Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Short Attention Span Review: Bloodsport (1988)

I was young once.  In fact, I was very young and very foolish once, and it was around that time that Bloodsport was released.  Now, my father practically raised me on kung fu flicks, so this wasn't my introduction to Jean-Claude Van Damme.  No, I had already met him in 1986's No Retreat, No Surrender, a terrible movie that I greatly enjoyed.  However, my affection for JCVD would grow exponentially with Bloodsport, which was probably far worse than No Retreat, No Surrender even though I enjoyed it far more.  Okay, okay, Bloodsport is probably better than No Retreat, No Surrender, but that's the only movie that it is superior to.  Seriously, Bloodsport isn't really that bad.  Well, actually it is, but movies can be a lot worse, and most bad movies aren't all that fun to watch.  Bloodsport is the epitome of an atrocious motion picture that is extremely entertaining.  Now, I have the benefit of age and maturity at my disposal as I write this review, but I should note that when I first encountered Bloodsport I felt that it was the very definition of a masterpiece.  No, it hasn't aged well, but then it is a product of the 80s, and few things that were deemed exceptional in that loud and zany decade have managed to age well.  Also, as I noted previously, it wasn't any good to begin with--I was just young and foolish when I first saw it.  Anyway, in Bloodsport Van Damme plays Frank Dux, a man who has spent much of his life training to compete in the ultimate martial arts tournament, a gruesome spectacle known as the Kumite.  We know this because we are treated to glimpses of JCVD's training courtesy of flashback sequences highlighted by the sort of filmmaking prowess that wouldn't be deemed worthy of inclusion in a Hallmark movie of the week.  Anyway, Kumite participants have been killed in this vicious test of skill, likely due to the fact that anyone (see Donald Gibb as Ray Jackson) is welcome to compete.  The tournament allows various martial artists (mostly portrayed by actors who don't seem to have a solid grasp of martial arts) to strut their stuff, and many of them display impressive fighting abilities until it's their turn to square off against our limber star.  Then they simply look on in disbelief as Van Damme unleashes his trademark acrobatics, decimating one opponent after another with a series of leaping and spinning kicks.  These haplesss foes cannot block these assaults because blocking Van Damme's trademark spinning kicks isn't in the script.  The movie isn't entirely rooted in thrilling hand-to-hand combat, however, as audiences are also treated to an epic foot-chase where our fit star must somehow outrun Forest Whitaker.  There's also romance, intrigue, and lots of stretching--and the stretching sequences are actually believable.  If it sounds like I'm shitting all over a childhood favorite, well, I guess that I am.  However, I want to make it very clear that I strongly believe that Bloodsport is an entertaining piece of shit. 

Final Grade: C

Bloodsport is an entertaining piece of shit.

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