Bolo! Bolo! Bolo! Guilty pleasure No. 1 for me is Bloodsport. Thinking back to my childhood I do believe Bloodsport was the first movie I ever saw. The movie revolves around the story of Frank Dux during his participation in “The Kumite” which is a full contact fighting competition where fighters can be killed. It is an underground bloody elimination style tournament (hence the title Bloodsport). Frank learned martial arts under Tanaka and wants to join “The Kumite” to bring honor to his master’s name. The story is straightforward though and there isn’t much twist in the story. The fighting scenes, however, were well-choreographed and they ultimately complement the movie. If you’re expecting a lot of fight scenes then you won’t get disappointed.
I can say with certainty that Bloodsport is Jean Claude Van Damme’s greatest film. However, that isn’t saying anything. Any scene taken on its own and shown to a film class would get booed. Everything is clunky, stilted and unbelievable. This film does tote one of my favorite villians of all time. Bolo. Bolo does turn to Van Damme after (almost) killing Jackson and says, “You break my record. Now I break you. Like I broke your friend!” I can’t believe that guy was fifty years old.
Bolo is played by Chong Li, who is a huge, vicious Chinese fighter with pecs bigger than his head and a tendency to keep beating on his opponent after the match is over, although this strangely never disqualifies him. Apparently the official punishment for killing your opponent after the match is having the judges turn their backs to you. Bloodsport is an allegory of man’s struggle with himself and his own limitations, as much as a realistic portrayal of Western fighting styles meeting Asian styles.
The direction is lackluster and the acting’s basic yet the movie is entertaining thanks to the young Van Damme’s fearless high-kicking action. Forest Whitaker even stops by for a quick cameo. I must have watched this film probably 200 times or more on VHS when I was a kid and surprisingly enough, it never got old. Now that I am older I appreciate it even more, not for the over the top violence though, I love it for the comedy value of dodgy 80’s high waisted pants and hilariously bad dialogue. Guilty Pleasure No. 1, Bloodsport is a must-own.