Bloodsport III (1997)

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Alex Cardo is back and this third installment is seen as a flashback of how he once again enters the Kumite for a simple motive: revenge.

During a camping trip with his son, Alex Cardo inquires his son Jason about him becoming the Kumite champion. Excited, Alex tells him the story of how he had no choice but to defend his title. After winning the ceremonial sword, in exchange for the release of his mentor Master Sun, Alex is invited to an event by businessman Jacques Duvalier. Duvalier is sponsoring another Kumite and has asked Alex to defend his championship. However, Alex has decided not to do it Upset and determined, Duvalier sends his men to get rid of Master Sun as a message.

Seeking revenge, Alex turns to an old friend, James Leung. Leung recommends Alex to see Master Makato, who was the head judge of the last Kumite. Makato is revealed to be Sun’s brother and learning of his brother’s death, offers to train Alex. Under Makato’s training, Alex has learned a new variation of the Iron Hand technique. With his training completed, Alex is determined to crash the Kumite and take on all comers to take on Duvalier’s champion, the Beast, all in the name of vengeance.

The third installment of the Bloodsport series was actually shot back-to-back with the second film, with both offering to bring up Daniel Bernhardt as a potential action star. Interestingly enough, the film would become connected with Bernhardt’s current work as a stunt performer and supporting actor with the 87Eleven Stunt Team. That comes in the form of the stunt team’s co-founder Chad Stahelski and member J.J. Perry play two of the Kumite fighters in the film.

Like its predecessor, the film is told in a flashback. However, where James Hong’s Master Sun was the narrator of Bloodsport II telling his students about Alex, it is now our hero being the narrator as he tells to his young son Jason on a camping trip about his last experience with the Kumite. Sadly, there isn’t any humor relief in this one as well. Instead, it is a full-on action film with revenge as the motive as Alex seeks revenge against the mastermind behind his master’s untimely death only to learn under the brother of his mentor.

Taekwondo grandmaster Hee Il Cho is a suitable replacement as the new mentor, Master Makato and it also helps that Bernhardt is Grandmaster Cho’s real-life student so that connection works just as well. Veteran John Rhys-Davies is the devious mastermind this time around and having seen him in various hero roles, it is hard to see him as a villain at times. And yet, his performance does bring a positive light to the film.

While for the most part, the fights, now choreographed by Steven Ito, Chad Stahelski, and Brad Martin, are quite exciting to watch, the re does lie in one little issue that tends to cause problems in terms of fan watching. What has been great about the original Bloodsport’s Chong Li and Bloodsport II’s Demon is that they possess martial arts skills. For this one, Duvalier’s champ The Beast is just that with Nicholas Oleson relying solely on his strength and without any of the technical skills that made both the previous villains exciting to watch. Compared to its predecessors, the fight is shorter and does play the old “hit me, hit you” riff that could have been better executed.

Bloodsport III is not a bad sequel but it does have its flaws. However, the good here outweigh the bad and continues to boost up Daniel Bernhardt as Kumite champion Alex Cardo.

WFG RATING: B-

An FM Entertainment Production. Director: Alan Mehrez. Producer: Alan Mehrez. Writer: James Williams; based on original characters created by Jeff Schechter. Cinematography: Kevan Lind. Editing: Ron Cabreros.

Cast: Daniel Bernhardt, John Rhys-Davies, Amber Van Lent, Uni Park, Pat Morita, James Hong, Grandmaster Hee Il Cho, Chad Stahelski, J.J. Perry, Erik Paulson, Steven Ito, Nicholas Oleson, David Schatz.

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