Thursday, December 12, 2019

Sevimli Tehlikeli (2015)

20 years ago, a baby was stolen from a farming couple, driving them into grief. The kidnap is orchestrated by a powerful criminal who's intent on seizing his dying wife's fortune, which will only be accessible if her child marries. Faced without a wife or child, he =, with the help of a =. An unwitting accomplice to this is the young Zorak, who witnesses everything, including the death of his guardian. In the present day, young Zeliş has grown up without much of a life. Her father keeps her locked up in his ivory tower, fiercely protective of his 'child'. Convinced from a birthmark that she'll meet her soulmate and 'Prince Charming' someday, she holds out hope, and eventually bumps into Zorak, now a thief. While he wants nothing to do with her, believing he'll be nothing but trouble for a good rich girl like her, Zeliş is instantly smitten, and pursues him doggedly. The two begin falling for each-other, but it isn't long before Zeliş's father and his friends find out...

Sevimli Tehlikeli gets off to a bloody heavy start! Bound to make you cry, it pulls you right in, and you think there's no possible way this will be a fun movie! Thankfully the tone shifts after the time jump, and things naturally segue into the more lighthearted midsection, before becoming more of a thriller/adventure in the final act..

The story here is very good. Powerful, sweet, thrilling, with more than enough to keep you entertained, and enough happening to always keep you on your toes. It's never =, but it's also never too fast or = either.

Something I like here is the element of coincidences, and fate. Like how Zeliş's clumsiness causes her masquerade/disguise as a boy in the = cafe to go pear-shaped, but as she runs out, guess who she bumps into! It's not exactly realistic, but who cares. It's fun, =, and it really fits with the modern day fairy tale vibe. Honestly this does feel like a real life fairy tale, without any of the drawbacks than can hamstring such stories. Some try too hard, others not enough, but this nails it. It's subtle enough that you don't notice at first, but once you realise it, suddenly all the pieces fit together.

Tone is something the movie gets right! The dark moments might be dark, but never gratuitously so, and they never dominate the whole film. That makes them all the more effective, I feel. If a whole movie is super serious, then [nothing ultimately stands out], but when you pace yourself, they can be extremely effective.

Coming to the more notable traits/aspects, Sevimli Tehlikeli is a very ridiculous movie! A lot of the scenes are silly, and =, and always in a fun way, if not exactly believable. This reaches the apex in an absolutely absurd climax that's a joy to watch. I promise it's one of the most insane things you'll see in a romance, Turkish or otherwise!

As loony and over-the-top as the climax [to this film] is, the ending is very calm in comparison! It takes its time, and lets things unfold slowly as they come to an end. Whether or not everyone appreciates a 20 minute ending after the baddie's already been stopped is up to them, but I at least liked it here. I felt the movie had enough to wrap up to justify it, and it's more a matter of a couple of long scenes, as opposed to an absolute multitude of unnecessary extra endings.

The characters here are all well-developed and distinctive. The villains are a creepy bunch, with the eyepatch-clad Necla being the most visually interesting. A little silly at first, but once you get used to her, you begin to forget that she looks like a pirate, and treat her seriously. The villains range from machiavellian schemers, corrupt officials, young thugs, and more.

Zeliş's friend Meltem is level headed and down to earth in comparison, but ends up having to spearhead all  operations due to Zeliş's clumsiness and shyness. She's honest to a fault, such as =, but she never =, and more than makes up for her mistakes. Frankly she's the only good person in her family! Her dad's a psycho and her brother's a prick!

And lastly, the two leads. Zeliş is a fanciful (not to mention clumsy) dreamer who wants to experience more. Uncaring about the wealth at her feet, the only important thing to her is finding someone good to spend her time with, and having a real adventure for a change. Zorak meanwhile is ,more realistic and gruff, but also charismatic, and knows a good thing when he sees it, and he always strives to make good despite his thieving habits.

Fate is all well and good [and all], but it's nothing if the romance itself isn't convincing. I'm gonna need more than just 'These two are fated to be together!'. I need to actually see them interact, and like each other. Thankfully Sevimli delivers well on that front. The romance here is sweet, convincing, and you really buy it. These two make a great couple, worthy of Cinderella and Prince Charming!

