Saturday, April 29, 2017

Movie Review: "Bloodsport" (1988)

Director: Newt Arnold
Year: 1988
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

Army captain Frank Dux goes AWOL in order to compete in an underground full contact martial arts tournament in Hong Kong known as the Kumite in order to honor his Shidoshi Senzo Tanaka.

"Bloodsport" is directed by Newt Arnold, who has helmed films like "Blood Thirst" and "Hands of a Stranger." He has also been an assistant director of films like "The Godfather: Part II" and "Blade Runner." The screenplay is said to be based on the true story of the real Frank Dux, though this has been called into question by some who claim Dux made it all up. It stars Jean Claude Van Damme as Frank Dux himself, an Army captain who goes AWOL so he can compete in an underground full-contact mixed martial arts tournament known as the Kumite. Also in the film are Roy Chao, who plays Frank's Shidoshi Senzo Tanaka; Donald Gibb, who plays Dux's new friend and fellow fighter Ray Jackson; Bolo Yeung as reigning Kumite champ and antagonist Chong Li; Leah Ayers as reporter Janice Kent; and Norman Burton and Forest Whitaker as MPs Helmer and Rawlins. 

At its core, "Bloodsport" is a basic low budget sports movie. The sport in question is, as we mentioned above, full contact martial arts, similar to what can be seen in MMA events like the UFC. It runs down the tried and true sports film formula beat by beat, including a quick introduction of the competitors Dux and others may face, a training montage towards the beginning of the film, some scenes of the actual competition with yet another montage which leads the audience to the big final match between Frank and Chong Li. Interwoven between these montages and fight scenes is a basic story mostly surrounding the MPs search for and attempted apprehension of Frank Dux, as well as a very forced, very generic, very wedged-in love story between Dux and Janice Kent in order to add some drama and in an attempt to elevate the story beyond dudes kicking each others asses. There is some character building of Dux and his fellow American competitor Ray Jackson, who Donald Gibb makes extremely likable by delivering some of the best and most humorous lines in the movie. Don't mistake us, the acting is not good, but it's corny, and that's enough for us. 

In the end, "Bloodsport" is one of our favorite guilty pleasure movies. It's got a bunch of kick ass (but also sort of terrible??) fight scenes, cheesy slow motion fight scenes, and jumping spin kicks, and it fully delivers in the martial arts aspect. The soundtrack is wicked, and though the acting is pretty terrible, it still maintain its charm. Van Damme is legendary, and this is one of his best, most fun movies.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 33%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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