If you were a kid in the Eighties, you appreciated the finer points of the performances of Jean-Claude Van Damme. Although “The Muscles from Brussels” ain’t the figure he once was, time was when he was an icon not just in gay circles but for any young squirt with aspirations of kicking ass. And 1988â€²s Bloodsport â€” the movie where he played real-life martial artist Frank Dux â€” may just have been the high-kicking zenith of his career.
The zenith of this movie? Well there were several high points (his wooden relationship with his journalist love interest not being one of them). The final fight between Frank and badass bad guy Chong Li (played by walking pair of pectorals Bolo Yeung) is definitely up there, but it’s montages we’re interested in, and while it’s a close call between the competition and training sequences â€” the former being a feast of martial arts mayhem acted out by Street Fighter-esque caricatures â€” we’re going with the latter. It’s a grueling grind of a regime, which basically involves Dux getting his ass kicked by his mentor (we counted him hitting the deck 17 times) in between brief spells of meditation and learning about pressure points.
Add to this moments like the bit-you’re-supposed-to-notice-’cause-it’s-crucial-to-the-end-of-the-film when Frank fights blindfolded (and makes quite the maid around his master’s house) and you know it’s a classic. As for the part where he gets his limbs stretched but takes the pain and pulls the ropes out of the log, well it’s low-budget cinematic history.