Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Newt Arnold|
|Story by||Sheldon Lettich|
|Music by||Paul Hertzog|
|Edited by||Carl Kress|
|Distributed by||The Cannon Group
|Box office||$11.8 million (USA)|
Bloodsport is a 1988 American martial arts film directed by Newt Arnold, and starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Roy Chiao, Donald Gibb and Leah Ayres. The film is partly based on unverified claims made by martial artist Frank Dux. It sold well at the box office, grossing $11,806,119 domestically on a budget of $1,500,000. Bloodsport was one of Van Damme's first starring films and showcased his athletic abilities. He performs numerous physical feats such as helicopter-style, jump spinning heel kicks, and a complete split. It has since become a cult film.
U.S. Army Captain Frank Dux, trained from his youth in the ways of Ninjutsu by a Japanese master of the art, Senzo Tanaka, honors his mentor out of gratitude and respect for having been allowed to train in place of Tanaka's deceased son Shingo by going to Hong Kong to participate in the Kumite — an illegal and underground, freestyle, single-elimination and occasionally deadly full-contact martial arts tournament, to which the world's best martial artists are secretly invited every five years. During his childhood, Dux and a group of friends invaded Tanaka's home to steal a katana, but he was apprehended by Senzo and Shingo while attempting to return the katana to its display rack. Impressed by Dux's honesty and lack of fear, Senzo had him train with Shingo in martial science. Following Shingo's death, Senzo agreed to train Dux as a member of the Tanaka clan. When Dux's superiors learn of his invitation to the Kumite, they refuse to let him go; in return, he goes AWOL, says goodbye to his mentor and leaves for Hong Kong. Two CID officers, Helmer and Rawlins, are summoned to track down and arrest Dux for desertion.
After arriving in Hong Kong, Dux befriends American fighter Ray Jackson and Victor Lin, who becomes the manager/liaison for Jackson and Dux. The two Americans and the defending Kumite champion Chong Li - a fighter with a savage streak - all make it through the first day of the Kumite. Dux earns the enmity of Li after breaking his record for the fastest knockout. Dux becomes involved with American journalist Janice Kent, who is attempting to investigate the Kumite, but is horrified by its brutality. On the second day of the tournament, Jackson is set up against Li. Although Jackson gains the upper hand, he gloats instead of finishing Li, who brutally beats him, putting him in the hospital. Dux vows that he will avenge Jackson. Kent tries to convince Dux to pull out of the tournament, but he refuses.
On the last day of the competition, Dux is cornered by Helmer and Rawlins. After defeating the local police, he promises to give himself up once the tournament is over. Dux advances to the tournament final to face Li, who had shocked the audience by killing his previous opponent remorselessly. Dux is a formidable foe, so Li resorts to blinding him with a crushed salt pill. Dux uses his other senses (as Senzo had taught him) to overcome the handicap and force Li to shout "matté" (a cry of surrender), becoming the first Western winner of the Kumite. He then returns to the United States with the CID officers.
- Jean-Claude Van Damme as Frank Dux
- Donald Gibb as Ray Jackson
- Leah Ayres as Janice Kent
- Bolo Yeung as Chong Li
- Forest Whitaker as Rawlins
- Norman Burton as Helmer
- Roy Chiao as Senzo Tanaka
- Michel Qissi as Suan Paredes
- Philip Chan as Inspector Chen
Bloodsport 's soundtrack score was composed by Paul Hertzog, who also composed another Jean-Claude Van Damme film titled Kickboxer. The soundtrack contains the songs "Fight to Survive" and "On My Own", both performed by Stan Bush. Bush's songs are replaced on the soundtrack with alternate versions sung by Paul Delph, who was nominated for a Grammy for this work. The film plays the song "Steal the Night" by Michael Bishop during a scene where Dux runs from Helmer and Rawlins. The song was not released until the mid-2000s, as a single containing a vocal and instrumental version. On June 26, 2007, Perseverance Records released a limited edition CD of the soundtrack including, for the first time, the original film versions of the Stan Bush songs.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that the film received positive reviews from 33% of 18 surveyed critics; the average rating was 4.3/10. Leonard Klady of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Hacking through the jungle of cliche and reservoir of bad acting in Bloodsport [...] are some pretty exciting matches."
Bloodsport was followed by three sequels: Bloodsport II: The Next Kumite (1996), Bloodsport III (1997) and Bloodsport 4: The Dark Kumite (1999). They were released direct-to-video, and Jean-Claude Van Damme did not appear in them.
A remake of Bloodsport is planned. Phillip Noyce was attached to direct a screenplay by Robert Mark Kamen. Screen Daily explains, "The story will follow an American who goes to Brazil to recover from the violence he has experienced in Afghanistan who gets involved in a martial arts contest." On July 24, 2013, Relativity Media announced that they will make the reboot with James McTeigue directing and will be shot in Australia and Brazil.
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- Relativity Reboots Jean-Claude Van Damme’s ‘Bloodsport’ (EXCLUSIVE)