Martial Arts in Movies – Bloodsport
I have always been interested in the martial arts. When I was younger, it was watching films and TV shows, and as I got older I decided to try my hand at a learning a couple, having been lucky enough to make it to black belt in one while I still was capable.
So I thought to myself, “Hey, why not share some of that love with the rest of the GWW universe?”
Now there were so many directions I considered when writing this, a top 10 of my favorite films, best martial artists, etc. In the end I decided to just picked some of the films that I enjoyed the most, be it because of the star, the type or martial art that they use or just because of the ass kicking enjoyment.
This time around, I chose a film what I believe is a 80’s classic, starring the man known as the ‘Muscles from Brussels’, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and his depiction of Frank Dux in Bloodsport.
The film is inspired by true events, based on the life of Frank Dux. He was serving in the US army, but while he was doing so he wanted to honor his teacher Senzo Tanaka by competing in the Kumite, an underground fighting tournament in Hong Kong, in the place of Tanaka’s deceased son.
The army wouldn’t allow Dux to compete in the Kumite, but undeterred and against orders he flees the US for Hong Kong, and is pursued (sometimes in a comedic way) by Criminal Investigation Command (CID) officers Helmer and Rawlins (played by the familiar face of Forrest Whitaker). I have to admit that the way Dux avoids these two makes you think either they’re in the wrong career or that he is superhuman but for me it just makes it more enjoyable.
Throughout the film, we see lots of flashbacks which fill the viewers in about how and why Dux got to this point in his life. The short version goes like this, as a youngster Frank was caught breaking into Tanaka’s home with some other kids. But instead of just turning him over to police, Tanaka decides that Frank has fighting spirit (which he learns by chopping off the rim of the baseball cap he’s wearing) and tells him that if he helps Tanaka train his son Shingo , that he won’t turn him over to the police. Needless to say that all parties agree and thus begins the journey of young Frank Dux. All of the flashbacks show the way that this training shaped him into the accomplished fighter we later see in action and for me this helps make the film.
Through his journey in Hong Kong Dux is assisted by Lin, who is his liaison whilst in the competition and another American fighter Ray Jackson (played by Donald Gibb). Jackson and Dux build up a tight bond during their time together and this plays a big part in the latter stages of the film when Jackson is beaten (almost to death) by another fighter. This fighter is Chong Li, played by the unforgettable Bolo Yeung, who becomes the nemesis of Dux and of course his final battle.
Along the way, we are treated to some great fight scenes and if you consider this is a film from 1988, the choreography is top notch. Some of my favorite moments during Bloodsport are forever cemented in my memory. The sight of Jackson throwing a competitor of the fight platform followed by “Go home.” Frank Dux and Paco trading body shots, basically the two of them kicking each other in the ribs till one says uncle and the sight of Dux being stretched by Tanaka into a box split. OUCH!
But other than the final fight scene with Chong Li which showboats Van Damme’s brilliant array of kicking, the most memorable part is Frank using a technique called the “dim mak”, which translates into death touch.
Because of Frank attending the Kumite under the invite to Tanaka, he has to prove that he is indeed there to represent the Tanaka clan.To do so he has to use the Dim Mak to break a brick, one that Jackson has chosen. However just as Dux goes to break it, he is stopped by one of the Kumite officials, who instruct him to break the bottom one, THROUGH the ones on top. It’s a completely unbelievable scene but it’s just great to watch.
Bloodsport wasn’t JCVD’s first film, but as far as showcasing his abilities and hitting a mainstream audience, it was easily the one that put him on the map as a martial arts film star, not to mention that it was the one that always made me want to take up martial arts and I doubt that I’m on my own here.
Now if you’ve seen Bloodsport, you’ll read this and instantly know what scenes I’ve spoken about and I hope brought back some good memories and if you haven’t, go get to watching and share this article for everyone to enjoy.
If you have your own favorite martial arts or fighting film let me know, let’s share with the rest of the masses, or strike them down for their ignorance. Whatever way you want to go.