Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bloodsport (1987)

            The story is about underground fighting in Hong Kong.  Martial Arts movies are difficult to make successful in the sense that you have to be able to have solid acting and a sensible story to compliment the fight scenes.  This movie struggles really with all three of these categories.  It does have a plot but it’s fairly shallow and often set aside.  The acting is what can’t surprise you in a film such as this but it manages to anyway. It’s based on the true story of Frank Dux but why bother to mention that in the credits?  If I were that guy I would of declined.

Jean Claude Van Damme, who plays Frank Dux, is a fighter on a mission to win a sword at a tournament. This is his first starring role and it shows all too often.  It would seem the sword would be a bigger deal than it gets made out to be but it’s not.  In fact, you only see it a few times if that.  It’s quite forgotten as the movie goes on.  Forest Whittaker, who plays Rawlins, has a side role as a lawman of some kind.  His performance isn’t any better than anything else he’s done.  Honestly, not a big fan of him.  Frank befriends a huge wrestler type of man named Ray Jackson (Donald Gibb) by playing a video game.  It’s a sort of fighting game that Ray really gets into but ends up losing to Frank.  Ray takes the opportunity to become instant buddies with Frank from that moment on.  What a cute scene!  I’ll admit this movie was quite funny for a movie probably not trying to be.

The montages of the film were bland and somewhat uninteresting to put it in a kind way.  As Frank moves up in the tournament he is so obviously destined to fight the evil Korean fighter, Chong Li (Bolo Yeung).  There are no surprises in this film, which make you almost feel like you’ve seen it before.  The setup for vengeance comes when Chong fights Ray and sends his sorry butt to the hospital.  It’s somewhat disappointing, as you know Ray doesn’t stand a chance.  The story dictates clearly what is ultimately going to happen.  I suppose some viewers might be able to overlook that flaw but it does trouble me.  Janice (Leah Ayres) offers the movie some of the funniest lines but ends up falling back in with the rest of cast.
The final fight vs. Mr. Nasty Chong himself was far too long and comical.  This story was so much about the exhibition of Van Damme that it forgot to be an actual movie too.  I’ll say hardcore tough guys that admire senseless fighting would probably be the only crowd attracted to such a movie.  The story was weak and you wished it to hurry up and end during the finale, at least I did.  I did enjoy laughing throughout the film, but the director didn’t intend that I’m sure.  I wouldn’t want to watch this movie anytime in the near future.  I hate to bash on a movie so much but it didn’t flow well.  The awkward slow motion cuts and Van Damme yelling while flexing during fights was silly.  Despite what you may hear this is not one of Van Damme’s better films. 

Rating: 4 of 10

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