Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bloodsport 4 (1999)

The original Bloodsport was the real career starter of Jean-Claude Van Damme, and was famous enough to warrant three sequels, all starring Swiss/American martial artist Daniel Bernhardt. Surprisingly Bloodsport 2 and 3 actually follow on from each other-4 however, doesn't.

Bloodsport 4: The Dark Kumite is about a police officer who goes undercover in a prison to investigate the mysterious rash of prisoner disappearances.

The film starts off with Sergeant John Keller (Bernhardt) at a Kumite tournament. Keller defeats his opponent, but refuses the crowd's shouts for him to kill. He chastises the audience for their bloodlust, then leaves with his partner, Blaire (Lisa Stothard). Watching him from atop the audience is the fight's organiser (and the film's main villain), Justin Caeser (Ivan Ivanov), who admires Keller's fighting skills and wants him as a fighter.

Keller and Blaire go to a nightclub that just happens to have been attacked by Schrek (Stefanos Miltsakakis), a serial killer who Keller has encountered before. Schrek has a female cop hostage at pen-point (death by pen is his M.O.). The cop begs Keller to take the shot, but Keller freezes and Schrek stabs her in the neck. Keller chases after Schrek and fights him until backup arrives and arrests Schrek.

Schrek's appearance at the club is a mystery, as he was recorded as having been executed a month ago. When Keller's boss, Captain Anderson (Jeff Moldovan) does some digging, he finds that Schrek was being transported and one of the transport van's tires blew and Schrek took advantage of the moment and killed all three guards and escaped. Anderson deduces thhat something fishy is going on at Fuego Penal, the prison that Schrek was 'executed' in, and decides to put Keller in there undercover.

Keller goes into Schrek's cell and starts beating him up for information, and two other cops come in and Keller 'shoots' them, then is 'apprehended' by Blaire. He is put on trial and given a life sentence at Fuego by the loudest judge ever! This actor has no idea what voice depth is!
"ORDER! ORDER IN THE COURT! This court finds you guilty, John Keller, for the aggravated and unprovoked murder of two LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS! I'm recommending a life sentence, without parole. You will be remanded to the MAXIMUM SECURITY PENITENTIARY, Fuego Penal!"

Keller is taken to Fuego and meets the Warden (Derek McGrath), a tubby sadist, and Files (Dennis La Valle), the head guard. Files is a leather nut who has a couple of great lines! ("Screw with me and by sweet sunny Jesus, I will use your prostates as goddamn trampolines!"-"Mind your manners, or I'll reach my fist so far up your asses I'll pull out your lungs!"). The Warden tells Keller that his prison only has one rule-there are no rules! Also inmates of the prison are Winston (Michael Krawic), a guy who 'can get things', Dr. Rosenbloom (Elvis Restaino), an insane guy who murdered his parents and likes to make paper flowers, and Billings (David Rowe), a guy who was arrested by Keller and has found religion, which makes him say 'Praise Jesus' every other minute when he's threatening Keller with his life. So far, you can totally see the resemblance this has to the first Bloodsport!

Blaire checks in on Keller, disguised as a nun. She ask him what he's found. He replies, "Nothing yet, however, the warden runs a small-time black-market cockfight". Oh, I see, Keller, you've found out nothing except for the information you've found out! Then Blaire does the same thing! She hasn't got any info herself, except for the fact that there's a U.S. Marshall mole in the prison. THAT IS SOMETHING, YOU STUPID BITCH! Keller is called into the warden's office and Warden offers Keller the chance to fight in his cockfight. Keller be's sarcastic with Warden, leading him to say this golden line! "I appreciate a good fighter, Keller, sarcasm from a shit-fuck cop-killer is something that I simply will not tolerate!".

Warden calls Caeser, who's swanking it up in his uber-groovy love-den with about a dozen gals. This would be a good time to mention that the actor playing Caeser is probably the worst actor in the film (and that is saying something!). He talks very woodenly, and he... ...talks like... ...this... ...dragging his... ...sentences out... long! Ceaser forbids Warden (if his actual name was mentioned in the film, I missed it) to kill Keller, as he wants him for his Kumite. Warden leaves and tries to act like he's scared out of his boots by Caeser, even walking right up to the camera and steaming it up!

