"The Kumite is for the fighters, not for the people who read the newspapers."   - Frank

release year: 1988
genre: martial arts
viewing setting: home DVD, 11/15/17 and 12/6/13 and 11/8/02

synopsis: An American travels to Hong Kong to participate in the toughest of all illegal fighting tournaments.

impressions: This is about as close as you can get to the perfect movie: a basic plot, very little quiet time, and fight upon fight featuring a variety of styles and an excess of brutality. The love interest is purely token and never really has a chance of talking the hero out of his goal. This is a good thing, as he not only participates in numerous fights, but watches as others do. Even after almost 20 years, this movie is still a classic that entertains by virtue of a variety of fighters with a variety of styles, all beating the hell out of each other.

number of Kumite matches in this movie: 29 (though some of them are just glimpses)

acting: This was Van Damme's first starring role, and probably his best; he actually seems sincere about winning this thing to honor his dying sensei. Donald Gibbs (who played "Ogre" in Revenge of the Nerds) is a big brawler-type here. Leah Ayres is quite attractive as a reporter who really wants to get this story. Bolo Yeung (who was one of the main evil henchmen in Enter the Dragon) is the evil reigning champion here; he struts about with the same sort of attitude (and gigantic pectoral muscles) that Arnold had in Pumping Iron.

funny commentary about this movie: Seanbaby's movies page

final word: This is the grandfather of illegal fighting tournament movies and is a must-see for fans of such.

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