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Bloodsport (1988) is an interesting bit o’ film, as it is a better Street Fighter II flick than Street Fighter, which shares a star in Jean-Claude Van Damme. Bloodsport, unlike Street Fighter, actually features a fightin’ tourney, full of half-naked, sweaty dudes. Sure, Street Fighter has its share of half-naked sweaty dudes, but they ain’t fighting in a tournament.
If’n it’s fighters going toe to toe and working their way through a crazier bracket than NCAA Basketball could ever hope for, Bloodsport is yer flick. All your really need to know is Bloodsport stars action b-movie favorite, Jean-Claude Van Damme. I could stop there, really, but I won’t.
Van Damme plays Frank Dux, an American who takes part in the underground, and illegal, martial arts tournament called the Kumite (for the Communications majors out there, that’s koo-me-tay, not koo-MITE). An early highpoint of the film is a flashback, which happens in the first, thirty seconds, give or take. We’re treated to a kid playing a young Van Damme, which is all kinds of great. The flashback continues for what feels like 47 minutes, and shows Van Damme growing up and training in the art of Ninjutsu. Van Damme suffers through one of the best training montages of the 1980s, including a scene where he does, brace yerself fellas, a complete split. Yes, with his legs.
There’s plenty of punching, kicking, and yelling to go around. Bloodsport doesn’t really have any dull moments. If someone isn’t yelling, they are punchin’ and or kickin’. Bloodsport is basically a ‘gritty reboot’ of Karate Kid if’n it was directed by guy who made Commando.
Revenge of the Nerds fans take note: Donald ‘Ogre’ Gibb plays Van Damme’s burly buddy. He’s a lovable pit fighter, which is the best kind, really. On the other side of the fighter spectrum is baddie Chong Li, played by the unmistakable Bolo Yeung (who plays a similar role in Enter the Dragon). You may not remember the name, but Yeung is one of those ‘Oh, THAT guy’ actors. And really, if Van Damme ain’t reason enough for you to take a gander at Bloodsport, Bolo Yeung as Chong Li sure as whiskey-fire is—even just to hear him say the classic line, “You break my record, now I break YOU!”
Tiger says, Bloodsport is a must watch for any martial arts movie fan. And for fans of watching guys act uncomfortable when Van Damme does the splits.