U.S. soldier Frank Dux has come to Hong Kong to be accepted into the Kumite, a highly secret and extremely violent martial arts competition. While trying to gain access into the underground world of clandestine fighters, he also has to avoid military officers who consider him to be AWOL. After enduring a difficult training and beginning a romance with journalist Janice Kent, Frank is given the opportunity to fight. But can he survive?
You told me to use any tactic that works, never to commit yourself to one style, to keep an open mind! Bloodsport is directed by Newt Arnold and written by Christopher Cosby, Mel Friedman and Sheldon Lettich. It stars Jean-Claude Van Damme, Donald Gibb, Leah Ayres, Norman Burton, Forest Whitaker and Bolo Yeung. Music is by Paul Hertzog and cinematography by David Worth. One of the earlier films that made Van Damme into a star, Bloodsport finds Van Damme as real life martial artist Frank Dux. Dux enters into the famed Kumite, a no nonsense tournament in Hong Kong and must overcome various hurdles to hopefully achieve his goals. As is the norm for a Van Damme action movie, particularly where his late 80s and early 90s output is concerned, one has to be prepared for some at best average acting and a flimsy plot. Plot follows a familiar Van Damme trajectory, his character will yearn to overcome adversity, go through a strenuous training programme, meet and make friends and enemies, produce some outstanding martial artistry, and end up in a winner takes all fight for justice, revenge, honour... Away from the seriously great fighting skills showcased by Van Damme and the other martial artists he comes up against, there's not a lot of artistic film making craft on show. But as fans of this sort of stuff will tell you, and I'm one of that number, it matters not, for they deliver exactly what we expect. Great fight choreography, a super Kumite montage, a vile villain who needs his ass kicked, and of course lots of Van Damage as we hurtle towards what we hope will be a triumphant finale. Hooray! Though supposedly based on facts in Frank Dux's life, this has been called into question over the years, so best to just observe it as an energised martial arts film rather than a part biography piece. 7/10
I've been pretty harsh reviewing Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, and even though he is significantly older than me, I have the feeling he can still kick my butt, so maybe I should back off a little. Honestly though, this one is pretty watchable. Make no mistake, it is no Chinatown, but, who cares, it is a fun way to hit all the tropes of the martial arts genre and it does it in a way that you know is going to be copied, even if it was already kind of a copy of Enter the Dragon only without the art. So, what you have is a bloody trope filled film that is fun to watch and vaguely (in the vaguest sense of the word vaguely) based kinda sorta on a true story that one guy said happened and was never really verified. So.... sit back and pop some corn, you'll love this.