Wham Bam Van Damme!
Bloodsport is hands down the best movie Jean-Claude Van Damme ever made in a career of martial arts movies that ranged from the sad to the great Bloodsport stands out as one of the genre’s all time greats. Bloodsport features a very young Van Damme as Frank W. Dux (pronounced Dukes) and the legendary Bolo Yeung as Chong Li. Fans of mainstream cinema as well as the cult favourite Ghost Dog will get a kick out of seeing Forest Whitaker as Rawlins.
The success of Bloodsport lies in the simplicity of the story. Young Frank gets caught breaking into the house of Mr. Tanaka and makes a deal to become a friend / punching bag for Mr. Tanaka’s son who is training in the family’s style of karate. When Tanaka’s son unexpectedly dies Tanaka trains Frank in his stead to carry on the family tradition in the martial arts. The story of course centers around Dux’s invitation to the Kumite a no holds barred martial arts competition in which fighters of various styles meet in one on one single round elimination matches. One of the cool features of the movie is the variety of styles the audience gets to see in one movie. The practitioners of each style keep to form and there are fight sequences which are brilliantly choreographed. Some of the styles featured are Hapkido, Goju Ryu, Kung Fu, Kenpo, Muay Thai, Drunken Monkey (or Crafty Monkey) all of which are a pleasure to watch.
Naturally everything progresses to the final fight sequence between the great Frank W. Dux and the reigning champion Chong Li. The final fight does not disappoint. This movie plays to the strengths of the lead actor. There is not a lot of dialogue, the martial arts featured are well choreographed and give Van Damme the chance to show off his own vibrant and acrobatic style. Bloodsport ranks as one of the best martial arts movies of the 1980’s.