Thirty years ago, Jean-Claude Van Damme got his big break with the release of Bloodsport, the martial arts classic from Cannon Films, the fine purveyors of gloriously cheesy schlock. The company and the actor might hit their collective peak with the movie, introducing the world to the Muscles from Brussels. There are some fun facts about this movie.
1. It is based on a true story… maybe!
Bloodsport is inspired allegedly by the real-life exploits of martial artist Frank Dux, whose story was originally told in a Black Belt Magazine article, which claimed that Dux – who also supposedly took part in covert missions in Southeast Asia for the CIA in the 1980s – infiltrated a secretive, no-holds-barred martial arts tournament known as the “Kumite” to take down the criminal organization that oversaw the fight.
Dux became the first American champion of the tournament, which took place in cities around the world every five years and gathered the world’s top fighters in a variety of styles to determine who reigned supreme. Or not.
While the real-life Dux claims the Kumite and his record are fact, some say his backstory about the Kumite and the CIA is completely fabricated. On May 1, 1988, more than two months after the movie hit theaters, the Los Angeles Times published an exposé that called into question the majority of Dux’s claims.
2. The writer knew it’s based on a lie, but he wanted to make a movie anyway.
Screenwriter of the movie Sheldon Lettich first met the real-life Dux as his agent needed help cutting down his unpublished Vietnam War novel, The Last Rainbow. Lettich later told AsianMoviePulse.com, “Frank Dux told me a lot of tales, most of which turned out to be bullshit,” and “his stories about participating in this ‘Kumite’ event sounded like a great idea for a movie.”
His screenwriting credits on the Sylvester Stallone Rambo III arranged him a meeting with Mark DiSalle, the producer who pitched Lettich the idea for a movie named Kickboxer. Lettich countered with a movie pitching the supposed life story of Dux, causing DiSalle to move forward with that film first.