An all-female remake of Bloodsport, you say? Directed by Chris Nahon ( Kiss of The Dragon)?
I was intrigued. And I ended up liking it a lot.
Amy Johnston, plays Jane and when we first meet her, she works as a waitress and unfortunatley is constantly hassled for being a woman who happens to be easy on the eyes. She gets fired from the job because she doesn´t take shit from perverts. Also, her father disappeared when he entered the deadly martial arts tournament Kumite eighteen years ago And now that she got time on her hands. Instead of pleasing customers, she might as well please herself for once ( that came out wrong). By finding out what happened to him going to Hong Kong and participate in this exclusive and shady tournament.
At the same time a rivalry between two female kung fu masters ( Shu and Wei) are tasked with taking up prodigees to fight for them to determine which one of them is the best. The fights between them in the last Kumite ended up a draw so it´s decided to let them fight through proxies be the way to determine who is the best of the best.
So, there is the Bloodsport formula sprinkled with the kung fu classic The Odd Couple starring Sammo Hung. It is a pretty good use of formulas, I would say. The rivalry between Shu and Wei and the reason behind it is explored thorughout the film. It gives the story a bit more layers and it feels like an attempt of making a B-movie with an actual story that is not entirely uninteresting
Jane finds a mentor in Shu, who agrees to train her. Meanwhile, evil bitch Wei finds another diamond in the rough so the film parallels their development. Shu and Wei will fight using proxies. Kind of like the kung fu masters of The Odd Couple.
It is indeed a Bloodsport movie as several key elements from that film finds itself into this film. We get to see the fights between all the contestants in a montage.
Though the montages lack a distinct 80´s rocking soundtrack! There is also a female version of Bolo Yeungs classic villain Chong Li and a moment in which the Chong Li character kills a friend of Jane.
There are small moments of light humour injected in thefilm that help strengthen the bond between Jane and Shu and details like that elevates it from your standard productionline action film. It is clearly made by fans of the genre. And it is. Lady Bloodfight is written and prduced by Hong Kong actionfilm expert Bey Logan which gives the film more credit I think.
Usually female on-screen fighting is mostly presented in a way so that the girls doing the fighting stays pretty looking ( Charlies Angels) but here Amy Johnston gets messed up a lot and put through the ringer throughout the film.
It is pretty uncomfortable to watch. But I think it is great to see women being allowed to be presented as ferocious warriors and not just pretty doll faces to look at .
There might also even be some elements of Undisputed in there with the puppetmaster arranger who profits from the tournament through fixed fights. So there are a lot of familiar tropes that has been constructed into a really enjoyable martial arts vehicle for Amy Johnsson. Johnston who has made herself a career doing stunts for big ass superhero movies. Now she gets to act, and does it decently compared to other female martial arts movie-fighters such as Ronda Rousey and Gina Carano. She projects a particular vulnerability , more reminiscient of Uma Thurmans Beatrix Kiddo, than the other two and as a result is more relatable.
The fights were apparently choreographed by Xin Xin Xiong, a veteran of Hong Kong martial arts cinema. He played Clubfoot in Once upon a Time in China 3 and even though IMDB fails to mention it, I am fairly confident he choreographed the fights in The Musketeer from 2001
Lady Bloodfight might not revolutionize anything, but it is a solid entertaining martial arts tournament movie. And we need those. Or at least I sure do.