When it comes to BLOODSPORT 2 the most important thing to know is that the movie opens with the legendary James Hong. That – right there – is reason enough to persevere despite hesitation. How can anyone resist the one-screen presence of Hong when he's delivering corny likes like “There was a time when even good was bad” and “The worst prisons are the ones we build ourselves”. Needless to say it's classic cheese! Oh and I suspect that his character of Master Sun is actually Snotty from REVENGE OF THE NERDS 2, or perhaps he kept his wardrobe relevant!?
Another reason to watch BLOODSPORT 2 is the inclusion of Mr Miyagi (sorry, Pat Morita) and Donald Gibb (Ogre from REVENGE OF THE NERDS... oh wow, another NERDS crossover). Gibbs reprises his role from the first film and pretty much does the same thing... ie grunt, grunt, grunt.
So the story takes place at an undetermined time after the events of the first film. Those events aren't referenced (or at least I've never payed enough attention) but the notorious “Kumite” tournament and Donald Gibb's attendance prove that we're in the same cinematic universe (does Gibb sleep there or something?). The film opens up with Master Sun teaching a class of American children, and for some fucked-up reason he's telling them a completely inappropriate story about his past student, Alex Cardo, and the illegal underground Kumite tournament.
Alex Cardo is played by Daniel Bernhardt and his casting is, no doubt, the result of a “Van Damme lookalike” casting call. His looks are similar and his on-screen presence is definitely cut from the same cloth... all the way down to the full splits. He plays a prisoner inside, what has to be, one of Thailand's most luxurious institutions. He befriends an old man (Hong) who becomes his mentor and trains him for the Kumite... as if they knew he would get out of jail in time to compete (hmm). And low-and-behold a wealthy benefactor (Morita) steps in and secures a release for Alex so that he can fight.
And with that very convenient set-up we are thrust into the tournament, which isn't quite as grungy as one might recall. This time around the Kumite's arena is much smaller and a lot more sanitised. The grim and gritty atmosphere of the first instalment has been replaced with a sterilised PG-friendly environment. The contestants lack the gruff of their predecessors lack the same level of menace and braun. The fight choreography is often clever, however the execution is stilted and unconvincing. Moments of invasive hand-held cinematography are also distracting and intrusive.
BLOODSPORT 2 is the dumbed-down re-hash that had to be. No one wanted it, but what is most astounding is that it performed well enough on the home-video market to warrant two more sequels. Berhardt had a good enough command of the screen to define his own talent, and the shame is that he was never able to use it to his advantage later on. Outside of this franchise he struggled to forge a platform for himself, and only managed muster a few bit roles in films like THE MATRIX RELOADED and JOHN WICK. I like him and I hope we get to see more of him....
Watch his BLOODSPORT entries with a gleeful caution.