Bloodsport is, by some margin, the best film Jean-Claude Van Damme ever made and that’s no faint praise either. Van Damme’s ’80s and early ’90s output was excellent and far better (in our opinion) than Steven Seagal whose Aikido style just didn’t translate well to the big screen.
It’s also the one of the best movies of all time. Well, the best fight flick. Apart from Enter The Dragon which is the ultimate king of everything. Although in a few ways (editing, use of Forrest Whittaker, using proper voices) it may be better. But it is certainly the best film to ever survive being quite this daft.
The film focuses on the (apparently completely made up delusional) story of Frank Dux, a real-life martial artist, and his efforts to win the Kumite, a secret and deadly tournament held in Hong Kong.
In the movie, Dux skips out on his job as a US Army captain and is followed around by a couple of military police officers who try to nab him before he gets himself killed inbetween the film’s various fight scenes that feature a varied group of martial artists.
It went on to directly inspire the UFC as well as the videogames Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat and no film has come close to matching its intensity and utter ridiculousness. But that’s not why it’s the best.
1. Bolo. The mighty Bolo Yeung, best known for being TERRIFYING in Enter the Dragon (before getting kicked to death in the nuts by John Saxon), is in fine form here as the brutal Kumite champion Chong Li.
He’s put on about 100 pounds of pure muscle here since ‘Dragon and is just as merciless and scary as ever. This is particularly evident in the scene where he breaks some guy’s leg just because he feels like it and kills a guy with literally no consequences.
2. Hilarious ninja training. After getting the ‘wax on, wax off’ treatment. Young Van Damme is eventually shown how to be the best ninja ever. By making tea blindfolded while being punched.
The entire training montage is beyond hilarious to be honest. Especially the bit where he’s tied to trees and then hulks out.
3. Ray Jackson. A fat biker with zero muscle tone and a fighting technique that involves running forwards at people? See how far that gets you in the UFC, or indeed any situation you can ever conceive. He is hilariously terrible! Eventually he gets found out when he attempts to showboat against a deceptive Chong Li who brains him and puts him in intensive care where he belongs.
4. You know what? None of the fighting makes any sense. It’s BRILLIANT! The daft sumo wrestler (they had a sumo wrestler in UFC once and he got kicked in the head immediately). The even dafter bloke doing a made up monkey style that’s based on hitting coconuts apparently. It’s all ridiculous. Not to mention the two kung fu fighters. There’s a reason you don’t see kung fu in the UFC.
5. Van Damme does the splits about a million times in this movie. He’s most remembered for the splits he pulls when he punches the sumo guy in the cock (a move that was digitised for Johnny Cage’s move set in Mortal Kombat) but he does it all over the place in the film. For no real reason. Totally unnecessary but classical Van Dammage!
6. Paco. God damn it, Paco is KING. A legit Muay Thai expert in real life, he brings some much-needed realism to the fighting. Except for the super daft bit where he trades full on body kicks with Van Damme before getting knocked out.
7. Karate Champ! No, not Van Damme with his many karate accolades but rather the fabby 1984 arcade fighting game. It’s one of our favourites.
8. Dim mak. The death touch. Do a palm strike on a brick and it explodes. Brilliant! And complete bollocks. Still it does set up a fun scene where Van Damme gets called ‘that prick who does tricks with bricks.’
9. The scene where Van Damme is blinded is comedy gold! Firstly, how does no-one notice the cloud of deadly talcum powder that comes out of Bolo’s hand? Then, why doesn’t the fake Mo Farah referee stop the fight when it is clear that Dux is blinded? Why doesn’t Dux say anything? Why does Dux put his hands up to either side and start shouting? How does Bolo even lose that fight? It’s the best thing ever!
10. The whole story is apparently bollocks. Frank Dux apparently didn’t do any of this stuff at all and has been completely discredited. Fab. He’s even dafter than the movie! That said, everyone knows his name. We even know how to pronounce it thanks to this guy.