BLOODSPORT (1988) directed by Newt Arnold
Man, is this really necessary?
Thousands of reviews must`ve been written about this…but hell, I´ll add my 2 cents anyway.
This film singlehandedly made me into a VAN DAMME nut for years to come. I´ve cooled down since then,
but boy, have I spend money on this guy, you have no idea.
It made me start up karate and I collected every snippet on JCVD I could possibly find,
sometimes buying magazines for a single page story, etc. etc.
I worked in a cinema for years and got my hands on all the posters, banners and
in one case a 35 mm film roll of the trailer to UNIVERSAL SOLDIER 2.
I won`t spend time to tell you the plot, as you should know it by now…
As a teenager, these kind of films made a huge impression on me, as did Rocky or Rambo or anything Arnold.
Van Damme couldn`t have asked for a better entry into the realm of action stars, this film was much debated between us teens, and wars broke out over who would/could possibly kick his ass? Chuck Norris? Bruce Lee, The Hulk? Bud Spencer?
The craziest thing I have ever heard about VAN DAMME was this: That he implanted rubber bands into his legs…hellyeah…sure…
Not long ,before I was an expert about anything VAN DAMME. I tried to track down his early works, in most cases with success, one or two left open to debate, still. I ended up owning a collection worth showing off to even the most hardcore fans. I imitated him and all that..looking back, a little ridiculous, but that`s what teenagers do, don`t they….
Can`t hurt to have an idol or two, as long as it isn`t Charles Manson. VAN DAMME polarized, just like AXL ROSE or BORIS BECKER, some loved them some hated their guts..and I ended up defending him, taking it pretty personal sometimes..also something you have to and will grow out of….
What makes Bloodsport so great and made it leave such a huge impression on a whole genre, like only Bruce Lee did before that, are the diverse fights( MMA and mixed martial arts are common now, back then it was quite exotic), the fatherly trainer, the perfect hero and a great villain. Add a few funny secret agents and a buddy ( Jackson) , and you have a perfect 90 minutes action flick. I must not forget the fighters themselves, a pretty colorful bunch. Also, the soundtrack wasn`t half bad. Typical 80`s aggro music that set the tone for the fights, plus asian sounds for authenticity. It is pure late 80`s action kitsch in perfection. It spawned an insane number of Bloodsport wannabe`s and birthed a new breed of action heroes, from Olivier Gruner to Don”The Dragon” Wilson etc…
Although my fanaticism has cooled down a lot, Bloodsport remains an unapolagetic personal favourite of mine.
I could go on writing about the production and lots of other details, but since this is all easy to access via Wkipedia or Google I shall spare you that . You probably know most of it already. One thing I will mention, though:
Van Damme took this film and recut it to the version we all know, after it got rejected by the studio, ending up in the vault. Thanks to him this film got saved from the trash, so to speak. For that we should salute him, or else we would`ve missed out on one of the most entertaining martial arts films in history and the subsequent flood of similar films and their stars. Thanks JC.. and thanks Newt Arnold, for images burned forever in my brain.
You Jackson? You look like a Jackson.