Newt Arnold’s 1988 Bloodsport was the first major picture that not only brought Jean Claude Van Damme to stardom but showcased his athletic and martial art skills. Performing some pretty intense moves from the helicopter style kicks, splits between two chairs and of course the first encounters of The Muscle From Brussels’s signature 360 round house kick. Jean Claude Van Damme debuted is career portraying an American called Frank Dux. Having been trained Ninjutsu from youth by his Japanese sensei, mentor and father figure, Frank heads to Hong Kong to participate in an illegal underground kickboxing competition. A full deadly body contact tournament which often results to death. Only the world’s best martial artists are secretly invited every five years to take on such a challenge.
This is by far not only one of the greatest Jean Claude Van Damme movies but it paved the way for more incredible martial art films. Bloodsport not only scores for being one of the most violent martial art films but portrays intense chorography. Having been filmed and released in the 80’s Bloodsport also has a fantastic soundtrack. Weird fact, due to limited soundtrack release the Bloodsport soundtrack CD is considered a high collector’s item. Often in auctions it is sold for hundreds of dollars. The soundtrack creates such a magnificent atmospheric vibe that the flashback training montage beats any montage including Sylvester Stallone’s in Rocky. The fighting chorography really did set the level to an all new high. Each fight is as intense, exciting and exhilarating as the last. We all know the final showdown with the main ruthless villain Chong Li (Bolo Yeung). The final showdown between Bolo and Jean Claude will always be one of the most terrifying, thrilling and best of all enjoyable fights ever.
We not only saw the birth of the trademark 360 roundhouse kick, shown several times in slow motion. We witnessed a change in martial art films that sadly now has been forgotten. These days most marital art films relay on CGI, pulling cables and trampolines to create a fight scene that would need weeks of planning. Bloodsport had no CGI, no cable, no trampoline but only real stunts, real hits and was filmed in half a day. Everyone who watched Bloodsport will always remember the iconic fight sequences with Jean Claude and Bolo. No scream will ever shadow the roar of Jean Claude when being blinded by Bolo with a handful of quicklime, and the unforgettable moment when Jean Claude had to purely rely on his senses to win the fight. Better still we witness the birth of the trademark 360 roundhouse kick.
Jean Claude Van Damme’s Bloodsport become an inspirational movie for a whole generation that paved the way for future marital art films. This movie not only set the bar for other martial art films but it became a cult movie. From North America to South America, Europe to the Middle East and Asia, Bloodsport is intentionally loved. There is only two other martial artists in the world that has gained the same level of respect; Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Jean Claude Van Damme was the final piece that bridged both West and East cultures together. Bloodsport was the martial art film that finally showed the world that you don’t have to come from the Far East to be a martial artist movie star.