Van Damme Vs Seagal: Who Is Bigger? - ManlyMovie

Van Damme Vs Seagal: Who Is Bigger?

seagalvsvandammeLike Sly vs.Arnie, Seagal’s main rival was Van Damme and Van Damme’s main rival was Seagal. Neither quite broke the ‘A-List Action Man’ ceiling. Largely down to both having self destructive egos. Going into this, only movies will be taken into account and their effectiveness by themselves, box office won’t be taken into account and each man will have half-decade ’bouts’ where the number of quality movies will determine a winner or a tie, with the winner coming from the sum of each decade. Off-screen shenanigans won’t be accounted for – I think we can give old Seagal a break today…

1986-1990: Starting Out

This one starts off lopsided, with Van Damme’s career beginning in earnest before Seagal’s. Van Damme has more movies in general, with four of them being ‘good’: Bloodsport (1987), Kickboxer (1989), Death Warrant (1990) and Lionheart (1990). Seagal only manages to get three movies out, Above The Law (1988), Hard To Kill (1990) and Marked For Death (1990), but all three of them are good movies. Bottom line is, though, that Van Damme has four quality movies but also backs them up with lesser movies such as No Retreat, No Surrender (1986) – quite frankly an amazing (unintentional) comed/drinking movie, Black Eagle (1988) and Cyborg (1989).

Winner: Van Damme
1991-1995: In Their Prime

We’re into the swansong era of manly action now. This is where all real action stars, A-List, B-List and below, had their last hurrah before liberalist rot set in. Including Seagal and Van Damme, though I firmly believe these two had the power to actually forcibly keep the genre alive, had their ego’s not got the better of them. Anyway, Seagal again comes out with less movies, but again all of them are good. Out For Justice (1991), Under Siege (1992), On Deadly Ground (1994) and Under Siege 2 (1995). However Van Damme not only comes out with more movies, but a higher volume of quality also. Double Impact (1991), Universal Soldier (1992), Nowhere To Run (1993), Hard Target (1993), TimeCop (1994) and Sudden Death (1995). Van Damme easily outpaces Seagal.

Winner: Van Damme
1996-2000: On The Ropes

1996 seemed to be the death knell for 80s/90s action, or at leas the beginning of it. The next five years would take no prisoners, not even Stallone or Schwarzenegger, so Van Damme and Seagal were no exceptions. They did get some nice movies out though. Seagal starts strong with Executive Decision and The Glimmer Man (1996), following up with Fire Down Below (1997) – just barely a good movie, then disappears into DTV hell forevermore. Van Damme though gets only two good movies out. Maximum Risk and The Quest (1996). Some may argue Double Team (1997) qualifies, but it’s just not a good movie. Van Damme, like Seagal, slides into DTV hell. An attempt to rejuvenate his career with Universal Soldier 2 (1999) fails, the movie is both a turd and financial bomb. It would be his last theatrical run for many years.

Winner: Seagal
2001-2005: DTV Hell

By 2000 the action landscape had changed considerably. All of our favorite stars were struggling not only to draw money, but to produce good movies at all. Only Schwarzenegger had moderate financial success with Terminator 3, but that was still a turd. Van Damme and Seagal could each only produce one ‘good’ movie each in this period. For Seagal it was Exit Wounds (2001), even touted at the time as a comeback. For Van Damme it was In Hell (2003), a DTV fighting movie. Aside from those, it was take your pick from DTV horseshit. Something Seagal has an edge on through sheer hilarity, filling out the ‘so bad it’s good’ category. Van Damme’s were seriously depressing. In the end though, it’s narrowly a tie, with Seagal just missing being the better star.

Winner: Tie
2006-2010: Hopes of Comebacks

By the mid-00s things were depressing indeed. Sly was quiet, Arnold was massaging his own ego by trying to take over the USA and Van Damme and Seagal showed no signs of leaving DTV hell. Further in, there’s a slight pick up. Van Damme comes out of left field with JCVD (2008). Not really an action movie, but a good movie nonetheless. Van Damme follows this up with the brutal Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009), possibly the best DTV ever made. Seagal again is trailing, but does manage to get a big one in at the end with Machete (2010) and his own TV show, Lawman (2009). Seagal nudges it to make it a tie.

