Bloodsport (1988)

R | 92 mins | Drama | 26 February 1988

Director:

Newt Arnold

Producer:

Mark DiSalle

Cinematographer:

David Worth

Editor:

Carl Kress

Production Designer:

David Searl

Production Company:

Cannon Films
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HISTORY

       Bloodsport marked the American film debt of Belgian-born martial arts expert Jean Claude Van Damme. The success of the film helped the resurgence of the martial arts film genre in America and launched Van Damme’s career.
       Principal photography began on 17 Oct 1986 in Hong Kong, China, according to the 11 Nov 1986 HR. It was the first American feature film made in Hong Kong since 1969, the 25 Nov 1986 HR reported. Promotional materials in AMPAS library files indicate that the Kumite which Frank Dux won in 1975 was held in the Bahamas, but producers opted to set the story in Hong Kong because the city was exciting and not “over-exposed” in films. The 7 Mar 1988 HR gave the budget at $2.5 million.
       Bloodsport opened on 123 screens in California, taking in $515,721 in its first three days, the 7 Mar 1988 HR reported. The film was scheduled to open on 600 screens nationwide on 22 Apr 1988.
       While Bloodsport was reported to be based on the life of Frank Dux, the 1 May 1988 LAT investigated some of Dux’s claims and could not verify them. The paper found no evidence that Dux was the first Westerner to win the Kumite or that the sponsoring organization, the International Fighting Arts Association, existed. Dux explained that the organization is clandestine and that Kumites are held in secret, so records would not exist. As for the ceremonial sword he was awarded for winning the Kumite, Dux claimed he traded it to rescue a boatload of orphans in the Philippines. While ... More Less

       Bloodsport marked the American film debt of Belgian-born martial arts expert Jean Claude Van Damme. The success of the film helped the resurgence of the martial arts film genre in America and launched Van Damme’s career.
       Principal photography began on 17 Oct 1986 in Hong Kong, China, according to the 11 Nov 1986 HR. It was the first American feature film made in Hong Kong since 1969, the 25 Nov 1986 HR reported. Promotional materials in AMPAS library files indicate that the Kumite which Frank Dux won in 1975 was held in the Bahamas, but producers opted to set the story in Hong Kong because the city was exciting and not “over-exposed” in films. The 7 Mar 1988 HR gave the budget at $2.5 million.
       Bloodsport opened on 123 screens in California, taking in $515,721 in its first three days, the 7 Mar 1988 HR reported. The film was scheduled to open on 600 screens nationwide on 22 Apr 1988.
       While Bloodsport was reported to be based on the life of Frank Dux, the 1 May 1988 LAT investigated some of Dux’s claims and could not verify them. The paper found no evidence that Dux was the first Westerner to win the Kumite or that the sponsoring organization, the International Fighting Arts Association, existed. Dux explained that the organization is clandestine and that Kumites are held in secret, so records would not exist. As for the ceremonial sword he was awarded for winning the Kumite, Dux claimed he traded it to rescue a boatload of orphans in the Philippines. While records do show that Dux served in the United States Marine Corps from 1975 to 1981, there is no indication that his tour of duty took him outside the United States. However, Dux told the newspaper that his missions were classified and would not be reflected on his records.
       Bloodsport spawned three direct-to-video sequels: Bloodsport II: The Next Kumite (1996), Bloodsport III (1997), and Bloodsport 4: The Dark Kumite (1999). Jean Claude Van Damm did not star in any of the sequels.
       In 2013, Relativity Media announced plans to reboot the series. The 24 Jul 2013 DV reported that James McTeigue would direct the film in Australia and Brazil.


