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RETRO REVIEW:
BLOODSPORT.

By Sean Carless

YEAR: 1988.
STARRING: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Donald Gibb, Forest Whitaker, Bolo Yeung.
RATED: R; For Violence, Nudity, Mullets.
 
It is the year of our lord, 1988. A truly glorious time. A time where sunglasses were the size of solar panels and t-shirts changed magical colors! A time where all the best parties were in the back, whilst business was always on top. A time where you could wear a muscle shirt (despite having no muscles), a fanny pack and the biggest fucking pair of zebra-striped Zubaz pants you've ever seen in your life, and still not get punched right in the face for being a complete douchebag. It was truly a great time to look ridiculous. No one would dare tell US that our red faux-leather jackets with 60 zippered pockets were not as tremendously cool as we thought they were-- because we were clueless. I mean, we wore pink shirts with Alligators over the big floppy pockets for fuck sakes. What did we really know? Not much, it turns out. For we were sheltered from the harsh realities that were yet to come. Those harsh realities? Well, we all looked like shit for one. That was a given. And despite President Reagan's bold claims on economic reform, the only thing to "trickle down" into my stylin' acid-wash-laden pockets were big balls of lint. However, there were other revelations to come, with ramifications so deep that they were like a really witty parable of something being really deep that I can't think of. And they shook my generation to its very neon-jammer wearing cores. It was a scene, man.
 
For example; as it turns out--get this-- Milli Vanilli--the same two guys who couldn't speak a lick of English without sounding like Arnold Schwarzenegger with severe mental retardation--yet, could sing in flawless melodic English accents-- were actually FRAUDS and sang NOTHING. It's true. And despite their unintelligible thick German cries, on this day, the Rain could NOT be Blamed this time. It was shocking. Almost as shocking as discovering that milky-white rap-meister, Vanilla Ice actually had no discernable talent whatsoever. SAY IT AIN'T SO. It was a crushing blow surely for those of us fledgling mullet-heads convinced that he was in fact the "real deal"... and dreamt of a day in which people would utter the name "Ice" with the same clout, reverence and respect as "Sinatra", "Elvis" and "Maestro Fresh Wes". Not to be.
 
Heartbreak was all around us, friends. Heroes were falling, and not even their omnipresent parachute pants could save them. As the 90's began, it was now a world of mistrust and cynicism. A world where once proud sex symbols like George Michael were soliciting blowjobs at roadside homosexual rest-stops, as people questioned just how a man with a feathered 'do, eye make-up and billowing chest hair could actually turn out to be GAY. You know, before they went back to eating their pureed food for their own safety. It was truly the end of the innocence. The last can of Tab was opened like the proverbial Pandora's Box and nothing but anguish and women's blouses with shoulder pads so huge they'd even bowl over Refrigerator Perry spilled out. A new decade was indeed at hand. The party in the back was indeed cut short. Given way to a  new age of yellow peroxide-bleached hair, ridiculous doctor scrubs pants and a completely jaded disposition. Who could have possibly seen this all coming, I asked? Everyone on Earth except me? Perhaps.
 
However, besides frauds, phonies, secret homosexuals, and high fashion that is only kept alive today by clueless Pro Wrestlers, the 1980's were at least a proud a staple of one more phenomenon that has yet to see a full resurgence: THE ACTION MOVIE. Or more importantly, the Martial Arts Action Movie. And leading the charge in 1988 was Jean-Claude Van Damme. The man who singlehandedly taught a world of movie goers that in order to truly master your craft, you needed only two things: the ability to nonsensically do the splits and elevate your testicles perpendicular to the ground; and an adversary willing to stand completely still in slow motion whilst you deliver a completely telegraphed spinning kick. That's it. It's really that easy. Trust me.
 
This finally takes us to perhaps Van Damme's most well known film:  BLOODSPORT. The alleged true story of Frank Dux; the first westerner to win the "Kumite" mixed-martial arts tournament. An honor that got you...something? I don't know. They built this whole fucking thing up, and then all Van Damme got was a lousy sword. Ya, that was definitely worth the in-tournament deaths and broken necks. Shoot for the stars, guys.
 