The acting here is very good, with a lot required from the cast in terms of emotion. They go from one to another, even the more minor characters, and they do it superbly. They really help sell the movie's goofier moments, and make the dramatic ones that much more powerful.

The look of Sevimli is great. Several moments are stylishly directed, with beautiful wide-open shots. The action scenes, chases, and comedy moments are well directed too.

The music is a weird but neat addition. The main theme is strange, and very local, really getting you in the mood with its dum raka raka's and tiki tiki tak tak's. The score has a mix of electronic music with Turkish =, and it works well, never feeling too much like one or the other to sound ridiculous. There are a couple of alright pop songs too, in English and Turkish.

Overall, Sevimli Tehlikeli is a very entertaining movie with a lot to enjoy. You want romance? It's here. Adventure? Check! Danger? Eyepatch-wearing villains, and death-defying stunts? All here! If any of that appeals to you, this is a fun time, for sure...

Görümce (2016)

= characters. Yeliz seems pretty one-dimensional at first (albeit in an entertaining way), but as the movie goes on we get more insight into her character, and she feels well rounded by the end.

Another film coming from Turkish comedian Güpse Ozay], Görümce
Some of the moments are a bit cringey, in watching just how badly Yeliz messes things up, or at least tries, but it's never to the point where it's hard to watch (at least, until the one point where it's meant to be).

comes off as shockingly and hilariously creepy. How much of it was intentionally meant to be weird I can't say, but how straight the actor plays him  He sometimes comes across as genuinely charismatic

Güpse Ozay] is a very versatile actress, and her turn as Yeliz is no exception. She's over the top, hyperactive, while also giving many lines an amusing understatement even if its something really important. Her visual performance is great as well, and even if you watched the movie on mute, you wouldn't miss out on a thing with her =.

The rest of the actors do well

The writing, also by GüO]  

the music   is a little overdramatic at times, but I guess that comes with the territory of Turkish films. They sure do love their drama!

Görümce isn't the deepest of films, but that's not an issue. It's effective at what it tries to do, and is quite an entertaining

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)

On a secluded island in the South China seas, the Dead or Alive fighting tournament is being held. Hosted by the mysterious Victor Donovan, it sees fighters from across the world coming to prove themselves as the best in the world. There's Kasumi, a ninja princess searching for her presumed dead brother, Tina, a former professional wrestler eager to escape the shadow of the industry's fake perception, Christie, a thrill-seeking thief, and more. They soon realise there's more to this contest than meets the eye, and will have to work together to stay alive and stop whatever mad scheme Donovan is planning...

I avoided DOA: Dead or Alive for years because I thought it was disposable garbage, but when I finally watched it on tv on a whim one night I found I really enjoyed it! Genuinely and non-ironically!

While her clan has bizarre rules and she may not act or dress like a princess at all, Kasumi is a likeable enough character, with a strong enough character arc. Tina is probably the most relateable, with her journey of proving her self worth to both the world and her father, neither seem to take her desires seriously. Christie meanwhile is the most shallow lead, but in a good way. A sly crook with a heart of gold, her own story informs her character well. Helena has an upbeat personality, while having difficulty trying to live up to her dead father's expectations (or rather, how she sees them).

The appearances of each lead is unique (well, when they're not all in bikinis, anyway), and even the minor supporting characters have distinctive looks. While they're mostly present in fighting montages, they get better than brief walk-on cameos, and given that the movie focuses on 4 main characters and a few more supporting ones, it's no wonder that other less important to the story characters get a smaller amount of screentime. Everyone serves a purpose. Even more minor ones like Zak have their grudge against Tina, Kasumi's suspicions about Leon, or Max's thieving subplot. And there's of course how Weatherby and Helena contribute heavily to the climax in a way that makes their inclusion not feel superfluous or unnecessary. Overall, everyone gets the right amount of time devoted to them, with no-one feeling left out.

While the story is mostly well written, even if a little obvious at times, there are some amusingly silly moments that don't really make a whole lot of sense, but had to be there intentionally, from the policeman who uses his gun to hand a suspect's bra over, or Weatherby emailing the CIA about Donovan's activities. I don't know what's crazier, the fact that he did that, or that they actually responded!

