Lady Bloodfight (2016)

ladybloodfight

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2016, Voltage Pictures/B&E Entertainment

Director:
Chris Nahon
Producer:
Bey Logan
Writers:
Bey Logan (story and screenplay)
Judd Bloch (screenplay)
Cinematography:
Michel Abramowicz
Editing:
Chris Nahon

Cast:
Amy Johnston (Jane)
Muriel Hoffman (Shu)
Jenny Wu (Ling)
Kathy Wu (Wai)
Jet Tranter (Cassidy)
Mayling Ng (Svietta)
Sunny Coelst (Jaa)
Rosemary Vandenbroucke (Yara)
Lisa Cheng (Lam)
Chalinene Bassinah (Alia)
Lauren Rhoden (Van)
Kirt Kishita (Mr. Sang)
Cynthia Ho (Black Dragon Society Leader)
Harry Du Young (Ring Announcer)

The long awaited martial arts film, a female version of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Bloodsport, had the potential but suffers from a major issue when it comes to this genre.

Five years ago, best friends turned rivals Shu and Wai compete in the finals of the Kumite. When the Black Dragon leader declares the fight a draw, Wai refuses to share the prize money with Shu. The leader decides to have the score settled at the next Kumite by having each of them find a student capable of representing them. Meanwhile, over the next five years, many new Kumite fighters are chosen from the Brazilian Yara to Russian prisoner Svietta.

Jane, an American woman who learned martial arts from her father, has been fired from her job when she confronted an arrogant customer. With nowhere else to go, she remembers her father was in Hong Kong but had never heard from him again. Determined, Jane goes to Hong Kong but finds herself robbed on her first day there. When he is knocked out by the robbers’ leader, she is saved and nursed back to health by Shu, who may have found the one she is waiting for. Meanwhile, Wai has found her student in punk girl Ling, who is looking for a way to start her life over. Three months of training occur and now it is time for the Kumite. Who will win and what secrets does this tournament hold?

Bey Logan is quite an interesting figure in the world of filmmaking. Getting his start training in kung fu while living in Hong Kong, the British-born actor and filmmaker would get his start appearing with Donnie Yen in Circus Kids and the Fist of Fury TV series. Moving on to appear in later fare and helping out behind the scenes, Logan had formed his own production company. While Shadowguard, his first attempt as a producer of this caliber, was met with some resistance from fans as well as “director” Michael Biehn, who had denounced the film, it didn’t bring him down.

Which takes us to this retread with a twist of the 1987 hit film Bloodsport. Now, one must give Logan some serious credit here in terms of story. The story plays a vital part in the film, which revolves not around Amy Johnston’s Jane going to Hong Kong to fight in the Kumite, but a nice added twist includes the rivalry between Jane’s teacher Shu, played by Muriel Hoffman, who for some strange reason brings a performance that brings Michelle Yeoh into mind; and Wai, played by Kathy Wu. The reason for their rivalry isn’t revealed until later in the film, but even that reason has a twist that is unexpected and for some reason it works. Add to the fact that Jane is also searching for her father, who had been missing since competing in a Kumite years ago, adds some tension to the film.

However, the major issue lies in a problem when it comes to action films. Director/editor Chris Nahon, who had worked previously on Jet Li’s Kiss of the Dragon and Blood: The Last Vampire, took an approach to editing that should never have been done for this film. When shooting a martial arts film, fans want to see what techniques are being used. In some cases, Nahon does succeed with some of the fights. However, most of them suffer from a vastness of quick cuts and shaky cam that sadly make the fights look subpar. It is sad too considering the fight choreographer of the film is the legendary Xiong Xin-Xin, best known as Clubfoot in the Once Upon a Time in China films and had done some excellent choreography in the underrated The Musketeer. As a result, performances from the likes of martial artists Jet Tranter (as the Aussie version of Ray Jackson, Cassidy) and Mayling Ng (as the psychotic Russian Svietta) along with Johnston seem to be a wasted effort.

Lady Bloodfight has a good structured storyline with some intricate twists. However, if you’re expecting some frenetic martial arts action, the editing will make you skip this and look elsewhere. In the case of Amy Johnston, she does have Female Fight Club coming in August and Mayling Ng can be seen in Wonder Woman. So there’s that.

WFG RATING: C-

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