Friday, September 26, 2014

Film Review: Bloodsport (1988)

Bloodsport (Review)
United States/1988
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...attractively charming and cheesy and it is immensely entertaining."

Frank Dux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) of the USA travels to Hong Kong to participate in the Kumite -- an underground, full-contact martial arts tournament.

Bloodsport follows Frank Dux as he participates in the Kumite, along with several other fighters from around the world with different fighting styles. There some sappy background information, but it serves mostly as a training montage. There is also a subplot about a reporter trying to cover the Kumite and her romance with Dux, and two CID officers who are searching for Dux in Hong Kong; these subplots were uninspired and dull. Fortunately, the bulk of the story is the actual Kumite event. After several ferocious fights, Bloodsport leads to great climax and satisfying 80s ending.

Bloodsport is a very cheesy 80s martial arts action movie. The dialogue is often very unnatural and unintentionally humorous; the first act of the film, which is mostly a flashback, is the biggest culprit -- I laughed a lot at the terrible dialogue and delivery. Aside from the laughable dialogue, Bloodsport is also very cliché. I think there's a sports cliché around every corner; it even has the "introspective thinking while I'm alone before the final fight" cliché. For a film critic who holds these technicalities to a flaw, Bloodsport is a bad film.

But, I'm not an everyday film critic. -- I don't review movies purely based off of traditional technicalities and flaws. I found Bloodsport to be immensely entertaining. The cheesy dialogue and clichés were actually charming, in my opinion. Kind of like the b-movie charm and humor I found in The Incredible Melting Man. Combine this attractive 80s b-movie charm with some vicious action sequences, and you have an all-around entertaining movie. The action is great, despite most fights being in the form of montage, I loved the different styles of martial arts and how they clashed. The two major issues I had with the film were the useless journalist and CID subplots -- these really cut into the flow of the film, and lacked the charm of the rest of the film.

I'll be blunt: the acting is bad from the entire cast. Apart from the shoddy dialogue writing, the cast plays a major role in the unintentional humor of the film. Jean-Claude Van Damme sounds very unnatural when he speaks, he lacks fluidity in his spoken word; however, he's charismatic and has a strong on-screen presence, and he's also more than physically capable for the role. The film looks good, though. And, the music is fantastic; the Bloodsport soundtrack, despite adding to some clichés, is superb. Director Newt Arnold delivers a cliché and unintentionally hilarious film with exceptional fight sequences; I think his direction would be bad if I had watched this in the 80s, but it's unexplainably charming now.

Overall, Bloodsport is a very good martial arts action movie. It has bad dialogue, bad acting, and bad subplots, but it is attractively charming and cheesy and it is immensely entertaining. The music is also fantastic (listen to it, even if you don't watch the movie), and Jean-Claude Van Damme is great in the many fight sequences. If you like cheesy movies and martial arts, this is worth watching.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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