is a 1988 martial arts action film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme
and Very Loosely Based on a True Story
. The inspiration comes from the life of martial artist Frank Dux, who claims to have entered a secret bloodsport
in the Philippines called the Kumite and is the first westerner to have won the tournament. note
Starting with his childhood he accidentally earns the (mild) respect of an Asian martial arts master, Senzo Tanaka, who uses him merely as a living practice dummy for his son. When the son dies in an accident, Dux convinces Tanaka to teach him his secrets. As an adult Dux grows into a very talented, precise and flexible warrior. Learning of the Kumite, he skips out on some military obligations to participate, bringing him into conflict with his superiors.
This film provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion: Bolo Yeung is readily identified as an opponent of Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon, here as the Big Bad many of his lines come almost directly from that movie. "Impressive, but brick not hit back."
- Artistic License - Martial Arts: Screenwriter Frank Dux claims that the story is based on his own accomplishments, but the choreography is obviously not based on any fight that took place on planet Earth.
- Badass Grandpa: Real Life example; Bolo Yeung was in his 40s in this movie.
- Big "NO!": From Dux as Chong Li prepares to stomp Jackson.
- Brick Break: Dux demonstrates the Dim Mak ("death touch") for the judges to prove Tanaka was his master by breaking the bottom brick in a vertical stack with an overhead strike.
- Chekhov's Skill: Frank learns specifically how to fight while blinded with Tanaka.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Chong Li, "You broke my record, now I break you!"
- Flung Clothing: Dux starts out wearing a traditional gi top; It's damaged in an early fight and discarded in this manner.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop: Good Cop - Helmer, Bad Cop - Rawlins
- Good Old Fisticuffs: Jackson's fighting style.
- Hard Work Montage: Of the below Training from Hell.
- Hot Scoop: Janice Kent.
- It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY:
Lin: That must make you Frank Ducks.
Frank Dux: No, it's Dux.
Lin: Oh, right! Like "put up your dukes."
- Kick the Dog: Chong Li delivers a few of these.
- Martial Arts and Crafts: The African jungle-style fighter uses knife hand chops to knock fruit from trees.
- Martial Arts Headband: Worn by a few fighters.
- Mighty Whitey: Yup.
- Old Shame: Why yes, "Bumbling Government Agent #2" is Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker.
- Open Shirt Taunt: In a legendary example, Frank Dux baits Paco this way, during the climax of the semi finals of the Kumite. Begins with, "Come on! Come on!!"
- Pec Flex: Chong Li does one to intimidate his opponent and mug for the crowd. This was actor Bolo Yeung's specialty
- Rated M for Manly
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Dux does double duty as the blue half to both Jackson and Chong Li's red.
- Replacement Goldfish: With some convincing on his part, Dux becomes one to Tanaka after Shingo's death.
- Stout Strength: Ray Jackson.
- Technology Marches On: Time was not kind to you, Karate Champ.
- Title Drop:
Ray Jackson: That's why they call this thing Bloodsport, kid.
- Token Romance: Janice could've been written out of the film entirely without any real impact, qualifying her fling with Dux as this, especially when you see just how serious she was about it; growing friendliness aside, she shows up on the arm of one of the high-roller audience members after Dux tells her off just so she can stay and continue covering the Kumite.
- Training from Hell: Dux suffers a few insane training moments including having his legs stretched out in the air while hanging on rope from the limbs.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Dux. Between the fight scenes, training scenes and bedroom scenes it's easier to count how many times you see him with a shirt than without. On the villains' side, the most clothing Chong Li wears is a cooldown robe.
- You No Take Candle: You can tell English likely isn't Chong Li's first language from some of his taunts:
Chong Li: Very good, but brick not hit back.