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MOVIE REVIEW : 'Bloodsport': A Blow for Cliches

February 29, 1988|LEONARD KLADY

The four most dreaded words that confront a film reviewer are "based upon true events." The phrase is always a euphemism; in the case of "Bloodsport" (citywide)--a rocking, socking martial-arts saga--one can only suspect it means that if the film makers touched upon anything remotely true, it was quite unintentional.

The story centers on an event called the Kumite, a no-holds barred contest held every five years in Hong Kong. Our hero, Frank Dux (Jean Claude Van Damme), is a French-born American schooled in the martial arts by a former Japanese champion. He heads to the Far East to win and to do honor to his teacher, who is awaiting the outcome from his deathbed.

Now, because 90 minutes of fists and feet flying is bound to put an audience to sleep, there's also a love interest--an American reporter (Leah Ayres) trying to get the real story on the event. However, when she gets closer, she can't understand why her man would want to subject himself to such physical torture.

Hacking through the jungle of cliche and reservoir of bad acting in "Bloodsport" (MPAA-rated: R, for excessive violence and language) are some pretty exciting matches. It all boils down to a confrontation between a clean-cut noble warrior and a snorting, apish, dirty fighter. As usual, it's no contest.

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