EXCLUSIVE: More than two decades after Jean-Claude Van Damme split-kicked his way onto the scene, the legacy of the Muscles from Brussels is making a double impact on Hollywood’s action game. Radar Pictures (The Last Samurai, Riddick) has a new vision for Van Damme’s 1989 martial arts actioner Kickboxer, one of two Van Damme reboots in the works around town. The original Bangkok-set pic from Kings Road Entertainment starred Van Damme as Westerner Kurt Sloane, a cornerman who trains in Muay Thai to avenge his brother’s crippling at the hands of a brutal Thai kickboxing champ. Kickboxer arrived a year after Van Damme’s breakthrough in Bloodsport sparking fan debate for decades over which pic is the better JCVD vehicle. (For its money Kickboxer boasted a memorable baddie in Tong Po, the villain who popped up in two of four subsequent sequels.)
Now Radar Pictures aims to reboot the franchise with Hong Kong director Stephen Fung at the helm. Fung’s hot festival run at Venice and Toronto this year landed him representation with Paradigm after his Tai Chi Zero opened atop the Chinese box office. The actor-writer-director is also repped by Principato-Young and is a partner in Diversion Pictures with Hong Kong star Daniel Wu. Jim McGrath and Dimitri Logothetis (Air America) will pen the Kickboxer script, with Logothetis producing alongside Ted Field and Nick Celozzi. Mike Weber and Peter Meyer will exec produce. Casting is underway now eyeing a fall or possible early 2014 start.
Meanwhile, Van Damme’s Bloodsport is getting the remake treatment over at Relativity. V for Vendetta‘s James McTeigue will direct the update with a plot that deviates from the the 1988 original. In that pic Van Damme played American Army officer Frank Dux, whose training in the art of ninjutsu helps him battle Chong Li (Bolo Yeung) in the underground Hong Kong tournament known as the Kumite. Relativity’s version will instead focus on the morally-conflicted life of 21st century mercenaries who clash with the underground world of Brazilian Vale Tudo, the martial arts style used by Donald Gibb’s character in the original film. Robert Kamen wrote the script from a story by Kamen and Phillip Noyce which Craig Rosenberg will rewrite under McTeigue’s guidance. Relativity is producing alongside Edward R. Pressman, Chris Brown, Alberto Lensi, Pictures in Paradises and Trans-American Films International. McTeigue is repped by CAA.