Jean Claude Van Damme is one of the great action heroes of the 80's, and of all time, alongside Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwar...Ahnold, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and as far as I'm concerned, Brandon Lee and Pierre Kirby. Unlike all those other actors though, there was always one tiny problem with JCVD-His acting. But hey, it doesn't mean that his films aren't enjoyable, like 1988's Bloodsport for example (which I've only stopped accidentally typo-ing as Bloodfist last year, embarassingly enough).
Frank Dux, a martial arts extraordinaire, runs away from a military camp to join the Kumite, an underground Asian fighting tournament as highly prestigious as much as it is infamous. Frank wants to both avenge the death of his lifelong friend, and honour said friend's father, the man who also trained Dux. While two government agents search for Frank, he goes further and further into the Kumite, intending to eventually face the deadly Chong Li...
Bloodsport is goofy as all hell, with some stunts believable, some not but I'll give the benefit of the doubt to (destroying massive hanging blocks of ice with a high kick), and some that are just silly, like the Dim Mak scene, or when Donald Gib 'breaks' a brick with his head (because breaking concrete over your forehead is exactly what you want to do when in the middle of a fighting tournament).
True to the title, there's a goofy amount of blood in the movie. They're throwing punches, not slashing blades!
The fighting's mostly great! There were a couple of hits here and there that didn't look like they quite connected, but nothing major, and certainly not as egregious as in Wrestling (and they expected us to believe that was real at one point?! HA!). The various combatants range from generic to freakin' ridiculous. While JCVD's acting isn't great here, his powerhouse martial arts skills are. And he does his trademark splits a lot.
The acting ranges from good (Donald Gibb), to goofy (Bolo Yeung), to downright terrible at times (JCVD). Van Damme is decent for the most part, but sometimes, you get lines like the 'StoooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooPPPPP!!' line, or when he gets lime thrown in his eyes by Chong Li, and he goes from a pained scream, to an angered one, to a confused one. He's pretty weird here, what with his many facial gesticulations! By far the film's worst actor is the teen who plays young Frank.
The huge Bolo Yeung is fun as the villainous Chong Li, constantly licking the blood from his wounds, while grinning like a sociopath. The character's barebones, and only Yeung's performance saves the character from mediocrity.
Donald Gibb is fun as Ray Jackson, and that's about all there is to him. There is one really weird dialogue exchange between Frank and Ray at the end, by the way! You what, you two?! You've known each-other for three days!
As for the violence level, there's a little blood, and one compound fracture (though we don't see any bone), and that's it. I've no idea why the film's rated R (and that's an Australian R I'm talking about-If Australia's R is Chong Li, America's R is Eddie Deezen)
What really surprised me was the Mentos scene! For many years, this video has been popular on the internet...
And you know what? The actual music played in the chase scene is even sunnier! Holy crap!
The score is really damn good! Fun and energetic at times, sombre and very well composed at others. All round great stuff!
My biggest issue with Bloodsport is the lack of real substance. Yeah, this movie is very fun, but that's all it is-fun goofy action. While the film starts off with what seems like a very personally driven plot (which is pretty depressing), the rest of the film is just fighting, nothing more.
The film's other biggest problem is that it never bothers to explain why these two government agents want to apprehend Frank. And no, it's not just because he leaves a military camp without permission.
I definitely recommend Bloodsport! It's a great JCVD flick, has plenty of badass action, and it's a great time-killer! Go forth and watch, although look forward to its sequel more...