Now, Bloodsport is remembered as a classic...by me...and only me; and well, upon 2nd viewing 20 years later, I'm starting to think my mother secretly embedded my breakfast cereal with chips of lead paint. I don't know what I was thinking. Not much, if this haircut is any indication.
 
Now, as for the movie itself. It's simple. Bloodsport is just your basic grown man with a child's haircut who speaks with a thick Belgian accent despite living 95% of his life in America, honoring his Shidoshi's dead son by pretending to be Japanese and learning to do the splits and serve tea blindfolded, and then using his blind butler skills to win a tournament by kicking a giant Chinese dude with a mullet in slow motion for apparently no reward whatsoever. You know, that same old story.
 
Now, I could give you the straight movie blow-by-blow, but holy shit that'd be tedious. It'd read like "then Dux kicked this guy with black pants. Then he kicked this Arab guy named Paco (His Iraqi cousins "Jorge" and "Ricardo" must have not been available). Then he kicked a fat Japanese guy with a porn mustache. Then he kicked a bunch of other guys! Then he got blinded by a guy. Then he kicked that guy, too. And then he went home." So, ya, I think I'll just give you the quick & dirty version.
 
The story starts off with young Frank Dux and friends breaking into a Japanese house. (and there's definitely a lot of bamboo/paper houses in southern California! Oh wait.). The trio grab a sword from a stand, then they flee, leaving Dux holding the sword and the proverbial bag. This brings in the owner of the house, Master Tanaka and his young son, who proceeds to kick the shit out of Dux despite his claims of innocence and not even trying to run or fight. Ya, lot of honor young Tanaka has there. Eventually, Tanaka agrees to train Dux, but basically uses him as a punching bag for own son. That is, until Dux saves young Tanaka from bullies at school. Which of course draws the question, how could Dux gets his ass kicked so severely by this diminutive Oriental boy every day, then suddenly have the moxy to run off the bullies that are beating on the same kid who so regularly hands him his own ass? Ya.
 
Anyway, we fast forward to Dux's adulthood where he visits Master Tanaka. It turns out Tanaka's son is dead. They don't say how. I hope it's AIDS. I don't even know why. This turn of events saddens Master Tanaka, as his hope to force his small son to compete in a death tournament for no monetary reward has now been quashed. OR HAS IT. Because, Dux volunteers to take his place! Tanaka is immediately disgusted, spewing the same visceral anger that the Korean grocery clerk does in your local Bodega when you try and read the magazines in the display. "You're not even Japanese!", Tanaka cries, to which Van Damme answers "It's Ok; I can't act for shit either, but that didn't stop people from casting me for 20 years! It'll all work out! Trust me!". I might be paraphrasing here. Soon, Tanaka warms to the idea, after Dux says he wants to finish his training to "honor him". But I really think it's so he can bum some of Tanaka's silk pajamas. I know it'd be that way for me. I don't think I've seen this Tanaka in one pair of slacks this whole movie. What a swanky motherfucker. He's like a really angry Japanese Hugh Hefner. Only he ties your legs to trees and beats you with sticks, instead being surrounded by gorgeous nude women.
Tanaka then begins Dux's training, which, as alluded to, sees him be tied to two trees, leg first and stretched; so, in the event one of his opponents in the tournament have some rope and two palm trees, DUX WILL SO BE READY FOR THAT SHIT IT'LL NOT EVEN BE FUNNY. Bring it on, motherfuckers. Also, it has to be said, Tanaka's training methods, like Mister Miyagi in Karate Kid, are somewhat suspect. As they too involve THANKLESS CHORES with the thought that by doing these meandering jobs, somehow this'll teach you a level of martial arts mastery no kind of physical contact EVER could. In this case, unlike Miyagi with car waxing and house painting, Tanaka has Dux serving he and his wife breakfast blindfolded. I'm really starting to think these old Japanese guys have a scam going where they hornswaggle young people into free manual labor in exchange for "secret training". It's just like every other old person out there, only way more clever.  "After you're done waxing my car, and thus learning Karate, cut the grass...and then you'll know Kung-Fu!". Ya.
 
