For a brief moment in my life, Jean-Claude Van Damme could do no wrong. The year was 1988. Your faithful reviewer was a bright young lad with fire in his belly and a full head of hair. What? Did you think this dome of mine always had the power to reflect sunlight with such intensity as to blind pilots of small passenger planes, causing them to crash? But I digress, which you’ve not doubt come to expect from me at this point in our relationship.
Back in the day, the newly released Bloodsport ruled schoolyard conversations. In our teeny tiny preadolescent minds, Jean-Claude Van Damme’s breakthrough role was the Alpha and the Omega of our universe. Citizen Kane? Who’s that? Frank Dux was cooler than James Bond, faster than Bruce Lee, and this Van Damme fellow would certainly move on to a lengthy career of nothing but blockbuster after blockbuster. Ah, to be young again. And stupid.
While the original Bloodsport will always be one of my favorite childhood guilty pleasures and remains worthy of a rental even to this day, we’ve assembled here today to discuss its sequel: Bloodsport 2, released a mere eight years afterward. Is this a worthy follow-up to one of the best martial arts movies ever? Or is this sad loser going to sprain something while doing the splits? This is Yell! Magazine’s review of Bloodsport 2!
By the time 1996 rolled around, JCVD’s career was starting its free fall into the direct-to-action hero credibility left to avoid signing on the dotted line for Bloodsport 2. After all, a script for a promising team-up between himself and NBA superstar Dennis Rodman had just landed on his desk. Surefire box office gold, right there, folks. Therefore, Swiss-born model Daniel Bernhardt’s Alex Cardo stepped into the shoes left vacant by Van Damme’s Frank Dux. The producers didn’t even bother coming up with a valid reason for Frank’s absence, so I had to make one up.abyss that awaited the “Muscles From Brussels.” However, he still had enough
This seems as plausible an explanation as any.
Bernhardt, in his first movie role, and recently featured on one of our famous top 10 lists, is an interesting addition to the pantheon of direct-to-video action stars. As far as acting ability is concerned, he’s about on par with Van Damme, managing to stay afloat with a boyish grin and sheer charisma rather than skill. The man is in excellent physical condition, even shamelessly stealing a bit of JCVD’s thunder by borrowing one of his famous tricks.
The plot isn’t what you’d call original, borrowing liberally from the first movie and throwing a few other martial arts clichés on the grill for seasoning. Professional thief Alex Cardo gets thrown into an East Asian prison following a botched attempt at absconding with a valuable katana. In the pokey, Cardo discovers that his considerable martial arts skills are no match for a violent guard nicknamed Demon. (Ong Soo Han, who had a small role in King Of The Kickboxers.) As if things weren’t bad enough, Cardo is forced to wear really gaudy prison clothes!
Luckily, he’s befriended by a kindly prisoner played by the apparently immortal James Hong. (Seriously, between his role in Blade Runner 30 years ago and now, the man hasn’t aged a day. I think he might be a Highlander.) Hong’s character, spoiler alert, turns out to be a martial artist of some repute and he passes on his skills to Alex. Cue traditional training montage set to music and, once released, Cardo heads off the nearest Kumite to redeem his honor and pay his debt to Mr. Leung (played by Mr. Miyagi) by returning the stolen sword. It’s hard to really hate on Bloodsport 2. Bernhardt seems to be having a blast, Donald Gibb’s Ray Jackson even shows up to link this movie to its older brother.
Of course, nobody’s renting this movie expecting Shakespeare. We’re here for the fights. Well, fans of the martial arts tournament genre won’t come away disappointed, Bloodsport 2 features some truly entertaining bouts. A variety of fighters showing off many different disciplines square off. Here, Bernhardt falters a bit. It’s clear he knows how to fight but he’s obviously slower than the other fighters. The legendary Ron Hall, in particular, outshines the competition with lightning fast moves. Hall, a veteran of many movies, sadly never managed to break out from the crowd of B-movie action heroes.
As dictated by the Gods of martial arts movies, Cardo’s final opponent turns out to be the guard who tormented him in prison. What are the odds? Bloodsport 2 doesn’t deviate far from the plot outlined by its predecessor by having Demon needlessly kill a fellow competitor during a fight just so we know how evil he is.
I won’t recommend Bloodsport 2 if you’re looking for a strenuous workout for your gray matter. However, in a direct-to-video mire filled with an endless supply of Bloodfist clones, Bloodsport 2 stands tall. It’s well-shot, well-acted by the standards of the genre, has an above average score and serves Daniel Bernhardt well as a starring vehicle. I highly recommend spending an evening with Alex Cardo.
That came out wrong…
Your faithful reviewer,
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go cut off James Hong’s head and collect his Quickening…
- Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
- Year Released:
- 1 March 1996
- Alan Mehrez
- Daniel Bernhardt, James Hong, Pat Morita
- Action, Sport
- Official URL: