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Thursday, 11 May 2017

DVD Of The Week: Lady Bloodfight (2016)


Ex-waitress Jane (Amy Johnston), who quickly proves she's naturally handy with her fists (which is why she's an EX waitress), travels to Hong Kong to take part in a secretive, high stakes, mixed martial arts tournament.

Soon after arriving, she is set upon by a gang of muggers, and has to be saved by local Wudang champion Shu (Muriel Hofmann).

Shu takes Jane on as her apprentice and trains the American for the all-female competition, where she will face Ling (Jenny Wu), the cat burglar-turned-fighter, who has been trained by Shu's rival, Wai (Kathy Wu).

The underground, invitation-only, tournament itself is called The Kumite, which as well as being a genuine karate event, is also the name of the underground tournament in Jean-Claude Van Damme's 1988 classic Bloodsport, which Lady Bloodfight is loosely based upon.

Plenty of great fight sequences help Lady Bloodfight triumph over its occasionally clunky script (which is riddled with clichés and fortune cookie wisdom), some suspect acting, and a couple of risible appearances by a ghost!

The 97-minute movie also suffers from glaring plot holes - from its rather nebulous time frame (Just how often are these tournaments held? Why do the muggers still have Jane's stolen rucksack and all its contents three months later? etc) to the unaddressed elephant-in-the-room of why - and how - Jane's father participated in this all-female tournament in the past?

This is a key element of the plot (being how Jane knows of the contest, and solving the mystery of his subsequent disappearance is a major motivation for her participation), but it just doesn't make sense, given everything else we are shown and told about the event.

It would have been way cooler if it was her mother who had participated (then disappeared) and her father was the drunk asleep on the sofa at home whose life Jane was hoping to elevate with the bounty gained by winning the Kumite.

In fact, Jane's errant father is connected to another gaff in Lady Bloodfight: Jane carries a burned photograph of her younger self and her father that she shows people on several occasions, only the burned corner of the picture swaps sides between scenes (I'm pretty certain the actual photograph reverses itself, so the subjects are looking in a different direction!)

Quite unexpectedly, there's also an odd, subtle, supernatural element (which ties in to the 'ghost' mentioned above) that works without being really developed or explained in the otherwise 'real-world' setting of the film.

An important plot point in getting Jane to the final round of the contest (come on, that's not really a spoiler, is it?), this welcome revelation is a surprising ingredient that makes this tale that bit more memorable.

I guess depending on your feelings about martial arts, it can be accepted as just "one of those things".

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