Bloodsport writer, Sheldon Lettich, says he came up with the idea for the film while talking to a martial artist named Frank Dux. Dux claimed that in the 70s and 80s, he participated in a series of secret martial arts tournaments held for the best fighters from around the world. Frank claimed he was the first American to ever win the tournament. The problem is that, apart from Dux himself, there is no one who can confirm the existence of such a tournament.
Other stories told by Frank involves: his fight against child kidnapping pirates, secret service for the CIA, Medal of Honor, and fighting in Vietnam war (despite being too young for that).
Canon Films did not believe in the success of the film and planned direct-to-video release. However, due to contractual obligations, limited screenings had to be carried out. Bloodsport was released to theaters only in five states. Not much of a turnout was expected, but to everyone’s surprise the film quickly made it to the lists of the most popular productions. After nationwide release film collected $11 million. When the film was released globally, it collected an additional $54 million making it Cannon Group’s most profitable film of 1988.
Kowloon Walled City
A portion of the scenes were shot in Kowloon Walled City. It was a densely populated, ungoverned settlement in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Originally a Chinese military fort, over time evolved into a densely populated slum, characterized by its tall apartment buildings, narrow streets, and lack of basic services. The authorities initially tried to get rid of the wild tenants, but soon abandoned this intention. Thus, Kowloon became a no-man’s land. There was no state control, police, taxation or public utilities. Electricity was supplied illegally.
As buildings could only be located in a certain area, the city began to climb, eventually reaching a maximum height of 14 storeys (more was not allowed due to the nearby airport). This made it the most populated place on Earth. Due to criminal activity, the police only ventured there in larger groups and only in exceptional circumstances. For this reason, it was almost impossible to get there with a film crew, but the makers of Bloodsport succeeded. In 1993, the Hong Kong government demolished the Kowloon Walled City to make way for a park.
JCVD inspired Mortal Kombat
In the early 90s, company called Midway decided to pursue an fighting game starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. The creators, Ed Boon and John Tobias used a silhouette of Van Damme cut from Bloodsport to create a prototype. The game was planned as a tie-in for the film. Unfortunately, negotiations stalled as Van Damme was already involved in the production of another game (which never came out). Tobias and Boon willy-nilly had to abandon the film adaptation. Instead, they set the story of their game in a fantasy world. But they did not forget about Van Damme. The game features Johnny Cage, a self-confident, arrogant Hollywood actor whose signature move is split with crotch punch (a direct reference to the scene in Bloodsport). They also dressed him in the characteristic shorts.
Due to budgetary constraints, fighters were played by people without acting skills (real fighters, stuntmen and dancers). Some of them did not speak English, and therefore most of the fighters have no lines of dialogue.
Michel Qissi, who plays one of the fighters, is a friend of Van Damme’s. Together they flew to the US in search of fame. He is best known for his role as Tong Po in the film “Kickboxer,” in which he starred opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme.
The film has spawned three sequels. Daniel Bernhardt plays the lead role in all of them. Bloodsport 2: The Next Kumite, tells the story of a Alex Cardo, who ends up in a prison in Bangkok, where he learns from a fellow inmate a martial art called ‘iron fist’ and with its help wins a Kumite tournament. The only actor from the original to return to his role is Donald Gibb as Jackson.
Bloodsport 3 is a direct sequel. After his mentor is murdered, Alex Cardo uses his martial arts skills and takes on the one responsible.
Bloodsport 4: The Dark Kumite also features Daniel Bernhardt in the lead role, but this time his character is agent John Keller, who goes undercover to infiltrate a dangerous prison that hosts Kumite.
The role has earned Van Damme a Golden Raspberry nomination – for “Worst New Star”. He ‘lost’ to Ronald McDonald from Mac and Me. JCVD won his only Razzie in 1998 for “Worst Screen Couple” with Dennis Rodman in the “Double Team”
Donald Trump’s fovourite movie
Bloodsport is one of Donald Trump’s favourite films (favorite one is Citizen Kane). However, the former US president admits that he only watches the fight scenes, and fast-forwarding the rest.
The game that Dux and Jackson are playing on the arcade machine is called Karate Champ.