Keller spars with a random prisoner and defeats him (after Warden says his 'rules' line again!), and when he doesn't kill him, the warden gets angry, Looney Tunes angry! Literally! He's like Yosemite Sam come to life! A little while later, Keller talks with Winston, having deduced that he's the mole. Winston thinks that his days are numbered, as the warden now knows that there's a mole in the prison, he just doesn't know who yet. Keller starts to train Winston in self-defence and the training session end up as a sparring match with Billings. Despite Billings' eagerness to turn Keller into pulp, he gets his ass kicked. A few days later, Winston warns Keller that the warden is going to get Keller with a sexy woman in a sound-wired room to try and see if he's genuine, and not undercover.

Keller is drugged and wakes up in a lavish room, on a bed with the sexy gal. They talk for a bit, and then they have sex...with their underwear on! Don't ask me how that's possible! While they do that, Warden is listening in, while eating popcorn! When that's done, Warden calls Caeser, who's dozen girls all slowly hand the phone down 'pass the parcel' style to Caeser. He tells Caeser that Keller is legitimately in prison, and not undercover. Caeser by the way, is the worst guy to have a telephone conversation with-he always sounds bored, he talks over Warden, and he constantly hangs up while Warden's still talking!

Things go wrong when Keller, along with Schrek, Winston, Billings and a few random inmates,  are sent for execution via lethal injection. They are all 'executed' and are covertly sent to Heavens Hill, to the palace where Caeser lives. In the meanwhile, Captain Anderson hears the bad news and breaks it to Blaire, who denies it and runs off. She goes to the prison again and is given a paper flower by Dr. Rosenbloom from Keller. She goes home and drinks away her sorrows, and she pours her wine over the flower, revealing the secret words 'Heavens Hill'.

Caeser introducts his new fighters to the art of Kumite, then starts the tournament for the blood-hungry audience. It's here where for one time, Caeser says a whole sentence in one go, and the first time he actually raises his voice above a whisper. Before the fight begins, the audience is treated to a (fun) pantomime opera. Then the games begin and Keller is in the fight for his life as Blaire races to Heavens Hill to save him...

This is not a good film, make no mistake about that! The acting is terrible allround, from main cast members, to brief extras. Daniel Bernhardt can't act very well, but that doesn't matter too much, because his talents lie in martial arts, which he's very good at. Ivan Ivanov is terrible as Justin Caeser, he sounds bored, he can't act or even emote, and he constantly drags out his sentences interminably! Simply put, he is NOT a threatening villain! And neither is Derek McGrath as the Looney Tunes caricature Warden, although he's a slightly better actor. Dennis La Valle however, is a fun and threatening villain, and he chews the scenery all the way through! Stefanos Miltsakakis as Schrek is decent, but barely talks and he does barely anything during the whole movie. Lisa Stothard is decent as Blaire and genre actor and stuntman Jeff Moldovan is good in his five-or-so minutes of screen time. Michael Kawic is good as Winston. Apparently the producers really liked him, because his character dies, yet still makes it through to the end of the film alive!-he get's shot, he's on the ground for about twenty minutes, then he's all hunky dory as he, Blair and Keller walk off into the Bulgarian sunset...

Speaking of Bulgaria, that's where this movie was shot, and it shows! This is meant to be set in America, which is a tough pill to swallow, given the Eastern architecture and snow palaces!

This film also has one of the worst choreographed action finales I've ever seen. At first, the movie just has ludicrously easy neck breakings, but when the finale rocks around, no-one could not laugh their ass off at how bad it is!

The movie's script is something special, from the above quotes, and this exchange-Schrek: "What's up, asshole."  Keller: "I thought you were dead, asshole!". No surprise, given that one of the film's writers is also one of the film's worst actors! And at the end, after jamming a pen in Schrek's ear, Keller says "I seem to have misplaced my pen"!

As a sequel to Bloodfist, The Dark Kumite is lying in the dust after having been TKO'd forty simeltaneous times by JCVD himself. As its own film, it's still terrible, but it's fun and entertaining, and that's really all one could ask for with direct-to-video films like this.


  1. I always get these movies mixed up with teh 'Kickboxer' movies. I read your review waiting to hear you make fun of CODY from 'Step by Step', before realizing I had the wrong film.

    Great post, though.

  2. Well I did just buy Class of 1999 2: The Substitute, so there's a chance to make fun of Sasha Mitchell soon enough! haha!
    I haven't seen any of the kickboxer sequels, but now that I've bought and seen all of the Bloodsport sequels, I'm gonna try and get all five of them.