We all know about that Jean-Claude Van Damme movie The Monk which never came to fruition but one project I’d totally forgotten about was a movie called The Smashing Machine.
According to FanDamme JCVD was to star alongside some of the biggest names in mixed martial arts in the story of a young champion who helps a has-been return to former glories. The movie was set to start shooting in July 2007 with real-life Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) champions for producer Moshe Diamant, director Simon Fellows (UNTIL DEATH) and production companies Signature Pictures and Foresight Unlimited.
Due to creative differences the movie was cancelled. Apparently this isn’t actually Van Damme’s fault. Sheldon Lettich, director and friend of JCVD confirms: “Jean-Claude was not happy with a lot of the production choices that were being made. I do want people to know that Jean-Claude felt he had some very solid and compelling reasons for making the decision he made. Please, don’t blame him. He has not burned bridges with guys like Fedor, Cro Cop any of these guys. Believe me, they’re not blaming him.”
However, Arrow’s Manu Bennett tells a different story; according to Cinema Blend, “Bennett met with producers of The Smashing Machine, and they hired him to play a lead character who battled steroid problems. Not wanting to let anyone down, he decide to jump in as aggressively and recklessly as possible. Bennett started working out twice a day with a former Mr. Australia and he began experimenting with the same banned substances his character did. In three months, he gained 44 pounds and arrived on set looking like a Greek God, much to the delight of producers and allegedly, much to the fury of Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Speaking to Men’s Journal, Manu Bennett claims Van Damme took one look at the pre-production photographs he’d taken and suddenly decided the movie was no longer a good idea. So, The Smashing Machine was cancelled.
“He’d seen a picture of me, and I was absolutely pumped, and he was not in the best shape of his life at that time. This fuck-up just thinks of himself. He looks at this photo of me and feels egotistically challenged.”
He doesn’t exactly mix words there…. *shuffles awkwardly*
One of the other cancelled projects of JCVD was called Kumite which I also remember from a few years back; apparently Jean Claude Van Damme was set to play the only westerner to ever win the Championship of the Kumite, returns to defend his title after years of alcoholism and despair, overcoming great odds to achieve greater glory. This sounds like something he would have been perfect for and could have been a proper sequel to Bloodsport.
Anyone have more gossip on these cancelled projects? I love hearing stories about what could have been…