* * *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.
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