Bloodfight (1989)

Posted in Reviews by - May 23, 2020
Bloodfight (1989)

English-language Japanese film made in Hong Kong which borrows its premise from Hollywood; the master-pupil dynamic and bullying elements from The Karate Kid, mixed with the gruelling training regimes and full-contact brutality of Bloodsport. Actually, let’s take that a step further: the title, the worried girlfriends, the dodgy acting, the power ballads, the urban Hong Kong setting, and even some of the choreography is all lifted from the 1988 Van Damme classic, but somewhat skewed into a new B-movie vision which seems both familiar and alien at the same time. The most obvious reference to Bloodsport is the casting of Bolo Yeung, reprising his role as the top-heavy kung fu brute Chung Li (here called “Chong Lee”). He’s a champion full-contact fighter of Vietnamese descent (apparently), and the only obstacle stopping veteran karate fighter Yasuaki Kurata from taking the title. Kurata (who also produces) believes he has found his protege in the form of young, upstanding basketball scholar Simon Yam, until Bolo crushes him to death in the ring. With help from his gweilo boxing buddy (John Ladalski), Kurata eventually steps into the ring himself to face Bolo in a foot-to-face showdown to the death. A multilingual cast struggle valiantly through the dialogue, and the film has large sections of guerrilla filmmaking on the streets of Hong Kong with puzzled onlookers in the background; all of which adds to its off-kilter charm. It also has Bolo looking fabulous in his bone-breaking prime, a committed performance from Kurata, and a very early role for Simon Yam, one of Hong Kong’s great actors. So it’s a curious film, but with enough to recommend.

AKA: Final Fight (Japanese title).

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a keyboard in London, UK.

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