Written By Zak Attack
A dramatic journey through the dreck we all know and love
Why Did I Watch This?
As I mentioned after watching its predecessor, Bloodfist II is but one entry in a nine-film franchise (much like the venerated Air Bud movies). The first movie, however, fails miserably by being a fighting movie with completely uninspired choreography. But… there was nine of them. They can’t all be bad! I’m sure one of those Air Bud movies was at least watchable as well.
Bloodfist II was #3,412 in my overall queue, skipping 3,411 more deserving movies so I could write this article. Netflix only thought I would give it 2.2 out of 5 stars… which doesn’t bode well since it thought I would give the original Bloodfist 2.9.
How Did I Watch It?
Had some bottles of Arcadia HopMouth Double IPA. This was a little more caramel-y sweet than most IPAs and definitely more drinkable than than most doubles. There wasn’t too heavy a hop flavor at the end… medium body.
Also, I was folding my laundry while I watched it. I was watching Bloodfist movies left and right, apparently, so something productive needed to be done.
Apparently the Bloodfist series is an American Horror Story style anthology? See, in the first movie Jake Raye (Don “The Dragon” Wilson) quit fighting because of career-ending kidney removal. It may have not had much bearing on the end of the movie, but it was there. In Bloodfist II his name is still Jake Raye, but the opening has him kill a guy during a match by roundhousing him in the neck. So he quits because of the emotional trauma instead of that kidney thing.
Jake’s buddy Vinny (Maurice Smith) gives him a call and asks him to go to Manila (just like the first movie) and help him out with some trouble he has with some organized crime down there. The head of this organized crime syndicate is a man named Su, who happens to be played by Joe Mari Avellana. You might recognize him as the mentor turned villain of the first movie… so maybe this is, like, an Elseworlds tale or something? Why didn’t they just change Rayes’ name! It would make this whole thing so much easier. Anyway, Jake rolls into The Philippines like a knight in shining armor, but is kidnapped and taken to “Paradise Island” where he is told he needs to fight in an underground tournament.
Unlike the original Bloodfist or the obnoxious Bangkok Knockout, this underground fighting tournament is kept nice and simple. The only real wrench in the operation is that the “evil” team of fighters is being pumped full of anabolic steroids. The rich gamblers aren’t invested in the fights, they’re invested in the performance of the drugs they are looking to buy and sell on the black market. Many of the kidnapped fighters are killed by the drugged up wackos employed by Su. Luckily, Rayes actually doesn’t even fight that much in the tournament. He escapes early and sneaks around trying to release the other prisoners and investigate the case of the ‘roided up bad guys (Hardy Boys-style). He finds out that his friend Vinny was actually working for Su and sold him out. You know the drill, there are some fights and some shoot-outs, Rayes gets climactic revenge against Vinny, and then he kicks Su off a freakin’ balcony. THE END.
Right from the get-go, the fight choreography of Bloodfist II greatly surpasses that of Bloodfist. While the setting of the fighting pit is a bit bland, first (and only) time director Anyd Blumenthal leaves the last movie in the dust with how he uses the camera. Many of the shots are static and far enough away to highlight actual confrontation, and when the camera does move it enhances the feeling of being in the pit. Similarly, the edits are clearly responsive to the movement of the fighters instead of dictating the action. More importantly, this is a fighting movie and the emphasis is rightfully on fighting. This might sound idiotically basic, but it’s important to show that some people have different fighting styles. Even Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Kickboxer knew that traditional “kickboxing” could be adapted in a variety of ways to keep the audience engaged. While, Bloodfist II might not have had Billy “Tae Bo” Blanks, it did have experts in the fields of karate, MMA, Greco-Roman wrestling, etc. and treated them with the uniqueness they deserved. In fact, one of the more interesting scenes involves “good guy” Olympic wrestler Ernest (Steve Rogers… yea, I know! Captain America!) facing off against one of the kickboxers in the villain’s employ. Nearly the whole fight involves Ernest sitting cross-legged on the floor while anticipating all hits and kicks in a nonchalant manner comparable to that time Neo first realized he could dodge bullets. He grapples, flips, and bites in a frustrating performance that’s actually fun to watch. Seeing one fighting style triumph over another is one of the joys of the simple “fighting tournament” narrative set-up.
Bloodfist II may be extremely low-budget and pale in comparison to a multitude of fighting/action movies, but there’s something to admire in its bare bones commitment to the genre. In addition to finally injecting character into the fight choreography, the give-and-take between martial arts fights and “larger battles… with guns!” are admirable. Every couple minutes there is some sort of fight, chase, or suspenseful scene. All of these are done competently enough that the action beats add up to a breezy and (at least somewhat) engaging experience.
It’s inadvisable to continue comparing this to the first Bloodfist, but that movie’s performances ranged from weird to inept and all the boring line readings in between. Lacking anything too weird or risky, Bloodfist II somehow manages to contain even worse acting by virtue of its safeness. The only character who has the chance to go broad is Avellana’s villainous Su. However, this merely allows for something that is equal parts distractingly “out there” and bland.
Meanwhile, by simplifying the story, Bloodfist II creates ample opportunities to attempt more interesting characterization. In theory, this is great… but it seems that nobody is up to the task. For example, in the first movie Jake Raye and his love interest have no chemistry. He meets her while she’s spinning around on the roof like a 7 year-old hearing their favorite song… and then they have sex. By providing the romance more time to develop in the sequel, the filmmakers merely give everyone more opportunities to fail. The love interest is Su’s daughter Mariella (Rina Reyes), whose increasingly wooden line-readings do nothing to engage the audience in the central “Is she good or is she bad?” question. The sole love scene occurs after they’ve been running from guards at Su’s luxurious manson. They sneak into a small storage room while men with assault weapons are looking for them. Since closets don’t typically lock from the inside, they simply stack up some cardboard boxes to hide behind like a couple of panicking 9 year-olds who hear the hide-and-seek countdown reaching zero. Henchman 1 opens the door, sees a catty-cornered stack of boxes, and assumes all is well. The hero’s appropriate response? Make out. Men with guns are literally right outside the door! They can probably hear you snogging!
Was It Worth Watching?
Since I was wishy-washy on my dislike for the previous movie in the series, I’ll go ahead and say that I liked Bloodfist II. “Liked”, not “loved”. While I don’t expect any action fan to finish the film truly satiated, it mostly works as a low-grade punch/kickfest.
Check out the full movie below on YouTube while it lasts.
Zak has been an avid movie fan since his mom made him cover his eyes before the “icicle stabbing” when they rented Die Hard 2 in 2nd grade. As a consolation, in 6th grade he got straight A’s so she gave him the entire Die Hard trilogy on VHS. The rest is history.
The views and commentaries expressed on these pages are solely those of their authors and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by ActionAGoGo.com
All images courtesy of Concorde Films