10) Polo Yakur (played by Ivan Kaye) – Assassination Games (2011)
Kicking off our countdown is probably one of the most vile villains to ever grace (or disgrace) a Van Damme film. Veteran British actor Ivan Kaye is repulsive and genuine in his portrayal of Polo Yakur, a Russian gangster hell bent on crucifying both Van Damme for the murder of his brother and Scott Adkins to tie up a loose end.
You have to be one hell of a bad ass to be able to face up against two powerhouse martial arts stars, and while Kaye isn’t an action star or martial artist by any stretch (as far as I know), he is very imposing and threatening in every other way. I mean it, this guy makes Alex De Large look like a school boy chump when it comes to dealing out some extreme ultra violence.
To start with, we learn that Scott Adkins’ character has a wee bit of bloodlust for Yakur on account of him facilitating the gang rape of his wife and leaving her permanently comatose. To make matters worse, Adkins’ character was held down and forced to watch the entire ordeal. Then (spoilers alert people), he slowly tortures Adkins’ only ally when attempting to extract his whereabouts and we see the guy lose an ear by way of Stanley knife. He also butchers a woman and leaves her corpse tied up on a bed for Van Damme’s character to find. These are just a few of the heinous acts he indulges in throughout the film, but you get the picture.
Polo Yakur is the whole package, a seemingly well grounded villain of sorts with a complete indifference to human life (aside from his own brother). He managed to really cheese off the two main stars and by the time the movie is 3/4 done, you’re dying for him to have a slow and painful demise, and that’s when you know Ivan Kaye has delivered a very effective performance. A brilliant casting choice and stand-out performance for an unusually drama-focused and underrated Van Damme film.