As you could imagine from its source material, DOA is alllll about the sexiness. We get half naked women, lots of bikinis, and a myriad of exotic activities like beach volleyball and massages. The movie doesn't really cram it down our throats though, and after the first half or so is over, it's mostly gone. This is good, as it means we don't get too much of a good thing and get tired of the movie, or just find it creepy after a while. A good balance like this is always appreciated! Also, there's a little bit of action for the ladies. Nowhere near as much as for the guys, and one's enjoyment in that regard depends on how sexy the female viewer finds Zak, but it's certainly there.

This movie is also very empowering, in big and little ways. It doesn't feel hollow or cheap about it either. Dead or Alive radiates girl power!

The early montage that pares down the opponents is really well put together, showing off many different fighting styles from diverse opponents. I wish it had more footage in it (which would not only show off more of these =, but also keep the = at bay for longer)    I'm not sure how good any of these actors really are at martial arts, but they certainly look like pros. If they really are proficient, props to them, and if they're not, props to both them and the choreography/direction for [turning out] such = [scenes]! Where it [falters] though are the sometimes bizarre jumps, like this is an Indian action movie! Those are funny to watch though], so

The characters all wield their own distinctive fighting styles, which I liked. It also makes   unassuming, only to show off just how qualified they are to be in DOA, like the party boy Zack, who could kick your ass ten ways from sundown if you make fun of his silly mohawk. One I found interesting was Mac's sort of 'drunken fu' fighting style, and how well it serves him in one scene, but how poorly he does in a fair fight later on. I also liked the battle between Tina and her father .They fight on these flat boats in the middle of a lake/lagoon, and given that Bass is a hulking giant, you'd expect this to be a very one-sided fight, but it really isn't!

The acting is pretty good. Jaimie Pressley (Tina) and Holly Valance (Christie) turn in very enjoyable performances, while Eric Roberts is a fun villain, and Sarah Carter (Helena) is an adorably enthusiastic ass-kicker. Kevin Nash (Bass), Brian J. White (Zack) and others do well too. Natassia Malthe is stoically =, even if I'm not sure I buy her as a ninja based on her accent. Meanwhile Kane Kosugi (Ryu Hayabusa...yes, that one) comes across as meeker than you'd expect, but that makes him stand out more than if he too was just some stoic ninja. The weaker performances come from Devon Aoki (Kasumi) and Steve Howey (Weatherby). Both have their moments, and are likeable presences despite their sometimes shaky or stiff delivery.

The effects in DOA are another weak link, albeit minor. It's got some really obvious computer effects, that almost look like video game quality. Whether this was intentional I don't know, but it feels a bit weird and cheap regardless. Still, it's something you can look past. The same goes for the hilariously breakable environment, which Donovan must've made from goshdang papier-mache! The location work, meanwhile, is pretty breathtaking, and the set design is equally great! I wanted to stay on this tropical island HQ, and that's the most positive thing you can say about a movie's visuals.

The editing here is quite impressive. It's all very frenetic, and while some shots are too fast, and while others perhaps create continuity errors depending on how in real time you view cuts in a scene, a lot of it worked well for me. It was a good balance of fast and furious without sacrificing cohesion, with the speed and panache of the editing enhancing the fights rather than hindering.

DOA: Dead or Alive is a very silly movie, and very entertaining. It's a real favourite of mine and I recommend it to you if you're looking for a good time, even if a thoroughly ridiculous one

Monday, December 9, 2019

Street Fighter: The Movie (1994)

When it comes to bad movies, there is one that stands as one of the most infamous video-game adaptations out there, Street Fighter: The Movie!..And I don't see it. Why do people hate this movie so much? I can't speak for them, but I can definitely explain/ tell you why I simply adore this film...

The South East Asian country of Shadaloo has been gripped by war for years due to the machinations of the cruel warlord M. Bison, who desires to first conquer this nation over the opposing A.N. (Allied Nations) forces, then turn his attention to the rest of the world. Leading the A.N. charge is Colonel Guile, but he's not alone in wanting Bison's head, as the news reporter Chun Li has her own ulterior motives. Together, these disparate forces fight against Bison, along with reluctantly involved grifters Ken and Ryu. Will they succeed in foiling the power-mad monster's plans, or will M. Bison succeed in toppling.crushing his enemies and conquering the world?...

