Before Jean-Claude Van Damme became a world-famous actor, he was an unknown martial artist struggling to find a Hollywood gig. In fact, he was originally cast as the The Predator in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Predator.
When he saw the ridiculous red suit, though, Van Damme was not a happy camper. After realizing he was pretty much a glorified stunt man on set, the future action movie star backed out.
A year later, he landed his first leading role in Bloodsport. The film follows Frank Dux, an American martial artist who leaves the army to fight in an underground martial arts tournament in Hong Kong.
It sounds insane, yes. But nonetheless this ridiculous plot provides for a wildly entertaining film. Strangely enough, the movie is (apparently) based on a true story.
In fact the real Frank Dux was the “fighting coordinator” for the film. When he heard that Jean-Claude Van Damme landed the starring role, Dux complained that he was not in good enough shape. Before shooting, the unrelenting Dux put him through an intense 3-month program that Van Damme would later call “the hardest training” of his life.
Of course, as you get deeper into the film, it becomes less and less believable that this is all a true story. First off, Frank Dux is a military captain that just up and leaves the base where he’s stationed. No one stops him. Then, there’s the whole underground, fight-to-the-death tournament in China.
But, like all 80’s action flicks, Bloodsport requires a little more suspension of disbelief than usual. Personally, I love the cheesiness of the Segal and Van Damme movies. But, I totally understand why others do not.
However, Bloodsport is one of the few types of these films that is different. It brings many redeeming qualities to the table. Good direction. A strong soundtrack. A classic action movie villain in Chong Lee. And, get this, they didn’t use a single stuntman!
Bloodsport is 92 minutes of wild, non-stop entertainment.
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