Winner: Tie

And now we enter the present. Possibly a more vital time for Seagal as he’s older than Van Damme and may need to choose more wisely. But it seems that it’s Van Damme who is doing that. Seagal, thus far, has had nothing to offer. He turned down The Expendables 2, and he turned down The Expendables 3. Van Damme made a similar mistake, but learned his lesson and accepted a role in The Expendables 2 (2012), this was after he had his own excellent TV show, Behind Closed Doors (2011). Van Damme also has two probable, albeit DTV, winners. Enemies Closer (2013) and Swelter (2014). So Van Damme wins the present and seemingly the future, with Seagal both offering nothing and running out of gas.

Winner: Van Damme

Conclusion: Van Damme Was/Is Bigger Than Seagal

Van Damme, between these two rivals, is and was the bigger star. Even on a financial level, Van Damme drew more money. At the box office he drew $780 million, or $1.6 billion if including both the ensembles Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) and Expendables 2 (2012). Seagal’s box office draw was a total of $584 million or $729 million if including the ensembles Executive Decision (1996) and Machete (2010). At the end of the day, personally, I enjoy the movies of both and again put only their movies against each other, leaving all else that happened off screen (Seagal would lose in that department, too) out of the equation.  Seagal’s best hope now is his alleged theatrical return with Cypher, a long-shot might be that it ignites and final wind for him…


  1. Boatman_90

    February 23, 2015 at 1:07 am

    Thanks night another great read. Definitely van damme even though seagal is hilarious

  2. jim

    February 23, 2015 at 1:43 am

    JCVD is a crackpot classic.It should have re-launched his career but I guess the majors have written him off. Also that tv series might have made him seem a bit of a headcase.I still hope some young turk will do right by Van Damme.In many ways he’s as good as he ever was. Middle age has given him a ravaged authority. Seagal is a harder case. Last night one of our minor channels screened Pistol Whipped during the graveyard shift. It’s an indigestible turd of course and I didn’t watch all of it but dammit, there were a couple of scenes here and there where Seagal was cool and tough the way few others can be.The bastard could still pull it off if he wanted to. Even the weight seemed to work for him. He looked hefty and dangerous. But those scenes only last a minute or so and then you see what an amatuerish job the film is.And he’s done so much worse. Have you all seen this documentary Steven Seagal v Justin Lee Collins?

    • Mucho Macho

      February 23, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      The best Seagal DTV movie is
      “Urban Justice”
      It would have fitted nicely with those in his prime. love it. If u havent seen it, check it out bro.
      i agree with about jcvd ..
      that movie is underrated.
      Van Damme was really good in it.

      • jim

        February 23, 2015 at 3:54 pm

        Will do. I’ve always assumed there is the odd decent movie amongst the steaming piles of shite in the DTV files but who has the patience to sit through thirty crap Seagal flics to fiind one good one?.Fortunately, you’re here to do that for me. Allow me to return the favour. Are you a fan of Michael Madsen? I am. In another era he’d have Mitchum’s career. He has also done his time in the DTV salt mines. Mostly unwatchable junk of course. But check out a film called Vice (2008). A tough noir about bent cops.I liked it. Here’s some links :

        • Mucho Macho

          February 23, 2015 at 9:49 pm

          1) In “Urban Justice” Seagal plays a man who’s son is a cop who gets killed. So Seagal (who has a mysterious background) shows up & rents an apt. In the hood & looks for the man who killed his son. He dont care who ordered the hit or why, he just wants the fucker who pulled the trigger.
          eddie griffin is really effecfive & funny as the villain as well.
          watch it dude
          2) thanx for the recommendation. I love Michael Madsen. Manly, talented actor who’s movies dont represent his talent.
          love him on “Donnie Darco”
          i think i recorded “Vice” .if i have it i never watched it. I’ll look for it. i will try to get to it this week if i have it. I’ll let u know bud

          • jim

            February 24, 2015 at 2:44 am

            I wander endlessly through the parched Madsen DTV deserts so you don’t have to.

          • Mucho Macho

            February 24, 2015 at 4:07 am

            he has done so much shit. That guy is never
            Obviously i have not seen them all..cause he has done like 500 movies but i liked “Outrage” & “The Killing Jar”.
            2 good entertaining B flicks.
            i’ll try to remember what else i have seen him in that i might ive liked.