Street Fighter is another of my all-time favourite movies. It's one of those flicks I can watch again and again, no matter what, and it never fails to entertain.

The first two acts aren't hugely fight-heavy, while the final third is all-action. On paper this sounds like a terrible idea, but I find it really works. There's mostly good pacing with the fight scenes we do get, and there's a feeling of gradual effective building up as the story moves along, carried well by the cast and events and ensuring that the affair never becomes boring even if there's not a punch being thrown every minute. As for the climax itself, it's lots of fun, showing everyone's plans coming together and systematically kicking back at Bison's forces just as he thinks victory is in the grip of his hands.

The problem with tournament fighter games that attempt stories is usually the same-It can be tough building a sweeping and epic story around a simple fighting tournament, as you have to have all the action revolve around this one location at a certain specific time. That's why I feel Street Fighter did a good thing by not including a tournament and limiting itself by that, as it gave the film the opportunity to tell its story in a better, broader way without being constrained.

The choreography on display in Street Fighter is very good. There are impressive fight scenes and other such acrobatics, and everyone impresses. No actor looks like they could've used more time in the training room. Even Raul Julia is convincingly able to get into the action, despite setbacks I'll get into later/health setbacks. That's acting for you. The guy probably rarely threw a punch in his life, but you totally/100% believe he could snap someone's neck in a single move in this film!

As an adaptation/adaption of the video games, this is serviceable, I guess, making some pretty big changes, but ones I approve of. The biggest is the lack of tournament, but I feel this plot wouldn't make much sense with that plot point carried over literally. Better to stay figurative, if that makes any sense. We've also got a few minor changes involving character allegiances, but that's about it.

Where this movie stands strongest is with its characters. If nothing else, it makes time for everybody! The cast all get their time in the spotlight, from Guile, Ken and Ryu, and Chun Li all/each getting enough to do, as do the remainder of the cast. Even the more minor ones like Deejay get plenty, with short scenes being given enough importance to make a character with only 5 minutes screentime stand out.

The dastardly M. Bison is a fantastic antagonist, interacting at least a little with everyone else in the cast, and getting across the feeling well that he's the reason for of all these events happening and all these characters coming together.

As lampshaded by the movie itself, Chun Li doesn't do any fighting in the first half, but that leads to a great moment, with a lot of build-up, and she fights plenty in the climax. It helps that despite not throwing a single punch in the first 45 or so minutes, she still appears a fair share, and does plenty of acrobatics and adventuring.

It's a bit odd that E. Honda has been switched up/changed from Japanese to Hawaiian. I guess they felt there were already enough East Asian characters, and wanted something different. And Hawaii and Japan do have a connection, so there's that. Balrog is villainous in the game but a good guy here, while Deejay's position is reversed from that. Nor sure why this is, but I really enjoy Balrog's friendship with Chun Li and Honda, so this is a change/alteration I don't mind. I like how the movie uses Dhalsim, as it makes more sense for him to be a scientist stuck in this mess rather than a fighter, given the character's a Hindu pacifist.

The acting in Street Fighter is hit and miss, mostly hit. With his Belgian accent and sometimes shaky acting, Jean Claude Van Damme is juuust a tad miscast as the all-American Colonel Guile, but once you get used to his presence, he's fine-ish. Damian Chapa and Byron Mann are fine in their roles, bringing enough heart with their friendship and differing attitudes. Ming-Na Wen is a great Chun Li, while Grand L. Bush and Peter Tuiasosopo do very well as Balrog and E. Honda. Wes Studi is a mature badass you don't wanna cross as Sagat, while Kylie Minogue is surprisingly good as Cammy! Roshan Seth has a stately and dignified performance as Dhalsim, doing a lot of non-verbal acting, while Andrew Bryniarski and  Miguel A. Núñez Jr. are a ball of fun as Zangief and Deejay.

Raul Julia is phenomenally good as M. Bison, by far the most memorable thing about the production. He performs beautifully, getting lots of fun dialogue, great speeches, and even some deadpan humour. What makes his performance all the more impressive and poignant is that he was dying of cancer as he appeared in this. Despite his body failing him, he puts on a great performance, ensuring that even though one of (if not THE/the) last entries in his filmography being regarded as 'one of the worst movies ever', this has never been viewed by even such detractors as a drawback for him. Julia's reason for choosing the role was a desire to spend more time with his children. He did his research, too, on all counts! He even pronounces Ryu correctly, unlike almost everyone else in this production.

