Newt Arnold directs Jean-Claude Van Damme, Donald Gibb and Leah Ayres in this martial arts film where a soldier goes A.W.O.L. to compete in an underground competition for his master’s honour.
Not a particularly good film but camp and bloodthirsty in all the right ways. You can’t help but enjoy it. The athleticism of a young Van Damme is a thing of beauty. There is a pleasing unintentional Alan Partridge-esque quality to his journey; the tightly combed side parting, the hanging around in a mid budget hotel, his awkward attempt to ignore a sexual assault on a bus. And we also get a loooooooong flashback sequence where a gormless teenager is dubbed by an adult approximating what a teenage Muscles From Brussels might sound like. Pretty sweet stuff! The fights themselves are fast moving, muscular affairs. The soft rock soundtrack and montage edits get the blood going. There’s a base humour that is infecting. The funnest part is the backstory. All based on the lies and embellished tales of a self-aggrandising fabulist called Frank Dux. He made up the Kumite contest and his record card is proudly displayed over the final freeze frame even though it is as iffy and unverified as your bullshitting school mate whose uncle was a black belt ninja. Certainly the most beer and pizza friendly “based on a true story” feature I’ve scratched my chinny beard through.