Monday, February 27, 2023

So Bad It's Good

VHS Revival has a great review & hilarious behind-the-scenes dissection of one of my favorite schlockily terribad '80s Golan-Globus action flicks, Bloodsport, which was Jean-Claude Van Damme's movie debut.
Bloodsport‘s plot is so simple it makes the most primitive 16-bit game seem complex by comparison, but that’s the beauty of it. Van Damme’s training ― though again said to be of real-life origin ― has fighting game bonus round written all over it. Dux is subjected to a series of trials designed to sharpen his instincts and test his mettle, like catching fish with his bare hands, fighting blindfolded, DRINKING TEA blindfolded, and, in what seems like something of a (ahem!) stretch, is even tied to a makeshift torture rack, the very same that were designed to dislocate joints and tear out limbs. Van Damme, who is subjected to such nonsense for real, certainly earned his meagre $25,000 fee.
The review is worth reading in its entirety.

So yeah, Van Damme's first movie role, which he landed by impressing a movie producer with his roundhouse kicking talent while waiting tables in a posh restaurant, paid him twenty-five grand. That's something like sixty long in 2023 dollars, which seems like a bargain to me, but I've never hired anybody to star in a kung fu movie so I can't be sure.

The movie is based on the BS war stories and drunken fabulations of noted Bullshido master Frank Dux, whose claims include winning a Medal of Honor while participating in super secret missions as a USMC reservist in the early Eighties, in between occasionally competing in apocryphal underground death matches like the one in the movie, or the ones in which Pam from Archer fought to pay for college.

I gotta say, you kids who weren't around in the days before the internet really missed out on the golden age of bullshit. Teenage insecurity tends to lead to wild tales of girlfriends in Canada or your friend's brother's uncle's 200mph Trans Am, but nowadays everybody's got Google in their pockets and can fact check your ass, and so people tend to get mocked right out of the habit of telling easily disprovable whoppers by the time they graduate high school. 

Not back then, though! The world was full of Frank Duxes! Any Army-Navy store of any size had a handful of regulars who spun tall tales at the cyclic rate with a glorious disregard for plausibility. While only a few hundred SEALs served in Vietnam, every neighborhood gun store had at least three or four of them.

I guess that's part of the nostalgia of Bloodsport for me. Anyway, if you haven't watched can stream it with Amazon's a hoot.