Anyway, years have passed, and Dux, now enlisted in the military, wants to go on leave to compete in the Kumite tournament. The brass in charge obviously refuse. Perhaps if he hadn't made it so clear that he was competing in a SECRET ILLEGAL DEATH TOURNAMENT, they may have warmed up to the idea. I guess "I'm going to go visit my sister in Wyoming" never crossed his mind. So, needless to say, Dux has to go AWOL, and sneaks out the shower-room window, easily escaping the ONE guard on the base, and fleeing the entire place without being seen. Note to Terrorists. If you're looking to plan an assault, you might want to try THIS base. If they have their entire crack security unable to stop one naked Belgian dude running for the hills, I don't think they're going to be none the wiser to your plots. Call it a hunch.
 
Anyway, in the interim, the military sends two men to reclaim Dux. One of which is Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker and his lazy eye. He's tried to get it to show better ambition, but some eyes just want to always take the easy way out. What can I say.
 
We are now in Hong Kong, and Dux meets Ray Jackson, (Ogre from the Revenge of the Nerds movie) on a bus to the Kumite. I'd bring up the incredible unlikely odds that the only two Americans in the competition happened to be on the same bus going to the same tournament at the same exact time, but that'd just be absurd. Almost as absurd as how high Jean-Claude wears his pants here. Seriously, the guy must buckle his belt over his nipples. Insanity. My guess is that by wearing his pants so high, he lessens the chance of getting hit below the belt in the tournament, because come on, a shot to the chest won't hurt that much. And speaking of wearing pants extraordinarily high, whilst in the hotel with Jackson, he runs into a female reporter in search of info on the secret tournament--Janice Kent, whom like him, apparently shares a love of pants to armpit levels. They could make some beautiful babies one day. Who'll then suffocate because they're diapered up to their faces. Dux, then interrupts another fighter named Hossein, who is trying to pick up Janice. Hossein, for the record, is sporting perhaps the most unfortunate ears I think I've ever seen. Think that alien that rides shotgun with Lando Calrissian in Jedi. Dux's big solution here is to play a game of chance to see who'll get to potentially violate this sweet blue-eyed mid-western woman. Well, that sure beats the shit out of Paper, Rock, Scissors. Dux bets Hossein that he can grab a coin out of his hand before he closes his fist, and Hossein agrees--and loses. Then he just bows out graciously? Holy shit, apparently the prospect of Van Damme's vaudevillian magic trick was just too much for this poor bastard. Imagine the sheer damage he could do with actual bills! Ahem.
 
That said, to the victor goes the spoils. Dux and Janice got out to dinner where she tries to coax him into letting her into watch the Kumite. "I heard it's like human cockfighting!", she says, and Dux responds "no, we actually wear pants". Ok, he didn't say that, but he should have. He then turns down her request to attend the event, citing that the event is for the fighters not the people who read newspapers. But what if the fighters read newspapers, I ask, looking for a high five that never comes because I'm alone. So very, very alone. Dux however offers her a chance to attend his special CUMite, and despite her objection to his chauvinistic contest earlier, she does the lady-like thing here and puts out on the first date! Who knew that your idiot grandfather's coin tricks could potentially lead to pussy. All I need to do now is incorporate his tales of walking 3000 miles to school bare-foot in snow and she'll probably give the green-light on anal.
Oh, and speaking of the sex, when the film began, I noticed the disclaimer warning "SOME SCENES MAY CONTAIN NUDITY" (May contain?! I need to know for sure!), and once she came into the film I thought "all right, all right, all right, I don't think I'd be against her taking off her clothes as the kids are wont to say these days"...but oh my god, THE HORRORS. There was nudity here, sure, but not a flash of female skin was exposed. Instead, we were subjected to the ever-so-brief shot of Van Damme snapping a pair of bikini briefs over his hairless cornhole. If you had an erection before in preparation for Janice's big scene, it's since relocated to your abdomen now. If it wasn't for my glorious giant balls, I'd look just like a Ken doll.
 
