Running Time: 91 minutes.
Tag-line: "Beyond honor there is a fight for justice and the truth..."
Notable Cast or Crew: Daniel Bernhardt (BLOODSPORT 2, JOHN WICK), John Rhys-Davies (RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, KING SOLOMON'S MINES), Amber Van Lent (LYING EYES, BAYWATCH), Uni Park (TEK WAR, DIRTY WORK), Master Hee Il Cho (BLOODSPORT 2, BEST OF THE BEST), James Hong (BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, NINJA III: THE DOMINATION), Pat Morita (THE KARATE KID, BAYWATCH). Produced and directed by Alan Mehrez (BLOODSPORT 2, CYBORG 3: THE RECYCLER).
Best One-liner: "You're ten years old now, Jason––I think it's time you learned the real meaning about martial arts... and about me. Have you ever heard about a championship called a Kumite?"
Two down-on-their-luck cineastes in a familiar, darkened alleyway:
"All good things must come to an end. Even good things that come in 3's."
–"Oh, thank God. Haven't you inflicted enough suffering? First, it was undead bird attacks in ZOMBI 3, then Ambrose Bierce fan-fic in FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 3, then poor man's Paul Walker in TOKYO DRIFT, waterski carnage in JAWS 3-D, V8 foreplay in NINJA III, and werewolf nuns in HOWLING III. And, that's not even counting the time you made me watch Stallone play a hippie in SPY KIDS 3-D, or when you forced me to read the entire novelization of HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH!"
"I won't have you speaking ill of HALLOWEEN III on my watch. But, regardless, I have brought you a gift. Don't you think it's a lovely day for a... Kumite?"
–"Oh, no. Not the third BLOODSPORT. It has a reputation."
"Trust me, a wise man once said, 'nothing with a Kumite in it can be all bad.' You can print that in the paper."
–"I must be going."
"Aw, come on, remember how much you loved BLOODSPORT 2: THE NEXT KUMITE?"
–"I guess it was pretty good."
"You're goddamned right it was good. And BLOODSPORT III naturally brings back part 2's Jean-Faux Van Damme: Swiss martial artist Daniel Bernhardt, whom actual Van Damme cherry-picked as his replacement after they met on a photo shoot for Versace jeans."
–"It's not Versace, it's Ver-sayce."
"Oh, hush. So the film begins with a montage of scenes from BLOODSPORT 2's Kumite, probably to pad the run-time. Then, Daniel Bernhardt (as Kumite champion Alex Cardo) wakes up from the flashback––which was actually a sweaty Kumite nightmare."
–"'Kumite Nightmare' would be a good name for a band."
"We then sweep into a frame story. Remember, how BLOODSPORT 2 had that wraparound with James Hong telling the tale of Alex Cardo to his kiddie dojo? Well, this continues that tradition, only now it's even more PRINCESS BRIDE, with Bernhardt telling the story of the movie to his ten-year old son. According to the IMDb trivia section, the age of Bernhardt's son would place this frame story in 2007."
–"I don't care."
"Hey, remember when JCVD dressed up as a street clown to save a bunch of Dickensian urchins in THE QUEST? Like his illustrious forbear, Jean-Faux Van Bernhardt really cares about the kids, delivering pathos-filled expressions of concern. (Did I mention that I'm starting to like Jean-Faux Van Bernhardt almost as much as the real JCVD?) And so begins one of the greatest father-son conversations of all time:
"You're ten years old now, Jason––I think it's time you learned the real meaning about martial arts... and about me. Have you ever heard about a championship called a Kumite?"
It's one of those universal rites of fatherhood; you know, you gotta to tell your kid about the birds n' the bees, about the concept of death, about that time you won two Kumites... Honestly, though, he should probably be a little more concerned about that George Jetson blow-up doll in the background."
"So we travel back eleven years to Bernhardt looking spiffy in a white tux, like James Bond.
He fights some generic ninja dudes in a casino, and it's like they're lifted from a typical Cannon actioner, or the film-within-a-film at the end of PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE. Dudes in the background randomly shout things like 'That guy's LETHAL!' and there's a MacGuffin of some kind that's not actually important and here the movie spins its wheels for a bit. Jean-Faux Van Bernhardt becomes involved with a shady businessman played by John Rhys-Davies..."
–"Aw, man. Poor guy."
"Hey, dude's gotta eat. Jean-Faux Van Bernhardt starts dating Rhys-Davies' daughter (Amber Van Lent), who curdles our collective blood during an excruciatingly atonal song 'sesh where she tries to do her best Julee Cruise-in-TWIN PEAKS impersonation,
Note blue dress and red velvet curtain.
but why they thought letting her sing on camera was a good idea is anybody's guess. It's genuinely and splendidly terrible."
–"You're not really doing a good job of selling me on this movie, are you?"
"Oh, just you wait. There's a nice bit when Bernhardt and Rhys-Davies admire a truly terrible painting
and Rhys-Davies says, 'Have you ever seen a painting this exquisite?'
I can't even tell what it's a painting of––a jar of eyeballs? Baby heads? Pickled lemons? Peaches?"