One very interesting thing of note about Street Fighter's cast is the amount of diversity on display! There are white performers from all across the pond, several black ones (from African-American to Jamaican), several Chinese ones, Japanese, Samoan, Indonesian (as played by a Native American), a Native American (as played by a Native American), Indian, and South American/Latino, among others! Quite a melting pot! It's hard to see anything with such a varied cast even today! Even Van Damme's casting could be seen as inclusive, showing that regardless of if you have a thick Belgian accent, you can still be a real American. That last one is no doubt unintentional, but still super neat!

However much I may like/love Street Fighter, there are problems I have with it. The biggest ones by far is early on when Ryu and Vega are about to fight (in the closest thing there is to street fighting in the movie), it gets cut off by Guile coming in to arrest everyone there. Dammit, movie, couldn't you have waited just a few minutes?! In a film lacking a little in fighting in the first third, this would have smoothed things out a bit, and would've only benefited things for multiple reasons!

A couple of lines from Guile annoyed me too. The first was/is when he's telling a vengeful Chun Li about how "This war isn't your personal vendetta...It's about mine". That's not terrible, but it makes he character go from sounding wise and understanding to a dickhead in the span of three seconds. Next up is when he's announcing the assault on Bison's headquarters, and one of his soldiers points out the danger involved, and the soldier who takes this particular job in the mission would have to be insane, leading to the cheesy response of "Luckily Bison has driven me crazy...So I'm gonna do it". Ughhh, you killed the line with that second sentence, Guile! Learn to quip!

There's quite a bit comedy here, and some of it sticks, some doesn't, but there's none that I found truly dire. One line I felt was a bit weak ended up being salvaged quickly. That's when Bison is making his grand declaration of how 'Bisonopolis' will be the wonder of his new world...and then goes on to say where the food court should be. By itself, I found that a bit of a weak joke, but immediately following is Bison saying "All the big corporations will want in when I've crushed my enemies". If that [line] isn't on point and hilarious, I don't know what is!

Street Fighter had a sizeable budget and it shows. It looks great! The locations are lively, and the set design is superb. There are countless extras, neat pyrotechnics, and immaculate attention to detail, to big things and small, helping flesh the world out. There are many little background treats and easter eggs to spot, such as the propaganda posters for example, and the faux-Thai alphabet. There's so much to spot that even after having seen this over a dozen times, I still see or hearnew things.

Street Fighter: The Movie may not be the best regarded film out there, but I really enjoy it, unabashedly. It's got so much to recommend, and so much to enjoy. And if worst comes to worst and you don't enjoy it that much, well many who dislike this still find plenty to enjoy ironically, so you can't lose much by giving it a shot! Be sure to give it a watch, or else M. Bison will come round to your house and rip your arms off!...

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Bloodsport 2 (1996)

I've mentioned many times before how highly I regard Bloodsport 2, be it on my blog, or in private company. Why is that? And why have I taken so long so get to this when I've been wanting to review it for years now? Well to answer the latter question, I saw this series a 'little' bit out of order, starting with 4, continuing with 2 and 3, and concluding in 1. 4 was the first one I reviewed, followed by 3, which I wanted to get out of the way first before discussing 2, because it's garbage! Still no Bloodsport 2 review though. That's because I hadn't actually...errr, seen the original movie at that point, and I figured I couldn't talk about 2 completely if I don't know how it ranks as a sequel. For all I know it might look like a dollar store production when compared to the much bigger budgeted mainstream action picture that is the first entry. I've long since seen and reviewed that though. Why the gap afterwards? Err, well I've been busy and distracted with a lot of things! It's finally time now though to discuss Bloodsport 2, and tell you all why I love this movie so much...And to apologise to Daniel Bernhardt for my criticism of his acting in my Bloodsport 4 review!...

