If you don't know me personally, my favorite films are (in order) -- Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru (1952), Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and Newt Arnold's Bloodsport (1988).
There are a lot of characters to love in Bloodsport. Bolo Yeung's turn as Chong Li, the Chinese powerhouse who wears a headband and pumps his fists like a psychopath after he karate-murders people, is particularly memorable. This was '80s icon Jean Claude Van-Damme's first major starring role, and if you can get past half of what he does, everything he says and that scene where he stands still until it's time to pull up his underwear, he's great.
I'm a big fan of supporting players in films like these, so for this week's Arbitrary Friday List I've decided to rank the 15 worst fighters in the Bloodsport Kumite. I think the movie was set in 1975, but we're pretending this happened in real time in 1988.
I hope you enjoy my analysis. OKAY USA!
15. Ray Jackson
Ray Jackson (real name Fred "The Ogre" Palowakski) is a big, strong, American brawler who gets injured and gives protagonist Frank Dux the will to Fight To Survive or whatever and win the Kumite, so you'd think he wouldn't be on the list ... but Ray is easily the stupidest guy to step foot in 1980s China. Ray can't hit anybody without having to turn around, point at his friends and yell asinine shit like YEAH AWRIGHT or YEAHHH FRANKIEEE. He even calls out tournament champion Chong Li, who does the most amazing "is THIS motherfucker talking to ME" facial response ever. When Jackson ends up facing Li in the sweet sixteen (or whatever) you'd think he'd keep his cool, but nope ... he lands one good shot on Chong Li and starts running around on the platform in his sad capri sweatpants with his arms in the air. He gets swagger jacked by Li, who stomps him in the back of the head, puts him in the hospital and inadvertently turns Frank Dux into Batman.
The next time I'm near a Harley Davidson store, I'm stopping in to buy a bandana. I want to wear it around my leg and boast to random Belgians about how I curb stomped their friends.
14. Toon Wing Sum
Toon Wing Sum is the second person in the Kumite losing to Paco, aka "The Muy Thai Guy", outside of a montage. When I was a kid I called him the "knee guy". Anyway, Sum makes it pretty far into the tournament, but when he faces Paco he just kinda backs up, holds out his arms and says "okay, do some Muy Thai things to me". Paco just waltzes up to him, grabs him by the head and starts kneeing him in the general area of his torso. Sum ends up covered in blood, because in Bloodsport every attack makes your face explode.
Ah well, you know what they say. Toon Wing Sum, you lose some.
13. Suan Paredes
I had to pause it at like three different parts to make sure his name wasn't "Susan".
Susan's another guy who makes it deep into the Kumite and is the guy who gives the film its name (see #12 - Sen Ling), but makes the list for his abysmal performance against Chong Li. If you've seen the movie, you'll best remember him as the guy who gets his leg broken so badly it pops out through the skin. I remember him best as the guy who severely grossed me the fuck out while I was trying to watch Bloodsport and eat Spaghetti-Os when I was eight.
12. Sen Ling
The first fight in the Kumite is Suan Parades versus Sen Ling, and Ling gets bloodied so badly Ray Jackson has to wink wink nudge nudge Frank and drop the name of the film. "That's why it's called Bloodsport, kid!" This poor guy assumedly spent his entire life training to be in the Kumite, got in good enough with the Chinese martial arts underground scene to get the opening match and is dispatched immediately. They should've cut to Eric Roberts in the crowd, nudging a Korean guy in an eyepatch and quipping, "I guess that means Sen Ling isn't the BEST OF THE BEST".
11. Budinam Prang
Budinam has the unfortunate role of being the round one opponent of tournament champion and "guy who killed a guy last time" Chong Li. The poor guy tries his best, but he gets put into a sleeper, elaborately facepalmed and K.O.'d in a record-setting 14.8 seconds. If that wasn't bad enough, his World Record Failure gets beaten a few minutes later by Sadiq Hoseen (see No. 5). He should've done better. His entire family was Prang for him!
10. Steve Daw
Steve Daw is the first person to lose to Paco The Knees Guy, and he's on this list almost exclusively because his name is "Steve Daw". They should've just called him "Brad Failure".
9. Blue And Yellow Guy
Some of these guys don't have names. I mean, they probably do, but I'm going by the Family Feud-style announcement board they use at the Kumite, not the Internet Movie Database. Blue And Yellow Guy is the first person eliminated during the "Fight To Survive" montage, and all he really does is try to stomp his opponent's feet and get the air a foot in front of his face kicked, causing him to turn dramatically and spit out a mouthful of prop blood. His opponent here really should've been the favorite to win ... if you can crush a guy's heart and make him vomit blood by just kicking near his face, imagine what you could do if you made contact?
According to the lyrics, Blue And Yellow Guy was "given strength by the breath of life", which looks a hell of a lot like acid reflux.
