1991 / Director. Albert Pyun. Movie # 11
The late 80s and early 90s were dominated by martial arts movies with Bloodsport and Kickboxer leading the pack. Albert Pyun was in on the action with films like Heatseeker, Kickboxer 2 and Cyborg... and this film, BLOODMATCH. The story is built on a great premise and the movie had so much potential. Sadly it missed it's mark ever so slightly and was delivered in a bland and uninspired way. Having said that, it's nowhere near as bad as so many of the fight flicks of the time. Pyun regular Thom Mathews plays Brick Bardo (a famous name within the Pyuniverse) the brother of a kickboxing competitor who was killed during a criminally orchestrated match fixing scheme. To avenge his brother's death he enlists the help of a femme fatale and kidnaps all of the fighters involved. They are drugged, taped to chairs and forced to fight Bardo to the death - all of them witness to each other's fight. It's a great concept and an original spin on the regular revenge fight movie, which makes it all the more disappointing that it never takes flight. Firstly for such a brutal concept, it's mostly talk. There is hardly any action at all until the 45 minute mark and once the kickboxing ramps up, it still feels timid. It's literally a dark film too with the background shrouded in a constant blackness. Small glimpses of light show us that the movie was shot in an arena, however with the shadowed backdrop, it could have been filmed anywhere - and perhaps it was. Maybe that was Albert's trickery and if so, then a backflip of kudos. BLOODMATCH was released the same year as KICKBOXER 2, which I consider to be one of the best martial arts films of the 90s. I wonder which movie actually came first and what the backstory is. Both have such drastically different direction and aesthetics. If I can get Albert to shed some light on this then I'll report back to you. BLOODMATCH is certainly not the worst of it's kind but it meanders somewhere in the middle. Just the slightest bit of zing would have lifted it.
In some territory's the film is called BLOODCHAMP.