Thursday, September 22, 2011


Every few years I get this incredible urge over me, and I can't explain it...

I need to watch a small marathon of Jean-Claude Van Damme movies.

Maybe it's because we had Bloodsport and Kickboxer on Beta tapes when I was a kid, which was obviously the superior format compared to VHS, or maybe it's because those '80s movies starring Mr. Van Damme were just flat out awesome! I really can explain it I guess.

(based on the "real life events of Frank Dux")

I just purchased the Blu-ray combo pack that contains Bloodsport and Timecop, and I couldn't wait to watch Bloodsport. I literally haven't seen this movie since about 1998, and I must say, the movie STILL holds up to this day.

I've seen Kickboxer a bunch of times since the last time I watched Bloodsport, and you do get to watch some intense training scenes in Kickboxer. Those scenes include: underwater training,, kicking down a palm tree, the pulley-system that stretches out the legs of Kurt Sloane (JCVD) so he can later do a split during a fight in some shady bar, and the amazing coconut drop from the top of a tree that lands on his stomach and the Muscles from Brussels responds, "I'mokayy." I still give the slight nudge to Bloodsport.

Although you see a slightly more relaxed training approach in Bloodsport thanks to Senzo Tanaka, who is Frank Dux's (JCVD) teacher, Tanaka puts Dux on his back repeatedly. He also makes Dux serve tea while being blindfolded, which he performs to perfection (he'll need this ability during the final fight scene of course).

Obviously Bloodsport has its fair share of '80s campiness, but it does it in such endearing ways that you are reminded that your Ogre (literally Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds, played by Donald Gibb) of a best friend can bring out that soft spot in any martial artist's heart. You also get to see Van Damme doing his trademark splits and "helicopter kicks," which he certainly loves to display in just about every movie he's been in.

Let me get to why I give Bloodsport a nudge over Kickboxer, and it has to do with this man:

Bolo Yeung (AKA Hong Kong Hercules) played Chong Li, one of the greatest villains in a martial arts movie. Don't get me wrong, Tong Po was a great villain in Kickboxer, but Chong Li is just amazing. Chong Li is the reigning Kumite champion, and he'll be damned if he is going to let Dux take the title away from him. Chong Li hospitalizes Dux's new BFF, Ray Jackson (ya know, Ogre...), who gives him a little run for his money, and then to top it off, takes Jackson's Harley-Davidson headband and wears it around his leg in the final fight against Dux!

That final fight between Li and Dux is just pure cinematic gold. When Dux starts to get the upper hand against Li in the fight (after one of those fighting-game type flurry of hits), Chong Li throws quicklime into Dux's eyes, which temporarily blinds him (that blindfold tea serving training is about to pay off). We get to enjoy a brilliant nervous breakdown by Dux, and then a nice little montage of his past blindfold training with Senzo Tanaka, which helps him relax and realize, of course, that he can still fight against Li even without his vision.

The ending of this fight cannot correctly be put into words. Really, just go and watch it. It's 90+ minutes of '80s greatness.

Oh, and Forest Whitaker is in the movie.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Bloodsport retrospective. Rather than just calling Chong Li the "greatest villan of a martial arts movie" I actually think he's the scariest villan of ANY movie. His eyes and body language really get to me to this day and I'm 30 now!

Thankfully, by all accounts, Bolo Yeung is a top guy in real life! :)

Eric said...

You're welcome! Chong Ji is definitely one of the scariest villains because he is one cold-blooded guy. Bloodsport is such a great movie. "OK, USA!"