The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Bloodsport 4: The Dark Kumite (1999)

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Daniel Bernhardt is very close to making the DTVC Hall of Fame. In evaluating him as a candidate, neither his work on the Mortal Kombat show on TNT or his cameo in the Matrix 2 can be taken into consideration. One big selling point for him so far is the fact his film Future War was used in an episode of MST3K.

And another big selling point for him is this film, Bloodsport 4. For the most part the film is crap, even for DTV. But it has one thing that makes it great: the bad guy is Ben Franklin. That's right, the dude on the $100 bill; one of our founding fathers (framers). Ben Franklin is the mastermind behind the Dark Kumite.

The film is simple: take one part Death Warrant, one part Bloodsport 2, mix in a little Eastern European city that's supposed to pass for an American one, and top it off with Ben Franklin. It's really not a bad deal.

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Bernhardt plays a cop who tries to catch a guy, then goes undercover in a prison, where he's press-ganged into the Dark Kumite by the prison's warden, who's working for Ben Franklin. He's got a hot chick for a partner, and she dresses like a nun to communicate with him while he's on the inside.

This movie was as bad as the description makes it sound. There's a guy who killed a cop. He's a good fighter too, and of course Bernhardt must face him in the Dark Kumite. We, the viewer, expect the bad guy to try and cheat in order to beat Bernhardt who outclasses him. In fact, it's the other way around: Bernhardt is outclassed by the bad guy, and must kick a pen through the guy's ear to beat him. I'm not kidding. It would be like in the first Bloodport if in the final battle Van Damme threw the powder from a crushed Alka Seltzer tablet in Bolo Yeung's face to blind him. I was left with the feeling of going to McDonald's and having the kid behind the counter act like he's better than me, but not being able to do anything about it for fear of someone spitting in my food.

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That being said, the head bad guy is Ben Franklin. It just takes all the unbearable and makes it fantastic. This movie is a hit wherever I take it for that reason alone. I don't know what the people who made the movie were thinking, but I like to believe it was "Jesus, that guy looks just like Ben Franklin! We gotta hire him on as the head bad guy!" One of my friends liked it so much, he decided to hold his own Dark Kumite.

You should be able to get this for $5. I think I found it on Amazon for that much. It's well worth it. I've actually owned it twice. My parents bought me a VHS copy of it for my birthday (that's when I was first introduced to it), and when I lost that, I bought it again on DVD. If I was a high school US History teacher, I'd show it in my class, and I think other US History teachers should show it too. I don't care if it's not on the AP test.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0172184/

4 comments:

  1. I always found Dark Kumites very difficult- why can't they use some a little natural light? It would be much easier to see.

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  2. It's an interesting question, but I think I have the answer. Remember Ben Franklin runs the Dark Kumite, and he pre-dates electricity. As such, the Kumite is Dark, because it's done by candle light. I'm not sure I would want to tell Ben he could use electric light, because he seems bad ass in the movie, and I'm sure his henchmen are a fraid to tell him too.

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  3. I was amazed at just how hard it can be to put together a dark kumite. Most people aren't as receptive to one's drunken entreaties to have one as I had imagined prior to my own attempt. The failure of my potential dark kumite gave me a lot more respect for Ben Franklin's abilities.

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  4. Yeah, he was quite the mensch. You never hear about Thomas Jefferson or Alexander Hamilton press ganging inmates from a local prison that just happen to be martial arts experts into Dark Kumites. The genius and foresight that man had is spectacular.

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