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Jun 25

Bloodsport II

bloodsport2Genre: Action
Year: 1996
Country: USA

Director: Alan Mehrez
Starring: Daniel Bernhardt, Pat Morita, Donald Gibb, James Hong, Lori Lynn Dickerson

 

Caught between honor and revenge, how far will one man go…

 

I remember when my cousin rented this on video back when it first came out. My cousin is a huge Jean-Claude Van Damme movie and was greatly disappointed when it turned out that he wasn’t even in the movie. If you look at the movie poster it sure looks like Van Damme would be in this, but nope, instead it’s Daniel Bernhardt who plays the lead in this sequel that came out 8 years after the first Bloodsport. Not only does Bernhardt look like Van Damme but he resembles him when he fights aswell, but at least he is a great fighter.

Bernhardt plays Alex Cardo, an arrogant thief who successfully steals an ancient «katana» (sword) but gets set up by his partner in crime John (played by Philip Tan) and goes to jail. His arrogant behaviour does not last long in the eastern jail and he quickly becomes an enemy to the chief guard Demon (Ong Soo Han) and he is saves from a brutal attack by Master Sun (James Hong) who starts to teach Alex about the right path in life.

To honour his new teacher, Alex has decided to enter the Kumite tournament to show his dedication and respect for his teacher. He is also determined to deliver back the sword he stole since it belong to the tournament. This is all told by Master Sun to his new students who are a bunch of kids and this storytelling both starts and rounds up the movie.

And that’s pretty much the full basis of the movie (I ignored the brief romance scenes that were thrown in). Most of the time is spent in the tournament ring where we see all kinds of fighters with different techniques battling it out on each other. The fighting is good and is the best part of the movie. Bernhardt does a good job at being a Van Damme clone and I’m surprised to learn that he hasn’t done a lot more of these types of movies. He did do Bloodsport 3 and 4, but you would think that there would be a market for more martial art movies with someone who looks like Van Damme and is great at fighting. He does a good job at being both a sleazy thief in the beginning and is a good hero at the end so that shows acting range I guess.

Ong Soo Han delivers a great performance as the bad guy. He is also someone who should have been in more movies than he has. A quick peek on his IMDB page only lists up eight movies which is not nearly enough for a good bad guy like him. Apparently he works at a four season hotel in Bangkok now. More celebrities also pops up in this movie. James Hong is of course one of the most known chinese actors in Hollywood. Pat Morita will always be remembered as Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid movies. Donald Gibb is of course the guy who played Ogre in the Revenge of the Nerds movies and also a bunch of other 80’s flicks. His character Tiny in this movie is the only connection, except the Kumite, to the first Bloodsport movie.

Putting the great fighting and b-movie celebs aside, there is negative aspects to this movie aswell. There is some dialogue that is totally out of place and just plain weird («Alex, you’re a true warrior!»), the spectators at the Kumite was obviously paid locals who was supposed to cheer and bet money on the contestants. The problem is that if you focus on them you will see that a lot of them are not exactly very cheerful and enthusiastic at being there and most look like they couldn’t afford to bet a bowl of rice and certainly not any money. And what’s with the pink jumpsuits in the jail?

I should however also mention that this is the first movie that Alan Mehrez has directed. His career didn’t skyrocket after this though, he did get to direct the third Bloodsport and was a producer on the fourth. Other than Bloodsport, he has been involved in a few other movies that no one has heard about.

You do accept certain errors with movies like this though and you have to if you want to enjoy them. Bloodsport 2 is above most other type of fighting tournament movies from this time period and considering that it’s also a sequel I would say they did a good job at this. I had just as much fun watching it today as I did when it first came out. My cousin and a lot of others might be disappointed that there’s no Van Damme in it, but it’s still a good action movie.

 

 ★★★☆☆ 

 

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