TOURNAMENT TIME~! Held in a secret Hong Kong slum...a slum that happens to have a fully lit arena inside with giant scoreboards and electricity and hundreds of chairs. I didn't know that's how slums work. Thank god they've managed to keep this on the down-low. No one in living in extreme poverty would ever  notice 10 trucks rolling in and unloading millions of dollars worth of equipment and a giant 75 foot canvas half-pipe. Not a chance.
 
Dux and Jackson arrive and are introduced to their sponsor Mr. Lin and officially sign up...but there's some problems with Dux's clan (Tanaka). Yet, surprisingly they have no problem signing up the big redneck Biker, Jackson, despite him having no clan affiliation. Well, besides maybe Ku Klux. Dux then convinces them to allow him to show the Tanaka trademark "death touch" on a pile of bricks to prove his worth. Man. It's a good thing they had this completely random pile of bricks just stacked there, or maybe Dux would have been turned away! Lucky him! The referee demands he break the bottom brick, which he does without shattering any of the top ones, PHYSICS BE DAMNED. Now, just watch, the guy, despite having this ability, will likely only use itonce in the whole tournament, and instead expend needless energy fighting traditionally. It's kind of like how The Undertaker can summon lightning at will, but instead always just wrestles instead of incinerating people. Dear god.
 
Oh, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this was the first time we see the film's antagonist Chong-Li, played by Bolo Yeung. As it turns out, Bolo was actually FIFTY here. I had no idea Bolo Yeung was so Bolo Old. HOLY SHIT, PUNS. Chong-Li is impressed by Dux's brick shattering, but utters his first of three pieces of dialogue in the film : "Very good. But bricks not hit back!". I'd have hit him with a brick just to confuse the situation and perhaps make him reconsider his stance. But hey, that's just me.
 
The tournament has started~! The rules are as follows: a winner is determined by knockout, submission, throwing a man from the platform, and in the case of a tie, a spirited inner-city dance off. But the things is...you won't know what kind of music you'll be straight steppin' to. Oh shit, I think I changed the channel by accident. Umm, just the first three.
 
A myriad of fighters then go at it, with only several obviously being meant to stand out. One of which is this really annoying hunched-over bobbing-and-weaving African bushman. I love how this guy had the wear-with-all to obviously charter a plane from Buttfuck Africa, but can't walk upright. Good times.
 
We then learn that Chong-Li holds the fastest knock out record, so of course Dux has to break it. And Dux's first opponent? HOSSEIN, who is still reeling from the slight of hand the previous night. Hossein is as adept at fighting as he is, umm, closing his hand, and gets knocked the fuck out in under 10 seconds. NEW WORLD RECORD. Chong-Li is not pleased. And later he takes his rage out on his opponent, killing him. I'm guessing his Dojo doesn't have a great new customer turn-over. Call me crazy. Jackson then gets Chong-Li's dander up further by calling him out after destroying his opponent with a BRAIN CHOP~!  "I'm coming for you man! Ya, you!", says Jackson. Chong's reaction is initially hilarious, reading like the school fat girl being asked to dance by the cutest boy in her class, then getting spurned. His face immediately turns to unadulterated festering hate. I love this man, his bitchin' mullet/headband combo, and his impossibly disturbing pectoral muscles.
 
With the first day wrapped up, we see the MP's coming for Dux, who give chase through Hong Kong. The whole thing views like a Mentos commercial:
 
During day two, we see more fights in a quick musical sequence. I'd go into it more, but holy shit this tune is catchy. KUMITE. KUMITE. KUMITE....
 
 
Anyway, we continue and, wait, holy shit, is that Grace Jones? Who let this bitch in the tournament? The tournament is in full swing, with Dux soundly defeating several fighters. Oh, and annoying African Bushman gets destroyed by the angry mustachioed Sumo. Makes sense. I mean, really. If all native Africans were this bad ass, there'd never have been slavery! AMIRITE. We'd all be bringing them water on our heads over there right now!
 
From there, some more random dudes advance, and Jackson gets maimed by Chong-Li, who gets handled by Ogre early, but he doesn't finish. Chong then takes the big man's knee out and curb stomps him. "YOU. ARE. NEXT." This upsets Janice, who has since snuck into the tournament as an escort. Man, for a woman who so desperately wanted to get into this fucking thing, she sure gets revolted easily. What did she think Roosters did again in Cockfights?
 