"Then Rhys-Davies starts tossing around all this talk about a new Kumite, and therefore lines like "I am sponsoring a new Kumite" and "I see you're going into business with my father––something to do with a... Kumite?" are spoken. I approve of this. For reasons that aren't properly telegraphed, they bring back Bernhardt's old master James Hong
Good to see you, Mr. Hong. I last glimpsed your stern visage in NINJA III: THE DOMINATION.
just to kill him off five minutes later with an exploding telephone planted by evil John Rhys-Davies. Never mind that this negates the frame story of BLOODSPORT 2 where an elderly Hong reminisced about his life. Thirsting for revenge, Bernhardt looks up Pat Morita (also briefly reprising his BLOODSPORT 2 role)
Morita: 'Thank God I'm only on set for two hours.'
who sends him to train with a new Kumite master, Master Hee Il Cho. And so Jean-Faux Van Bernhardt embarks on an epic training montage that seems culled almost exactly from another JCVD film: KICKBOXER.
Workin' on the ol' leg extension...
...for the big payoff: the splits!
Naturally this is replete with HELLRAISER-style torture and balanced with TOP GUN-ish homoerotica:
And finally, like Christopher Cross, he learns how to 'charm that snake.' Unlike JCVD, who simply punches them, Bernhardt waves his hands around and mesmerizes the little fellow.
–"Wow. 'Indiana Jones' much?"
"Definitely. In fact, this whole movie feels a little 'Indiana Jones' to me, between John Rhys-Davies, the Sri Lankan locales (as in TEMPLE OF DOOM), the elephant rides, the white tuxedos, the snake stuff, et cetera."
–"Would you say, 'INDIANA BERNHARDT AND THE TEMPLE OF KOOM... ITAY?'"
"No. I would not say that. So finally we get to the main event. Rhys-Davies has bet his entire fortune on the big bad fighter named 'Beast,' who kinda looks like a poor man's Mayor Mike Haggar (from FINAL FIGHT).
Mayor Mike Haggar...
Rhys-Davies has also done his damnedest to keep Bernhardt out of the Kumite, an endeavor at which, naturally, he does not succeed."
–"Lay down some Kumite highlights for me."
"Most of the fighters have splendid names, like 'Camacho Supe,' 'Bruce Burly,' 'Chai' (like the tea, I guess), 'JJ Tucker,' and 'Sparx.' I could go on. I will go on.
That fight there involves 'Stellio,' which is pronounced like 'Steel-Leo.'
This one features freakin' 'MAX OMEGA.' Whoever was naming these background fighters deserves a raise."
–"Those are pretty good. You're beginning to pique my interest."
"Yeah. And speaking of Max Omega, he's played by kickboxer Chad Stahelski, who is a returning fighter––he played 'clown makeup guy' in BLOODSPORT 2, who is totally the same character––he just switched favorite bands from KISS to Cinderella:
Max Omega in BLOODSPORT 2...
There's also a fighter who's allowed to use a whip for some reason
and then there's my personal favorite, the aforementioned 'Stellio.' Played by UFC fighter Erik Paulson, Stellio kinda dresses in an unlikely fusion between 'Burning Man refugee' and 'roadie for Lynyrd Skynyrd.'
The next time we see him, he's sitting next to Bernhardt in the Kumite waiting area and he throws him a head nod, as if to say, 'Nice job, bro. We should hang out sometime.'
This is demonstrably fantastic. Also, later he bites Bernhardt's calves."
"I really stand by the Kumite scenes in this movie. The sound effects are ludicrously goopy––each punch and kick sounds like heads are being squished and hearts are being ripped out of bodies. And the whole thing is scored by what amounts to a hilariously 'action-y,' ersatz version of Hendrix's 'Foxy Lady.' Also, despite the nonstop kick-blasting action of the Kumite, the filmmakers felt the need to stick with their frame story, so occasionally we cut to Bernhardt & son on a camping trip and the son will say something like 'Wow, were you scared?' and Bernhardt will say 'No,' and then we cut back to the Kumite."
–"I appreciate that."
"Oh, yeah–––and during one of the frame story cutaways, we learn that Bernhardt's mastery of the 'Iron Hand' technique allows him to light fires with the force of his mind.
This magical ability is conspicuously not used at the Kumite. If he could, why didn't he go all 'CARRIE' on their asses?"
–"Oh man, I would totally watch a movie that was like a Kumite of Stephen King characters. Jack Torrance with his axe, Annie Wilkes with her sledgehammer, Carrie shooting fire..."
"Cujo, the Chattery Teeth, Pennywise, Randall Flagg... Yeah, I could see that working. I'm going to file the copyright on that right away. We can call it a 'King-itay.'
"Annnyway, we get to see a Double-Split Slap-Battle:
If you can't appreciate the exquisite poetry of a Double-Split Slap-Battle, then there's truly nothing I can do for you. You are lost. Awash. Forever at sea, unmoored. You will never know true joy."
–"No, I'm on board for that."
"Good. So the Kumite ends up going pretty much how you would expect, and Jean-Faux Van Bernhardt gets to do his best JCVD crazyface while drooling blood,
and he's good at it, too. This is authentic, JCVD-approved crazyface. Finally, at the end they replay that glorious 'Rhythm of the Kumite' song that closed out BLOODSPORT 2. And that's all she wrote."
–"I might actually have to watch this."
"I tentatively recommend. While it commits the unforgivable mistake of not bringing back 'Jackson' (Donald Gibb) as they did in BLOODSPORT 2 (what, was he busy or something?), at the end of the day BLOODSPORT III possesses a fair number of remarkable and spit-take-inducing moments, and some of the best-ever character names of third-string Kumite competitors. I give it three and a half stars."
–"That seems like a lot."
"It's really not. And I eagerly await viewing the next installment (BLOODSPORT 4: THE DARK KUMITE), which has a batshit reputation, seems to steal liberally from DEATH WARRANT, and indeed looks completely bananas."