Friday, August 11, 2017

Movie Review: "Lady Bloodfight" (2016)

Director: Chris Nahon
Year: 2016
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

An American woman goes to Hong Kong to compete in the Kumite. Once there, she is taken under the wing of a former competitor who trains her in order to settle a beef with an old rival.

"Lady Bloodfight" is a loose reimagining of the 1988 Jean Claude Van Damme classic "Bloodsport." It is directed by Chris Nahon, whose other directorial credits include "Kiss of the Dragon" and "Blood: The Last Vampire." It stars stuntwoman Amy Johnston as Jane, a waitress trained in martial arts. She wants to go to Hong Kong and compete in the Kumite because her father disappeared after going to compete in the same tournament many years earlier. About a year before Jane's arrival, two women named Shu and Wai, played by Murial Hofman and Kathy Wu, competed in the Kumite to a draw. The two had an existing disagreement and were told to settle it in a unique way. Each of them must train a student to represent them in the following year's Kumite. Shu chooses Jane, and Wai chooses a young rebel named Ling, played by Jenny Wu.

We didn't know that this movie was inspired by the martial arts classic "Bloodsport." So when the characters started talking about competing in the Kumite, we perked up a bit. Now that we have seen this movie, we must say the writing here isn't quite as nuanced and the characters are not as well developed as the movie that inspired it. If you've ever watched the original, you will know it didn't set high bars in those aspects of storytelling, but this retelling still fails to reach that very low bar. That being said, "Lady Bloodfight" is still pretty fun in an "it's so ridiculously cheesy, I am enjoying myself" sort of way. There are a few scenes in this movie that feel directly ripped from other martial arts films like "The Karate Kid" and "Kickboxer." The fight scenes are fun at times and implausible at others. Most of the fights end when one woman knocks their opponent out of the ring.

As for the characters, well, Jane isn't the unstoppable force that Frank Dux was. She's more like Rocky, a rough and tumble brute whose best attribute is that she can take a beating. There isn't really a clear villain here. There is the scary, mean woman opponent with the scar on her face and a perma-scowl across her mouth, but she isn't the main antagonist. She is simply one of the many opponents Jane must go through to attain the "w." Jane's main rival isn't villainous at all, so when the final showdown finally comes, we don't really care who wins the battle. When there's no fighting going on, there are a bunch of subplots that just don't work in the context of the story. Several plot points feel forced into the film in an effort to make it longer, and a lot of the additional drama feels unnecessary when a martial arts tournament is plenty dramatic on its own. Also, apparently Kung Fu gives you Jesus-like powers to resurrect the dead and mend broken bones, so there's that! The more you know.

While we fully admit that "Lady Bloodfight" is a bad movie full of terrible acting and a complete mess of a story, it's still a good watch because it is so bad. If you're into martial arts movies, you might find a little bit of absurd joy in this one.


My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~40%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this, personally. Sure, the acting is inconsistent in places, the plot can be a bit melodramatic, but this is not a bad film. The combat is rough and convincing, mixed with just a tinge of wu shu magic. The central dynamic between, well, some of the primary characters sneaks up on you, and is well developed. (I don't want to give too much away.) And I enjoyed the fact that the antagonists of the film, other than one over the top fighter, were more well rounded characters than you usually see in a an underground fight tournament film, with believable motivations and pitfalls. The heroes and villains blur the lines of what you expect in ways you don't typically see. From a more technical point of view, it's very well shot, well choreographed, with convincing, detailed makeup and effects, on par with what you'd see in a theatrical release, sometimes beyond that. As a martial arts film enthusiast, I give it 7.5/10. Well worth the watch, and I commend the filmmakers and cast on a job well done.

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