Anyway, she's so disturbed, she later tries to orchestrate a plan with the MP's to capture Dux and send him back to the U.S., so he doesn't get hurt. But in true Three Stooges fashion, the duo accidentally taser the Hong Kong cops that attempt to assist them, and Dux beats the fuck out of them with his NINJA DUFFLEBAG OF DEATH. Seriously, the guy's fucking dirty laundry just took out about 8 people. Holy shit, this whole movie isn't exactly a glowing tribute to our armed forces.
 
On the bus ride home, Dux can't stop thinking about Chong-Li, and even hallucinates he's on the bus with him! Fucking hilarious. Super villains tend to lose their mystique when you picture them in everyday situations. I mean, what's next, Chong-Li spotted haggling over the price of fruit at the Super Market?
 
Chong-Li: "YOU. BOY WITH THE BANANAS. YOU. ARE. NEXT".
Stock boy: "Umm, you want me to price these?".
Chong-Li: "Would you? That'd be fantastic! Err, I mean, YOU WILL. OR I WILL BREAK YOU".
 
 
The final day of fights~! And the MP's confront Dux, but ultimately let him compete, under the promise he return with them after it's over. Seriously though, why is this one motherfucker worth all this trouble? I mean, the dude wasn't even at war. He was just chillaxing on the base kicking a speed bag in an unsightly one piece unitard. What was so pertinent about getting this guy back ASAP?
 
Anyway, the tournament final comes down to, you guessed it, Frank Dux vs. Chong Li after Dux advanced over Paco the Mexican Arab and the giant Sumo dude, by death punching him right in the bag. Mrs. Sumo will not be pleased. The next time she goes down on him, his dick will turn to powder like an unraveled Mummy. How dare Dux take away his chance to father some really big ugly children.
 
Dux and Chong-Li make their way for the final fight, but Chong-Li has some words first: "YOU BREAK MY RECORD, NOW I BREAK YOU, LIKE I BREAK YOUR FRIEND". Bolo Yeung is clearly a wordsmith. He speaks to me. In stilted syllables.
 
KUMITE! KUMITE! KUMITE! We are under way! And holy shit, Chong Li is taking off his pants. That can't be good for business. Maybe Janice will get to see the kind of cockfighting she wanted after all.  In actuality, Chong is wearing Jackson's headband around his knee to torment Dux. The biggest irony of this fight though is, that earlier when Jackson was fighting Chong-Li, Dux gave the advice "stick to the body! He's soft there!"...yet, as soon as he fights the guy himself, he just tries to kick him in the head. Jesus Christ.
Anyway, Dux dominates from the onset, so Chong-Li takes a page from MR. FUJI'S PLAYBOOK, and throws salt in Dux's eyes! YES. If it's good enough for Bret Hart, it's good enough for this joker. Hilariously enough, Referee Kareem Abdul Jabbar here apparently didn't see a thing, despite the cloud of white residue, Dux stumbling around like Frankenstein, rubbing his eyes and throwing kicks to thin air. The wrestling tie-in is now complete. 
 
Chong-Li then goes to work--and for only 1/8th what an American makes! budumcha-- and Dux is down...long enough to have a complete flashback sequence! Good thing Chong-Li has the courtesy to let him toggle through 20 years of random memories! That's nice. Dux digs deep, and remembers his time blindfolded and how Master Tanaka taught him to grab fish right out of the pond with his BARE HANDS. Sure, that doesn't help him fight for shit, but if there ever comes a time when he and Chong are trapped on a desert island and really hungry, guess who's eating and who isn't! I'm telling you.
 
At this point, Dux is yelling really loud and contorting all his muscles. If I didn't know any better, I'd think he was squat-shitting right on the podium. I mean, why not? They already alluded to Chong being soft in the stomach. Maybe he'll throw up and then slip on the vomit and knock himself out, and Ray Charles here will get his fucking sword and call it a night already. But alas, as in all movies of this ilk, you are ALWAYS way more dangerous when you're blinded, so Dux blocks Chong's finishing blow and goes back on offense. I'll never look at and completely ignore the blind the same way again. Lest I find that he was trained by a sadistic Master who ties him to palm trees and makes him serve drinks thus making him unbeatable. Or something.
 
