorial debut, The Quest). Still, once both to be in your prime and also at their optimal popularity the rivalry in between the pair to be intense. From van Damme’s next there was a straightforward quiet dismissal and also catty comment whenever asked around Seagal ago then. From Seagal’s allude of view, at any time the topic of the Belgian come up, the solution was pure vitriol.

Seagal would, through regularity, on talk show circuits or media interviews, belittle van Damme as a movie star and an ext so, as a martial artist. In fairness, the patent Seagal struggle sequence during those peak years had a rough, grounded and also ruthlessly efficient toughness, that differed substantially from the balletic and practically overly pretty valve Damme struggle sequences. There was a certain repetition and formula come the valve Damme fight. Enemies would stand and wait to be kicked in the face. In a Seagal hit sequence, he would certainly repel a barrage the attacks and opponents wouldn’t constantly wait one in ~ a time. What looked more realistic? Well also as someone with a van Damme choice over Seagal, the classic Seagal movie fights looked more ‘authentic.’ Movies no always around the ‘authentic’ though. Still…it was leading Seagal to openly inquiry Van Damme’s real life credentials. Seagal wouldn’t be the first, nor last either. Questioning Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson, a renowned people Champion Kickboxer turned activity star who famously tested Van Damme come a fight (Van Damme declined).


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Rumours were rife that Seagal challenged Van Damme come a fight, that declined, and also indeed evil versa the on one chance at a party hosted by cracked Stallone, the Seagal make a hasty exit upon hear JCVD had turned up wanting to square increase (which Stallone himself claimed).

By the mid-90’s both men had similar reputations on set as being challenging to job-related with and also as being an especially rough on stunt men. Their backgrounds were really different. Van Damme concerned America v no money and also through force of will certainly forged self a break (Bloodsport) and began significantly rising through incrementally enlarge projects. Seagal, an Aikido master, among the couple of westerners to study and attain his rank in Japan, was somewhat an ext mysterious (rumours of him being connected in the CIA were much fetched but he had actually a mythos). Seagal had actually made a few connections v his Martial art dojo. That instructed James shortcut himself, Sean Connery (breaking Connery’s wrist throughout the shoot for Never Say never Again). Those film connections bring about him being offered a how amazing amount of an imaginative control because that his debut Above The Law. This to be a Warner Bros. Picture with a climbing director (Andrew Davis, who would later make The Fugitive) and also moderate budget. Whilst valve Damme climbed through smaller companies prior to hitting the biggies, Seagal fight the ground to run (and didn’t his ego just know it!).

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Both increased to their heights by adhering to formula. A van Damme film, albeit through some riffs here and there, and occasionally a high concept (Universal Soldier, Timecop), to be pretty formulaic. Seagal to be even more formulaic. ~ Above The Law, a slew of nearly interchangeable (but enjoyable) actioners, Hard to Kill, Out because that Justice and Marked for Death would result in Under Siege (which is Seagal’s monster hit and remains his finest all ring work).

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Even well past their respective top years and also deep right into their video market put there’s still the animosity. Valve Damme has seemingly moved to quell that somewhat, but Seagal has actually often uncovered it hard to withstand a dig, or quickly dismissed the subject and also moved on. There is no love lost. In the end, who had the more prolific career? Both males would insurance claim to have won the battle, though Van Damme having an ext prolifically churned out rewarding films earlier in the 80’s as much as mid 90’s probably has the ideal case. Indeed, as actors, whilst van Damme has actually honed his craft and sought to enhance immeasurably over the year (best denote in JCVD or much more recently, The Bouncer), Seagal has never appeared to develop, merely shedding enthusiasm with every pass year. Definitely in that auspicious debut there to be a charisma and also command and naturalism that said Seagal (albeit breaking out not far off hitting 40) could become an exciting performer. It never ever happened.

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Both males in their prime…who wins the fight? Who had the better film career? allow us know in the comments below or on our social channels
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