      End credits open with the following statement: “This motion picture is based upon true events in the life of Frank W. Dux. From 1975 to 1980 Frank W. Dux fought 329 matches. He retired undefeated as the World Heavy Weight Full Contact Kumite Champion. Mr. Dux still holds four world records: Fastest Knockout – 3.2 seconds; Fastest Punch with a Knockout – .12 seconds; Fastest Kick with a Knockout – 72 mph; Most Consecutive Knockouts in a Single Tournament – 56. Subsequently, Mr. Dux founded the first American Ninjitsu System, Dux-Ryu.”
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
29 Feb 1988
p. 3, 47.
Daily Variety
24 Jul 2013.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Nov 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 1988
p. 22.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
29 Feb 1988
Calendar, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
1 May 1988
Calendar, p. 4, 10-11.
Variety
2 Mar 1988
p. 112.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
and
as Chong Li
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Cannon International Presents
in a Newt Arnold Film
A Cannon™ Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam asst
Generator op
Key grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Crane op
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Elec
Still photog
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Art asst
FILM EDITORS
Post prod supv
Post prod supv
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
3d asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutting
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Set construction
Carpenter
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Ward asst
Shoes and clothes provided by
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus coord
Sd track eng
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd asst
Sd asst
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff asst
Title des
Title des
Main titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec in charge of prod
Prod consultant -- Hong Kong
Casting
Spec training for Mr. Van Damme
Loc mgr
Casting
Casting asst
Casting asst
Cannon representative
Prod accountant
Scr supv
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Craft serviceman
Craft serviceman
Transportation coord
Equipment and tech services provided by
STAND INS
Fight coord
Stunt coord
Asst stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col
SOURCES
SONGS
“Fight To Survive,” music and lyrics by Shandi and Paul Hertzog, performed by Stan Bush, Stan Bush appears courtesy of Scotti Brothers/Epic Records
“On My Own-Alone, music and lyrics by Shandi and Paul Hertzog, performed by Stan Bush, Stan Bush appears courtesy of Scotti Brothers/Epic Records
“Steal The Night,” written, performed, and produced by Michael Bishop.
DETAILS
Release Date:
26 February 1988
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 26 February 1988
Production Date:
began 17 October 1986
Copyright Claimant:
Cannon Films, Inc., & Cannon International, B.V.
Copyright Date:
27 July 1988
Copyright Number:
PA376421
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Ultra Sound ®
Color
Duration(in mins):
92
Length(in feet):
8,271
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
Hong Kong, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28586
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

United States Marine Corps commando Frank Dux flies to Hong Kong, China, to take part in the Kumite, a free-style martial arts Olympics secretly held every five years by the International Fighting Arts Association. Testing the skills and spirit of the fighters, the Kumite is a brutal championship competition described as “a cockfight …with people.” Frank trained in Ninjitsu under Senzo Tanaka, a Japanese man living in California. Frank and Tanaka’s son, Shingo, were friends as teenagers, but when Shingo died in an automobile accident, Tanaka had no heir to which he could pass the ancient Japanese martial art, and so he agreed to train Frank as if he were a member of the Tanaka family. They spent over a decade training together. Since Dux is has been recruited by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), two agents, Rawlins and Helmer, are on Frank’s trail because he flew to Hong Kong without applying for leave. Hoping to prevent Dux from fighting, they agents ask Hong Kong police for help, but Captain Chen pretends that Kumite is not happening in the city, and besides, the police are busy with many other things. Frank Dux meets Janice, an American reporter trying to write a story about the secret Kumite. Frank also meets Ray Jackson, another American who has come for the Kumite, and they become fast friends. A local resident named Victor Lin guides Frank and Ray through the alleys to the hidden location of the Kumite, and explains the customs and traditions of the championship. When Frank shows Kumite officials the papers stating he represents the Tanaka family, they refuse to believe they are genuine, because Frank is not Japanese. They ... +