Dux is now a house of fire, and unloads on Chong, but not before demonstrating some pretty sweet Rockette moves! Holy shit! He then leaps into the air, and delivers a slow motion kick of death. I love how no one in Van Damme movies ever even tries to duck these things. "Ya, here comes the kick. I guess I could move. Or I could just stand here still for 10 seconds and take it full force! Ya, I like that. BLARRRGGHHHHH". Dux then makes Chong-Li submit to win the tournament... and like nothing else. Seriously, the guy should have just bought a sword in a pawn shop and brought it to his dying Shidoshi. How'd he have ever known the difference? "Ya, this is to honor you or something. Just let me peel this price tag off, and there we go, perfect!".
 
Dux & Janice are then seen at Jackson's bed side, who miraculously is not even injured and is now drinking beer... in a hospital. Maybe they let you wash down Medical Marijuana with Medical Colt 45 now. I'm not up on current Medicine, I guess. They  then all share a moment, and Dux gives Jackson back his headband and says "next time keep your clothes on". If only the director had the guts to utter this same advice earlier.  Jackson then jokes that next time Dux may have to face him. Note to Jackson: If he looks constipated, he's not! Stay away! It can only end badly for you. Oh, and maybe duck when he floats suspended in the air for like fifteen straight seconds. Jackson then hugs Dux and say "any time, anywhere, you need me, I'm there". Dux then says "Ya, I'm actually moving next week, and I could really use a hand!", but when he turns around Jackson is gone, seen from a distance getting into a running car never to be seen again. There's a chance I made this part up.
Anyway, the film then ends with the MP's waiting for Dux at the airport, but hey now, he's already on the plane! "What's taking you guys so long!", he says. Oh that Dux. Do the laughs ever start.
 
The End.
 
CREDITS~! Did you know Frank Dux has a lot of records~! Fastest knock out! Fastest submission! Fastest fuck on a first date ever. He's a man to be admired. And a man who has apparently invented his very own form of NINJITSU: DUX RYU NINJITSU. Which as far as I'm concerned better involve propelling balls of raw energy at giant electricity-laden green mutants. That 2nd name holds some standards that HAVE to be lived up to, damn it. But hey, good luck with all that "ninjitsu". There's a serious calling for *those guys* in the 21st century. I guess if I see a masked dude drop from the trees and deliver a spin-kick in bullet time, I'll know who's behind it. Live and learn.
 
FINAL THOUGHTS: What did we learn today kids? Chong-Li's feelings get hurt really easily. Perhaps if Jackson had've extended the olive branch of friendship, instead of mocking the man, maybe he'd be able to eat something other than baby food for the next year. Plus, if you want to go on Military leave to compete in a secret tournament where you could potentially die, maybe, just maybe, LIE to your Commanding Officer. Thanksgiving with the Folks > I WANT TO HONOR MY SHIDOSHI~!. Also, if you're the Military Police, and you've fallen into the Ocean, been tasered, kicked, tackled, and injured, maybe just let the fucking guy go. You can always find another man willing to stand around doing nothing of any military value at the base. And finally, it's perfectly normal to unwind and relax after a hard day at the office by doing the splits for no reason on a building roof-top. Some people have a coffee and read a newspaper. Some like to potentially plummet to their deaths spread-eagled. I don't throw stones.
 
That all said, this movie is one of the most absurd things I've ever seen, bar none. But that's why I love it. TWO BRICK-BUSTING PALM-THRUSTS OF DEATH UP~!
 
 
I’m Sean.

Sean Carless is a man of many hats. And he wears those hats to cover an ever-increasing bald spot. Sean's various scribblings have been read at Live Audio Wrestling, 411 Mania, Wrestlecrap, Honky Tonk Man.com, The Toronto Star.com, and Lethal Wrestling. He has also cured AIDS.

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TWF FLASHBACK

November 2006

SATIRE: DISCONTINUED WWE XMAS PRODUCTS!

by Sean Carless

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).