Dec 11, 2009
The Plot: In Hong Kong, there is an underground tournament where the most skilled fighters in the world come together in order to challenge one another in a deadly game of mortal combat. The year is 1989 and it looks like Chong Li (Bolo Yeung) is set to take the crown, but Masahiko Kai (Yasuaki Kurata) watches on and will have his revenge. Two years prior he had found his personal protege. A young Caucasian kid (Stuart Smith) who was running with some pretty rough crowds. However, Masahiko saw potential in the young man and knew that he could be a great fighter. So he takes him in only to find you can take the thug out of the streets but you can’t take the streets out of the thug. When Masahiko stumbles upon his young student trying to assault a young couple, he finds an even better student in Ryu Tenmai (Simon Yam). He does not want to learn the martial arts, but when he is attacked again by the same group and beaten he must have his revenge and so starts their partnership. What transpires in these two years wll define Masahiko’s life and journey.

The Review: Bolo Yeung, what can you say about the guy? He’s this gigantic monstrosity of a man, a living breathing muscle that was born to play the bad guy. He’s just so huge he absolutely makes a mark in any role he takes no matter how bad it might be. With that said, here we are with 1989’s epic Bloodsport ripoff: Bloodfight. You know it’s Bloodfight when you see the red font that states it ever so plain during the intro. We’re talking about the plainest of the plain type that was oh so common in cheap straight to video flicks back in the eighties. The very next thing you may notice are the names continually popping up during the credits. If you’re fairly familiar with Japanese or Chinese name structure, you should take note of all the Japanese names involved in the production. So we’ve got all of these Japanese backers, shooting a movie in Hong Kong and everyone is speaking English even though it isn’t their first language. So, in the first ten minutes I found myself getting more and more excited. It’s everything you could hope for in a cheap knockoff video. This is going to be so off the wall and silly that I’ll be able to brag about it to all of my film geek buddies! Right? Well, not exactly. It’s the additions to the formula that unfortunately seem to sink this one. If only it had been more focused on being a cheesy ripoff rather than having an original idea behind it – it could have at least been fun to watch. It could have been that outrageous rip off that you show to all of your friends for a good laugh. As is though, it’s better to watch it and keep your finger on the fast forward button

Thankfully the movie doesn’t seem to last all that long and it really doesn’t take long to get into the action. I’m not kidding, it jumps right in there. The first ten minutes of the movie doesn’t even feature one word of dialogue, it’s all fight scenes for the most part. Starting with scenes that are directly lifted out of Bloodsport itself, including the famous bit where we meet all of the various fighters. We even get a monkey style fighter and a sumo wrestler, just like in Bloodsport. As stated previously though, if the film had stuck to doing this right it could have been a “so bad it’s good” kinda flick, but unfortunately right after those first ten minutes we go into flashback mode and the story doesn’t come anywhere close to being that awesome for another forty minutes. We have a ton of very cheesy melodrama that unfolds for us and I had essentially gave up hope at this point. I figured we’d have a lot of really bad drama with a concluding fight scene that truly would not live up to the hype. Thankfully though, we do get the return of Bolo and the ripping off of Bloodsport does get its chance to continue. We even get Bolo Yeung in the ring, after brutalizing a fighter, taking a bandanna from his head and waving it around to the audience just like in the Frank Dux masterpiece. Truly amazing that Bolo would sign on to do something that rips off another role of his so much, but I guess if you need the money bad enough…

For the ninety minutes that the movie lasts, there are about thirty minutes of it that are really worth talking about. Not that I look down on drama or decent character study, but here its done so poorly you really just want to drone out and wait for the next funny bits to happen. This is exactly what I felt when watching. Just a continual hope that the movie will make good on all of its promise of being an action packed, silly piece of fluff eighties action cinema. As a work of dramatic fiction, it just doesn’t begin to function properly. Mostly due to the odd performances and an infinite number of choices made during production. It’s hard to really come down hard on the cast because I know it’s not entirely their fault. Simon Yam, who is probably one of the best members of this cast, even he doesn’t get to put in a really great performance here. Yam usually doesn’t disappoint either. The young lady who plays Yam’s girlfriend also did a pretty decent job. They’re all overshadowed by the first disciple of Masahiko, played beyond compare by Stuart Smith. I don’t remember the character he plays ever being called by a name during the movie, which is weird since if anyone deserves special note in this movie it’s him. Regardless… he is AMAZING in his role. This may be the most over the top, ridiculous and terrible performance I have ever seen. It defies all that cinema has ever accomplished and spits in the face of all professional actors the world over. The guy reacts to everything like he’s just been told someone slept with his wife. Someone offers him free food? I WOULDN’T FEED THIS TO A DOG!!! Someone offers him free training at a gym? WHAT A DUMP!!! What about when a police officer mildly insults him? YOU BASTARD!!! This guy probably doesn’t deserve any other acting gigs, but I hope some day he comes out of retirement to blow all of our minds.

The story actually isn’t as contrived as you would expect from a movie as poor as this one generally is. There’s actually room in this script to make a fairly interesting movie if they got rid of all the Bloodsport references and shot the film in the native language of the actors. However, there’s just a massive amount of variables that got in the way and THIS is the movie that came about. It does have some silly little additions that keep it interesting. There’s the synth rock soundtrack and the endless stealing from Bloodsport. I personally find it hilarious that they didn’t even change Bolo Yeung’s character name from that film. Even though they change his look up slightly by placing a very fake looking snake tattoo on his forehead. Then, for those who might be wondering, Bolo doesn’t actually throw any mysterious powder into his enemies eyes this time around. No way, that would be far too easy. He does however use glass on his fists in a direct rip off of another Jean Claude Van Damme masterpiece: Kickboxer. At that point I just buried my head in my hands. It is on one hand an extremely cheap ploy by the writer in order to cash in on the popularity of Jean Claude’s popularity, but at the same time it’s one of the best moments of the movie because it’s so unintentionally hilarious. Oh if only the rest of it were more like this!

Even though I think it’s overall a bad movie and not one I recommend highly, I’m going to give it a two out of five. I debated whether or not it deserved a one out of five, but I think it deserves the extra point simply for the balls it has in brazenly ripping off Bloodsport. No fear of lawsuits here for some reason! You can find the film in the Fists of Vengeance box set from Mill Creek. You’ll get it as well as 15 other varying degrees of Martial Arts awfulness, but some of it is actually worth having. I seriously doubt you’ll find this to be one of the better flicks in this four disc set though.