Alex Cardo is a thief working in Thailand. One night he makes the mistake of stealing a priceless Ming Dynasty sword from well-connected businessman David Leung, and is quickly arrested. He's sent to a brutal prison, where he meets Sun, a Chinese martial arts teacher in prison for killing a student gone berserk. Impressed at Alex's willingness to help a fellow inmate who was being attacked by others, Sun decides to mentor him, eventually teaching Alex the skill of the Iron Hand. He gradually overcomes the harshness of the prison, and learns of the Kumite, a revered traditional fighting tournament. Promising to compete in it for Sun if he's ever released, Alex finds his wish granted when Mr. Leung himself grants him a reprieve in order to locate the contest's prize-The stolen sword, now in the possession of Alex's crooked former partner. It's up to Alex to get back the sword, and to compete in the Kumite, where the fearsome prison guard Demon awaits...

Bloodsport 2 is a very satisfying film. Despite its status as a direct-to-video sequel to a Jean-Claude Van Damme 'A-picture B-picture' (that statement makes sense if you've ever seen the original Bloodsport), this film bears quite a great deal of intelligence and subtlety, and has a very nice philosophy to it which was great for me, and hopefully for others too. There are themes ranging from spirituality, gaining inner peace, honour, the pointlessness of revenge, and righting wrongs, both past and potential.

If you're not into martial arts, you might not enjoy this film, as a lot of the last two thirds are tournament fights. The choreography here is very good, and it shows that the cast are professionals at their craft, and that the filmmakers didn't skimp on talent and quality. There are multiple different fighting styles on display, from Capoeira, to Muay Thai, and many more that I assuredly don't recognize, all equally impressive. There's also many match variations too. Some are prolonged fights, others are instant knockouts, and some are tossed out of the ring. They may still be conscious, but you better believe they've lost!

As the Kumite progresses, we see plenty of dynamic characters such as Alex, and Demon, as well as the supporting leads such as Sergio, Cliff, and Kim, who are all clearly talented fighters, and never dull.

I dig that the movie bothers to show us a few fights that don't contain any of the main characters. It's nice seeing the tournament have a bit of life to it, with us seeing people who aren't the leads competing. I also like that it doesn't show the heroes as perfect and infallible fighters, but rather shows the difficulty they face and the challenges they overcome by winning, instead of it just being a breeze. That's not to say they're all longer and tough though. Some are over in a single kick! You believe it, too!

The characters in Bloodsport 2 are quite distinctive! Alex is a likeable hero, undergoing a solid character journey, starting out as an arrogant and somewhat cold thief, to a wiser, warmer, and more honourable person. It's great to see, and much more preferable to a one-note lead. The script does a good job of showing him as bad at first but still with enough goodness and humanity that he's not a scumbag who's hard to root for. As for his super-duper skill, the Iron Hand, it at first seems a bit weird and anticlimactic that Alex rarely if ever uses it on his opponents in the Kumite until Demon, but on the other hand, Demon's probably one of the only few contestants who deserves to be devastated with the move, and using it sparingly does make it all the more special.

The other protagonists at the Kumite are a diverse bunch, with their own unique looks, fighting styles, and personalities. Janine is a decent love interest, fitting into the plot very well, complementing Alex's change of character. Mr. Leung (David, not James as one character mistakenly calls him early on) is likewise good. It's nice seeing him come around from disliking Alex to trusting and respecting him. Sun is a great mentor with many important lessons to teach, and you can really feel the impression he makes on everyone he meets.

Demon is an imposing villain who adds a lot of menace to the proceedings. Like Chong Li from the first Bloodsport, he barely speaks a word, and doesn't have much to him. Although while Chong Li had no character and was cartoonishly one-note, we at least see plenty of Demon before the Kumite, as a brutal prison guard, whereas Li was just some guy. Because of that, Demon is the better character, even if he is no Bolo Yeung. Also, for the unaware, 'No Bolo Yeung' is a roundabout way of saying a fighter is bloody impressive!

I barely have any negatives with this film-Just a few minor issues. For one, it doesn't say how long Alex has been in prison until near the very end, which is a bit annoying. I wish we would have found out sooner. Also, while Mr. Leung sees what Alex's plan to  get the sword back is eventually, I didn't like the "Does it Matter?" explanation he gives at first. To me it gave off the wrong vibes.