This unidentified gent starts off well, using karate (source: 8-year old Brandon) to beat up Ray Jackson. Unfortunately Ray mounts a comeback, downing him in one move: grabbing his hair and punching him in the face. This motherfucker traveled to CHINA to be in a clandestine martial arts tournament and wasn't skilled enough to avoid being grabbed by the hair and punched by a fat motorcycle enthusiast. Ray calls him an asshole, and that's the last we see of him. Two theories:
1. He got buried under the pile of betting slips thrown onto him and died.
2. That shifty janitor who steals gold teeth scooped him up when nobody was looking.
They made Frank Dux break bricks to get into the Kumite. How'd this asshole get in?
7. Alan Tudyk
Firefly's Alan Tudyk enters the Kumite, tries to finish the sentence "I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar" and has his back broken by a sumo wrestler. Sorry, nerds.
6. Chong Li Boxing Guy
My sentimental favorite in the tournament is this guy, who I couldn't find a name for. One of the selling points of Bloodsport is that it shows different styles of martial arts, and this poor guy's style was "punching". He makes it into the second round and he's up against Chong Li, who broke the world record for fastest knockout in his previous fight. You're a boxing guy, so you assume Chong Li knows you're a boxing guy and will be looking out for boxing. What do you do? If you're this guy, you stand in front of Chong Li and TRY TO PUNCH HIM.
Of course, Chong Li catches the punch, twists his arm and palm strikes him in the armpit. Boxing guy collapses in a heap and his mouthpiece flies out. I don't know, he got away pretty easily. The guy before him got his face broken and the guy after him gets his leg snapped in half. There's got to be a deeper story here.
5. Sadiq Hossein
Sadiq and his posse of condescending Middle Easterners in sweaters are the unheralded stars of the film, showing up early in a scene where Frank Dux keeps them from harassing Undercover Blonde Reporter. They fall for Frank's "hold out your hand and if I can grab the coin in your palm before you close it, you can rape this lady" trick, and as fate would have it, Hossein and Dux square off in the Kumite. Hossein's reaction is one of the great lines of dialogue in film history:
"Now I show you some trick or two!"
His trick is "getting the shit beaten out of him so fast it sets a new World Record". I want to see a bunch of deleted scenes for this film, including one where Hossein's all distraught about his performance and his pal is all, "it's okay man, it was the American shithead who made tricks with bricks. Next time you'll get Steve Daw, probably!"
4. This Black Guy Who Is Apparently A Yellow Belt
I don't know how he got into the Kumite (again, did THIS guy break bricks?), but my theory is that Kumite officials suddenly realized the only black guy they'd brought in was rolling around on the ground like a monkey so they tossed in a few more. This guy has no fucking idea what he's doing and basically lets Chong Li lay him on the ground, turn him over, fold up his legs and palm strike him in the back of the head. He's not as memorable as the top 3, but for sheer futility, look no further than This Black Guy Who Is Apparently A Yellow Belt.
D.J. Tanner was a green belt, why not let her face Chong Li?
3. Tsu Hin _____
Tsu Hin's only appearance in the film is during the "Fight To Survive" montage, and all we see is Ray Jackson running him toward the edge of the fight platform and tossing him off a la Jazz on 'The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air'. The only way I know his name is Tsu Hin something is because I paused it at the right time. There is no way you got into the Kumite on your own, Tsu Hin. You're that official with the beard's nephew, aren't you?
2. The Guy Who Got The Shit Beaten Out Of Him By The Monkey Guy
Okay, so this motherfucker.
He gets into a match against the monkey guy, and the monkey guy's ENTIRE OFFENSE is rolling around on the ground making monkey gestures. Throughout the fight this guy tries to combat monkey style by punching and kicking at his own fucking eye level, whiffing the monkey guy by at least two-to-three feet every time, and eventually he gets knocked down, mounted, and chopped in the back of the head. Hey, you know what might've helped you in this fight? PUNCHING DOWN.
1. Joao Gomez
And finally, Joao Gomez, the best/worst fighter in the 1988 (or whenever) Kumite.
Gomez gets into a late round match-up with Frank Dux, and before the referee can go AYEEE and start things, Gomez interrupts with a taunt; he sloooowly sticks out a trembling finger, then drags his thumb across his throat. Dux kicks him once, then does a forward roll and jump kicks him off the stage. The guy's taunting lasts about 15 seconds longer than the fight, and HOLY SHIT does this guy validate my theory about the additional black guys being thrown in. Yo Kumite, you'd probably have less deaths and snapped-in-half legs if you screened these guys before letting them fight in a full contact death tournament. I bet he showed up and they asked him his name, and he just bugged his eyes out and pointed at them until they let him in.
So there we have it -- the 15 worst people in the 1975/1988 Kumite. If you've got any favorite moments or memories from Bloodsport (or attended the event live, if you are Frank Dux and literally nobody else in the entire world), be sure to "like" this post and drop us a comment below.
Join us again next week, when I chase Jon Bois through the streets of China with a stun gun.
For more rankings of things you half-remember, check out our Arbitrary Friday List section.