Bloodsport

Jean-Claude Van Damme plays army officer Frank Dux (the missiles from Brissiles?), who enters an illegal and exceptionally brutal martial arts contest for reasons which aren’t entirely clear. Probably just for kicks.

With less backstory than a low-grade Tekken character, this is essentially Enter the Dragon for people who don’t like plot or seeing Asians win. It knocks out storytelling in the first round with a confusing and horribly edited set up featuring his training in martial arts clichés by ninjutsu master Senzo Tanaka (Roy Chiao), who drops down dead as soon as the film runs out of things for him to do. This is a round-a-house way for our apparent hero to enter the contest and bludgeon his way to the top, making Kickboxer look like it was written by John le Carré.

What is undeniably good is the martial arts, co-ordinated by the real life Frank Dux, on whose dubious life story the film is based (the existence of both the tournament and his mysterious master are disputed). But the grace of Van Damme’s famous thighs isn’t matched by the clumsy direction and bad 80s synth music, and it needs more than superfast spin kicks to pack a punch. Ultimately Bloodsport offers little but mindless violence, and is the kind of film he made JCVD to apologise for.

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