10/08/2011

Bloodsport (1988)

Bloodsport (1988)-* * *1\2

Directed by: Newt Arnold

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Donald Gibb, Leah Ayres, Roy Chiao, Forest Whitaker and Bolo Yeung











It’s definitely time we reviewed this classic! As you surely know, Frank Dux (Van Damme) is an “American” martial artist who has gone through rigorous training since he was a kid by his master Tanaka (Chiao). When Frank takes part in the most underground, no-holds-barred, to-the-death fighting tournament in the world, the Kumite, most people try to stop him. That includes love interest Janice Kent (Ayres), and Dux’s army superiors Helmer (Burton) and Rawlins (Whitaker). But Dux becomes buddies with Ray Jackson (Gibb), a charismatic tough man, and they support each other. But will anyone have what it takes to defeat the sinister, murderous fighter Chong Li (Bolo)?

Man, did Cannon really hit one out of the park this time. Not only did it set the careers of Van Damme and Forest Whitaker in motion, it almost singlehandedly set the mold for all the many Punchfighters to come. Of course, to the Bloodsport people, it’s not just fighting, it’s a “martial science”. I guess martial arts are just too lowbrow for them. The Kumite has no weight divisions, so hulking brutes fight against skinny wimps without a second thought. Guys even have quirky, unique styles, and even the “knockoffs” are quality productions - look at Shootfighter (1992). And the “knockoff” even spawned a sequel! Such is the awesome power of Bloodsport.



But they say the word “Kumite” many times, so that’s this movie’s version of Best of the Best 2 (1993)’s constant repetition of the word “Brakus”. When these action movie people come up with a good word, they really don’t let you forget it.

JCVD never gets tired of showing us that he can spread his legs widely (and weirdly), and he has plenty of funny facial expressions. He’s supposed to be American, but his accent is pretty thick - “Belglish” is a bit more like it. He and Ogre have good chemistry together. Sure, Gibb is great, and he brings the movie up, but what would it be like had the role been played by Jack S. Daniels? But Van Damme as the “spiritual warrior” and Gibb as the brash basher is a winning combo.


It’s colorful, it’s fun, it’s entertaining, and it’s fast paced. It also has some great songs and Hong Kong locations. What more could you ask for? Also there are some first-generation tasers on display, as well as other cool 80‘s stuff like the Karate Champ arcade game.

If you haven’t yet, see the much-imitated but never duplicated charm of Bloodsport.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

20 comments:

Dr. Blacksteed said...

My favorite non-action part is when the Asian in the alley says "OK USA!!!"

Direct to Video Connoisseur said...

This is an absolute classic, one I should probably get after myself at some point too. As an aside, remember the scene where Whitaker and the other FBI agent chase JCVD? My buddy and I were like "man, that looks like a Mentos commercial." Turns out someone made it into a Mentos commercial on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_IAb_XmVa8

Ty said...

Haha, that was great! Also when everybody starts chanting "Kumite" towards the end.

MarkusWelby1 said...

Truly another JCVD classic. Unfortunately I have it on pretty good authority that the real Frank Dux was a total prick. It's also quite possible that he lied about even fighting in the Kumite. He's kind of like Vanilla Ice in that respect. His street credit is based on bullshit. Still a fun movie though! Now where's Hard Target!

Ty said...

DTVC: Haha, that commercial was great!

MarkusWelby1: Heard that too! You're right: he is a fake. Bloosport is still a blast to watch. Our Hard Target review is dropping on Oct. 21st.

robotGEEK said...

Wow, there's Van Damme fever all around! I hadn't seen this since it first came out and had no idea Whitaker was even in it! That's awesome! I'll have to check this one out! Good one man, as always!

Ty said...

Thanks, RobotGEEK! We appreciate it. It's easy to forget that Whitaker is in this, because most people saw the movie many years ago before he got famous.

Dr. Blacksteed said...

DTVC - Thank you. I have been trying for years to figure out what that chase scene reminded me of. Who would've thought it was Mentos?

thevideovacuum said...

Kudos. Just kudos. Keep up the greatness. Can't wait to see what JCVD classic you review next.

Ty said...

Thanks! The next review is coming Monday!

Ed said...

This is one of my all time faves. Heck, it's so good I actually can't really write about it. Too much good stuff.

hoaks2 said...

Classic. Good review too. I haven't seen this for years, but it's on my list now.

saturdaynightscreening said...

i am hoping for double team/knock off

Ty said...

Ed: Yeah it would take up too much time and space to list all the awesomeness. Thanks for the comment.

Saturdaynightscreening: Unfortunately, we didn't review those for Van Damme month, but maybe we'll put those on the slate for the future. Stay tuned!

Hoaks2: Thanks! It's definitely worth a re-watch.

Nebular said...

That was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid. Even at 10 I was crazy about martial arts. Great review!

Ty said...

Thanks! Bloodsport is a Van Damme classic. One of his best.

saturday night screening said...

you have no idea how hard i try to get our group to watch a single, let alone two jcvd movies in a row as double feature night. i would love to end with time and tide and make it a jcvd double/tsui hark triple feature.

i also recommend everyone, well action movie lovers to check out time and tide. in addition to being an amazing movie, it also reminds me why i read ebert's reviews. the only blog review i found on the movie is from a wasted life.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0251433/

Ty said...

Tsui Hark is indeed a talented filmmaker, some Van Damme movies are too dumb for double features. For example, you wouldn't want to watch Derailed with Time and Tide.

Roger Renman said...

Bloodsport is an all-time classic. Great music also, songs by Stan Bush, and who can forget the music during the end titles: Kumite, Kumite...

Ty said...

Haha! Kumite! Kumite! This is a classic Van Damme crowd-pleaser.