Dir: Newt Arnold, 1988
Allegedly based on a true story, Bloodsport is the film that introduced the world to martial arts superstar, Jean-Claude Van Damme.
The Muscles from Brussels displays his skills of athletic prowess and mastery, firmly cementing his place as an action star of the 1990’s.
Van Damme is American(!) army captain Frank Dux. An expert in martial arts, Dux enters a secret, and illegal, martial arts contest called the Kumite in Hong Kong.
Dux is followed by two US police officers, Helmer and Rawlins, intent on arresting him for deserting the army.
The martial arts is good. Everything else is crap. Bloodsport has some of the most atrocious acting you will ever see. How anyone could ever think, even for a second, that Van Damme would be a good choice is beyond me. With an incredibly strong FRENCH accent, he is not in the slightest bit believable as an American army captain. And as for the young actor who portrays him in flashbacks….well, least said, the better.
The veracity of Dux’s claims is uncorroborated. Nobody can find any evidence of the Kumite ever existing and the American’s claims are met with cynicism.
Distributed by the Cannon Company, Bloodsport bears all the hallmarks of a typical Golan/Globus film; laughable script and poor acting.
However, the scenes of the Kumite are pretty good and offer plenty of excitement which is all the audience want.
Being an eighties action movie, there’s a level of homoeroticism at play, here. The friendship between Dux and his friend, Ray (Donald Gibb), is a bit of an eyebrow raiser.
Yet, the best thing about Bloodsport is the casting of Bolo Yeung. Most famous for starring opposite Bruce Lee in Enter The Dragon, Young (aka Yang Tze) is a formidable enemy and outshines the rest of the cast. He even gets to have a nice callback to his earlier film.
So, yes, Bloodsport is terrible but it does have a charm and a certain amount of enjoyment can be derived from the film in a “so bad it’s good” way.
Watchable, but no work of art.