Culture Magazine

Bloodsport (1988)

By Newguy

logoDirector: Newt Arnold

Writer: Sheldon Lettich, Christopher Cosby, Mel Friedman (Screenplay) Sheldon Lettich (Story)

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Donald Gibb, Leah Ayres, Norman Burton, Forest Whitaker, Roy Chiao, Philip Chan, Pierre Rafini, Bolo Yeung


Plot: Frank Dux has spent most his life being trained by Tanaka to participate in the Kumite, the ultimate martial arts tournament, where participants are seriously injured, even killed. Frank decides to go despite being told by his superiors in the army that he can’t because they need him. Two army officers are sent to get him and the trail leads to Hong Kong but Frank eludes them. While Frank advances, he knows that he may have to face Chong Li, the defending champion, who has killed a few participants.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Secret Fight Club That Everyone Knows About


Story: Bloodsport starts by showing the preparation for the Kumite by showing the competitors practicing.  Frank Dux (Van Damme) a member of the US army goes AWOL from his duty heading for Hong Kong. We watch how Frank was trained by a martial arts expert Senzo. Frank fully trained makes it to Hong Kong ready to honor Senzo. Frank has two government agents trying to track down Frank, Rawlins (Whitaker) and Helmer (Burton). Frank meets fellow fighter Jackson (Gibb) and the two get a quick tour of Hong Kong before being taken to the arena.

Reporter Janice Kent (Ayres) is after a story about the Kumite and befriends Frank. Day one of the Kumite sees the rules explained you win by knock out, submission or elimination from the run fight the Kumite continues the opponents become stronger and it soon becomes apparent that Chong Li (Yeung) the champion is going to the most dangerous man in the competition. It becomes clear that Frank will end up avoiding Chong Li until the final battle where he proves that he is the best of the best.

Bloodsport is what you would come to expect from any Jean-Claude Van Damme film, plenty of fighting, splits and awkward insults that fail to cross the language barrier. It is claimed to be based on a real life experience but I find it hard to believe that this secret fighting tournament is known by reporters, the police and is easier to find than a McDonalds in Hong Kong. We know where the story is going from the very early moments because our hero is always going to overcome the odds against the fiercest fighter there after hurting a friend. You know what your going to get so enjoy it. (7/10)


Actor Review


Jean-Claude Van Damme: Frank Dux military man who goes AWOL to fight in the legendary Kumite to honor his mentor and trainer. Jean gives a good performance that you would expect from the fighting action star. (7/10)



Donald Gibb: Ray Jackson reckless wild American who is also taking part in Kumite, he becomes friends with Frank as he gets all the comedy lines. Donald gets all the good lines in the film giving the serious side a lighter touch. (7/10)


Leah Ayres: Janice Kent reporter who is trying to expose the Kumite and the brutality it causes. Leah gives a basic performance never really needing to do too much. (5/10)


Bolo Yeung: Chong Li the champion who holds records that wants them back after Frank beats them. He is the man everyone is afraid of facing because of the bodies he leaves behind him in combat. Bolo makes for a good villainous fighter. (7/10)


Support Cast: Bloodsport has a supporting cast that includes the fellow fighters, promoters and the two agents tracking down Frank. They add angles to the story without excelling it too much.


Director Review: Newt Arnold – Newt gives us what we would expect from a film like this. (6/10)


Action: Bloodsport has solid fight scenes that would have looked good for the time. (7/10)

Biographical: Bloodsport seems very one sided if it is about the real guy. (4/10)

Sports: Bloodsport is good for the fighting idea of the tournament. (7/10)

Settings: Bloodsport uses the settings well for the scenes but most part is spent in the arena. (7/10)

Suggestion: Bloodsport is one for the action fans to enjoy. (Action Fans Watch)


Best Part: Final fight.

Worst Part: Bad dubbing.


Believability: it seems a bit much to be real. (3/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Has 2 sequels and a remake in the works.

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $11.8 Million

Budget: $1.1 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

Tagline: Based on the real story of the Great White Dragon

Trivia: The movie is based on a book by Frank Dux and was touted as a true story. However, since then much doubt has arisen about the veracity of Dux’s story and now the majority of martial-arts enthusiasts view his accounts of competing in secret tournaments as complete fiction, as well as his claims of military service and being an undercover CIA operative. Some have pointed out that he is the only source that these secret tournaments exist, and that nobody else has come forward to confirm his story or ell their own version.


Overall: Fighting for Honour in Average Film



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