Sunday, 5 February 2017
Jean-Claude Van Damme in the 1980s - Bloodsport
Frank Dux is a very interesting person. As well as being a super important ex-CIA agent and a noted ninja historian, Black Belt magazine favourite Mr Dux spent the late seventies fighting in hundreds of underground, full-contact martial arts matches before retiring completely undefeated. Contrary to what the Los Angeles Times would have you believe, these entirely credible events definitely happened. Dux's stories so impressed Cannon Group moguls Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan that they stumped up the cash to turn his life story into a film.
Macho fantasist Dux found his perfect big screen avatar in Jean-Claude Van Damme, both men defined by their desire to be regarded as some sort of exciting object. Dux used tall tales to attract gullible marks to his ninjustsu McDojos. Van Damme, thanks to disastrous test screenings that deemed an early assembly unwatchable, was given carte blanche to edit the rhythms and shape of Bloodsport around centrefold spreads of his muscled physique.
Schwarzenegger's frame was oversized and lightly comical, his brawn presented as the machinery required to become a human gun platform. Stallone was smaller but steely, his body a work-in-progress that seemed to be unconsciously stressing the flayed elegance of rejected messiahs. Compared to his peers, Van Damme's mission is simple. He wants to be appraised and desired, explicitly linking glimpses of his engorged figure with the the act of sex. Van Damme fucks women and he wants you to know it. Viewed in this context, Bloodsport's fights are more about the graceful slow-motion arc of a perfectly chiselled leg than any sense of genuine conflict.