          • jim

            February 24, 2015 at 9:33 pm

            Have now seen Urban Justice. Hard not to warm to it. Once The Sensei has shared a few brief thoughts on regret,responsibility and even ageing, he gets down to the business at hand which seems to consist of repeatedly kicking guys in the balls,20,30,40 times UNTIL THEY ARE DEAD!.Jesus! What a HORRIBLE way to die !.Imagine being kicked in the BALLS by Steven Seagal until YOU ARE DEAD !! Awful.Just horrible.I can’t think of a worse way to go.I would like to avoid that if I could.And Seagal is FAT AS FUCK in this one!.I’ve never seen him looking worse.Definitely stroke heart attackdiabetes territory.HE IS A FAT FUCKING BASTARD!!….FAT BASTARD SENSEI !!!…..At long last I am beginning to enjoy Seagal’s comic value. His teachings, his violence, his incipient diabetes.It’s a heady brew. All in all, a good find though I thought Eddie Griffin stole the show.A great performance and if there was a line of dialogue worth having,he had it.I loved the scene where Sensei kicks the fat gangbanger in the balls UNTIL HE IS DEAD!.Something horrible and hilarious about watching a very fat man do THAT to another fat bastard.The Sensei is a teacher and a healer and he is most wise.

          • Mucho Macho

            February 24, 2015 at 10:56 pm

            Hahaha. I love “Urban Justice” the sensei’s best dtv!.
            1) Seagal to Trejo:” I believe u & i are the same..a bad man with good intentions”
            ( some deep shit right there)
            -Griffin: ” Man, fuck Santa Claus! He never brought me shit! that’s why i sell dope!”
            -Griffin to gansta in white suit: ” look at look like a tampon”
            -Seagal takes gun from Griffin :” u didn’t kill my son..i got no beef with u”…walks away.
            Griffin:” Now that’s gansta”
            2) this fuckin movie is a must for Seagal fans..i love it!
            3) Sensei aint fat..he big boned😉
            4) glad u liked was released b4 Pistol Whipped.
            5) i still need to watch “Vice” .gonna look for it this week. Just watched “Cold in July” It was fuckin awesome! Night gave it a 9/10
            i just got to it if u haven’t. Don Johnson still a bad ass

          • jim

            February 25, 2015 at 12:36 am

            Johnson is good.He should have had a better shot in the movies.”Dead Bang” (stupid title) and “Hot Spot” were both very watchable and he’s good in them.Check ’em out.

          • Mucho Macho

            February 25, 2015 at 1:05 am

            “Dead Bang” i have on dvd.
            cool action flick.
            & “Hot Spot” well my amigo, that was Jennifer Conelly in her lots of wrist exercises were done watching that movie back in the day

          • jim

            February 25, 2015 at 1:58 am

            Jennifer was too sweet for me.Virginia Madsen as the bad girl was much foxier.In those days I liked my women slutty.Love the last scene in Hot Spot where Johnson realises he’s been played and nearly kills Virginia. Then they drive off over the horizon.Johnson accepts his fate and says ” I found my level” and you hear that brilliant John Lee HookerMiles Davis riff on the soundtrack.A very cool finish.Nothing in “Cold in July” to match that but I thought Johnson and Sam Shepard oozed grizzled authority.I could watch those two all night.

          • Mucho Macho

            February 25, 2015 at 2:03 am

            Virginia Madsen
            So fuckin hot indeed.
            i’m with u on that as well.
            the more the merrier…hahaha.
            But careful..her brother Michael could kill us all!

  3. New_Rodro

    February 23, 2015 at 10:17 am

    Agree. JCVD rules.

    Willis vs Gibson for the next chapter of this section, please. 🙂

  4. Mucho Macho

    February 23, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Who’s bigger Van Damme or Seagal?
    I will say Seagal.
    by 200 pounds

  5. Mucho Macho

    February 23, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    Respect both men.
    They were a huge part of my youth.
    fot that..i will always be grateful. vote is for
    * Van Damme
    overall the better talent & has had better movies overall.

  6. Steve Ward

    February 24, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Disagree Van Damme’s STV career has been mostly watchable. Were as I can’t sit through Segal’s half assed attempts since Exit Wounds.