This week, I discovered the odd Lady Bloodfight in the Netflix Basement. It’s a female remake/rip-off of Bloodsport starring only super attractive women beating the living crap out of each other. I’m guessing the title in Asia is “Bra-less Mega-Babes Kick-Punch, Sometimes in Slow-Mo.” The oddity isn’t that the movie exists. This is probably the 300th variation of the Enter The Dragon fighting tournament plot, and several feature all female combatants. What’s odd is that this movie is pretty decent. All of the fighters are played by stunt women or martial arts experts and the fight scenes are pretty brutal, especially compared to the prissy slap-fighting in Legendary from semi-famous action stars Dolph Lundgren and Scott Adkins, which I watched recently. Let’s check it out to see who is the champion Lady Bloodfighter.
Lady Bloodfight (2016)
Okay, maybe saying the movie is “pretty decent” is a little too strong. Shall we say the movie is entertaining in an exploitative way, but the fighting is really good and I like all of the performers? We get a good idea early on of what motivated the filmmakers to make this movie. There’s a totally ripped Russian Mafia fighter who is the henchwoman, sort of like Mortal Kombat‘s Goro. Ten minutes in and we’ve seen her naked back tattoos in four separate shots, her chiseled underwear-clad butt twice, and we’ve seen her face exactly once. Hmm.
I noticed this was written and produced by Bey Logan, who is an expert on Hong Kong Martial Arts films. I have one of his books. His writing skill apparently hasn’t translated into screenwriting, unfortunately, as the script is more brutal than the face-punches. The filmmakers can shoot bodacious ladies kung-fu fighting the snot out of each other really well, but the dialogue and plot are atrocious. You’d think Logan would’ve learned to tell a good story by watching all of those movies he writes about.
For example: in a sterling bit of screenwriting, one fighter asks the Brazilian lady what’s her martial art. “Capoeira,” she responds. “Never heard of it,” the other replies. Come on, the lady’s from Brazil. Flip a coin. It’s either capoeira or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. And how can you be a trained martial artist and not have heard of capoeira? Haven’t you played Tekken or seen Only the Strong? Also, the movie never has her do any nifty moves before she’s quickly and painfully dispatched.
The plot follows Bloodsport fairly closely. Too closely, really, because nobody says “I love Bloodsport for the clever plotting and deft character work.” We have a blonde American, this time a female, looking for her missing father who went away to fight in a Kumite. There is some nonsense about the two female masters of the Lady Kumite having a rivalry going back decades, but it’s pointless contrivance and serves no purpose. All of the best lady fighters are recruited over years to take part in a Lady Bloodfight tournament and all of them get an introductory fight scene to show they are bad-asses. The characters have barely any back stories, but it doesn’t matter as they are just chum for Russian Goro lady to brutalize, and for our plucky heroine played by Amy Johnston to underdog her way to victory. Johnston has an impressive stunt filmography including work on Deadpool and Suicide Squad. She’s a surprisingly good actress as well, doing what she can with what little she’s given to work with. She should be a star if she’s given a chance, like Gina Carano or Zoe Bell.
We’re introduced to Johnston during an attempted rape where she brutalizes five dudes. Like I said, the movie is exploitative but entertaining. On the way to Johnston getting to the Kumite, there’s training montages galore and many pointless street fights where every dude in China seems to have hostile intent towards her, and is in desperate need of an ass-whupping. And when we finally get to the tournament, there’s a painfully long exposition scene with all the ladies standing around listening to the why’s and wherefore’s of the Kumite. It would be quicker just to show them a video of Bloodsport than all this incessant yammering about the rules. There are no rules. We know. Please get on with this.
Then the fighting begins and I quickly remember the problem with ultra-violent Mortal Kombat style fighting movies. It’s tolerable in a video game to have brutal violence since the player will start the next fight with spines intact and head un-exploded, but it’s unpleasant to watch characters we kind of like get the crap kicked out of them for barely any reason. Yes I know, the other girls are doing it for the money, but Johnston should find an easier way to get information on her missing father.
Also, the economics of hell-hole pit fighting don’t make any sense in these movies. Why do these four or five millionaires bet stacks of money on clandestine bouts? Wouldn’t it make more sense to televise this thing and bet huge amounts of money on it? They’ve recruited the best fighters in the world. Have them strap on gloves and go at it for a million dollar purse. I’d watch it. Also, why would you give these fighters weapons, so they can murderize each other? I know they signed a release form, but there’s no way that stands up in court. Wouldn’t it make more sense to not have the ladies kill each other so you can sell the championship rematches on Pay-Per-View?
Like I said, these plots never make sense, and it’s mostly Bloodsport‘s fault. Frank Dux “won” a super fighting tournament that nobody saw, that there’s no evidence of even existing, and that he only got paid in pain and suffering. “You won the Super-Duper Fighting Championship of the World, only there’s no evidence of it? Sure you did, Killer.”
Anyways, as all of these tired movie plots unfold, Johnston is befriended by a likable nice girl. So you know she’s toast in order to give our hero more motivation.
These movies suck from a philosophical standpoint. They show how cruel and cynical the millionaires are who bet on these tournaments. And how inhumane it all is. But isn’t the audience supposed to get visceral thrills from the awesome fighting? Are we bad people for watching a movie that has such a callous disregard for life? I mean, I paid nothing to watch this movie, but the filmmakers spent over a million bucks making it. So who’s more morally bankrupt? And what are we supposed to feel about Johnston, who gets physically ill at seeing one of the ladies get murdered with a spear, but she’s guilted into fighting by the villains telling her that her dad quit the Kumite, and does Johnston want to be known as a quitter?
But Johnston is culpable. Let’s get this straight, she agreed to take part in a totally illegal blood fight in some random warehouse in Ass-Crack, China. I’m guessing the cash prize is not exactly Bill Gates-ian. I mean, it could be. But the fight organizers don’t bother hiring medics at ringside. And only her new friend’s brutal murder in the ring, because of course she does, gives her some doubts about the viability of the tournament?
So Johnston gets mad and punch-kicks her way to the finals. Then she “heroically” punches the villainess in the face. “That was for Cassidy,” she declares. Because a punch to the face is equally painful to being cut to pieces with a sword. I’m sure Lady Goro will never get over being punched in the face, whereas Cassidy…
BOTTOM LINE: If you are looking for impressive fighting and bodacious ladies punching each other, then this is a movie for you. But for me, it feels a little tawdry and sad. Is this the best Bey Logan can come up with after reviewing decades of Action Movies? I hope Amy Johnston and the other impressive ladies can star in a much better movie to show what they can do. I’m not sure why they couldn’t be an elite military team thrown together to rescue their friend or something a little less unsavory. But then you couldn’t call it Lady Bloodfight, could you? Aw, sure you could.