I also kinda dislike how Demon kills his final opponent before Alex. It makes total sense for it to happen, and it's great dramatically, but I feel it puts a damper on the whole event. I can imagine the characters reminiscing, like "Hey Alex, remember when we fought in that Kumite?"-"Yeah, it was awesome! Great memories...Oh, except when that one guy was totally murdered!". I do really like how the crowd reacts though. They spend the whole move happily chanting Demon's name during every fight. After snapping the dude's neck, Demon proudly and smugly raises his hands up in the air expecting applause...and doesn't get so much as a singly clap. He raises his arms again, looking pissed off now, but the place is still as quiet as a tomb. Perfect! As for after the events of the movie, one can presume he ends up back in that prison, but not in the capacity he held before!

Finally, let's compare Bloodsport 2 with its predecessor, and see how it stacks up! Firstly, plotwise. The story here is unrelated to the first in all respects but it being about the Kumite, and the presence of Tiny. This is fine, as the event itself is a more than good enough anchor for a sequel, especially with a familiar face present. I feel this is miles better than what some Direct To Video martial arts sequels do (such as the ones for JCVD vehicle Kickboxer), which is kill off the big-name actor they can no longer afford offscreen in favour of the new guy. I have to say, this doesn't feel like a sequel to that film at all. The original Bloodsport left me a bit cold. It looked great, but it feels a bit hollow, there's little heart to it (not a dealbreaker, but important when a movie is already lacking in other ways), and some of the bad acting is hard to overlook, even if it is friggin' hilarious.

The Kumite here is decidedly more honourable and legit, as well as less violent, and when Demon kills an opponent in the climax, the audience is shocked. Not shocked enough though to throw his ass out of the damn ring and call the cops though. Ah well, honour and all that. Plus, it'd be a greater punishment to let Demon get his ass kicked (if all goes well) so he's thoroughly shamed and defeated, then call the cops.

Despite being a B-picture through and through, the first Bloodsport had money behind it. Something I always wondered was how it looked compared to its low-budget DTV follow-up. Well, the arena in that film perhaps looks better, or at least better lit, but funnily enough it's not that much bigger than the one in the sequel, possibly smaller! Because it's a mainstream film, I guess I was expecting it to look like the Olympics or something.

The acting here ranges from very good to at least competent. The worst offenders have gotta be Alex's old partner, and his henchman. Daniel Bernhardt is effective as the protagonist, good at making us care about his character and story arc, while showing great talent in his fighting skills. James Hong is just great, as lovable as always. He gets plenty of scenes early on, but after the halfway point the film has a lot less of him, and a lack of framing plot scenes, which is a shame, but he still has enough screentime.

Pat Morita's character feels well utilised, being a good mix between a stern authority figure and a trusting confidant and guardian. Ong Soo Han is great as the villain physically and theatrically. Donald Gibb is a fun presence, and others such as Ron Hall, Nicholas Hill, and Lisa McCullough are great additions to the cast too, and Cho Hee II is always a welcome addition to any movie he's in.

The sound effects are a weak link. They're not terrible, but there are a lot of cracking sounds that don't really look like they sync up with what's presented onscreen, sometimes even sounding far too severe for a simple punch or knock to the ground. Another almost complaint is that the film quality on the DVD release isn't great, but it's good enough that you can easily overlook it once the movie draws you in. I wonder if there's since been a spiffed-up release. If not, I'm sure we'll get one in the near future.

The score is great! I especially love the tune played during the two montages. And speaking of those, it doesn't feel lazy to me that they re-use the same tune, but instead the second montage feels like an extension and completion of Alex's training. And plus, I really love the song! The tune that plays over the end credits is...weird! I can't say it's not entertaining though! It's a techno beat with the occasional distorted voices saying stuff like "Kickboxing!", "Impact!" or "Bloodsport!", and assorted stuff like that.

Shot on location in Thailand, The look of this production is good, and on point, feeling convincing all the way through..

*Whew*, this ended up being quite a long review! I guess that's what comes of talking about your favourite movies. They hold that place for a reason, and what you love about them usually takes more than just a single sentence to describe! Anyway, Bloodsport II comes highly recommended from me. I even suggest you watch it first over the more well-known Jean-Claude Van Damme film! This will always hold a special place in my moviegoing heart...