United States Marine Corps commando Frank Dux flies to Hong Kong, China, to take part in the Kumite, a free-style martial arts Olympics secretly held every five years by the International Fighting Arts Association. Testing the skills and spirit of the fighters, the Kumite is a brutal championship competition described as “a cockfight …with people.” Frank trained in Ninjitsu under Senzo Tanaka, a Japanese man living in California. Frank and Tanaka’s son, Shingo, were friends as teenagers, but when Shingo died in an automobile accident, Tanaka had no heir to which he could pass the ancient Japanese martial art, and so he agreed to train Frank as if he were a member of the Tanaka family. They spent over a decade training together. Since Dux is has been recruited by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), two agents, Rawlins and Helmer, are on Frank’s trail because he flew to Hong Kong without applying for leave. Hoping to prevent Dux from fighting, they agents ask Hong Kong police for help, but Captain Chen pretends that Kumite is not happening in the city, and besides, the police are busy with many other things. Frank Dux meets Janice, an American reporter trying to write a story about the secret Kumite. Frank also meets Ray Jackson, another American who has come for the Kumite, and they become fast friends. A local resident named Victor Lin guides Frank and Ray through the alleys to the hidden location of the Kumite, and explains the customs and traditions of the championship. When Frank shows Kumite officials the papers stating he represents the Tanaka family, they refuse to believe they are genuine, because Frank is not Japanese. They require that Frank perform a “death catch” to prove that Senzo Tanaka trained him. Standing before a large stack of bricks, he slaps his hand against the top brick. A moment later, the brick on the bottom of the stack crumbles and officials honor the invitation. The next day, as the three-day Kumite begins, Victor Lin explains there are three ways to win: knock your opponent out, pull your opponent off the platform, or get your opponent to quit by saying “matte,” which is like saying “uncle.” Each match involves heavy physical contact and a lot of blood, which is why the event is called a “bloodsport.” Ray and Frank defeat their first opponents easily. However, both feel intimidated as they watch the current champion, Korean Chong Li, fight. Chong Li has never been defeated, and at the last Kumite, he killed his opponent by kicking him in the throat. When Chong Li reaches the platform, he knocks his opponent out in 14.8 seconds, a new world record. However, Frank knocks out his next opponent in 12.2 seconds, setting a new world record, which enrages Chong Li. Military officers Rawlins and Helmer hear that Frank is staying at the East Lake Hotel and go there to arrest him. Frank offers to accompany them to America when the Kumite is over, but Helmer responds that the military invested too much money in him and cannot afford to let him get hurt. As the officers pull out Tasers, Ray Jackson tackles them, and Frank runs away. That evening, Frank has dinner with Janice, and sleeps with her. The next morning, she asks for his help getting into the Kumite, but Frank insists there is a strict rule barring reporters. Determined to get in, Janice dresses as a high-priced prostitute and gains access on the arms of a rich man who makes many bets. As the match begins, Chong Li defeats his opponent by breaking his leg. Frank easily knocks out his first opponent, and defeats his second by hitting him in the crotch. Next, Ray Jackson faces off against Chong Li. As Chong Li tries to kick, Ray grabs his leg and hits him in the face. Chong Li falls to the mat, and Ray thinks he has won, but as he urges the crowd to cheer for him, Chong Li gets up and kicks him repeatedly. Ray is hospitalized, but expected to recover. When Frank promises to get revenge on Chong Li. Janice is sickened by the idea of him getting back into the ring, but he explains that fighting is something he is good at. Janice goes to the police to ask them to stop the Kumite, but they refuse to get involved. The next day, Rawlins and Helmer are waiting for Frank when he arrives at the match. They again try to use Tasers, but Frank grabs a garbage can lid and deflects them. The agents finally agree to let him fight, and Janice joins them to watch the match. Frank defeats Paco, but Chong Li knocks his first opponent down and brutally punches him in the nose, killing him. Everyone at first cheers for Chong Li, but when officials declare the opponent dead, the crowd stands and turns its back to Chong Li. In the championship match, as Frank and Chong Li face off, the Korean wears Ray Jackson’s headband around his knee as a reminder that he defeated Frank’s friend. After they fight, Chong Li takes a capsule from his belt, crumples it in his hand, and throws the powder in Frank’s face, partially blinding him. Knocked to the mat, Frank closes his eyes and remembers his training with Mr. Tanaka. Using his instincts, Frank blocks Chong Li’s kicks, and delivers his own upward kicks to Chong Li stomach and face. When Chong Li falls to the mat, Frank grabs his neck and forces him to say “matte,” thereby conceding defeat. The referee declares Frank the winner. Officials award him the ceremonial Katana sword in honor of his victory. After Frank and Janice visit Ray Jackson in the hospital, Frank goes to the airport and gets on the airplane with Rawlins and Helmer, who are happy that he is on their side. +

GENRE
Genre:
Sub-genre:
Action


Subject
Subject (Major):

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.