Bloodsport vs. Balance of Power – 9 Reasons Why Bloodsport Works Better

3. The Heart of the Movie is Better Defined


Similar to having purpose, the heart of a movie must be clear. The heart of movie tells us where we’re going and why we care about the journey. Bloodsport is extremely judicious about it’s heart.

At the start of the movie we see the Kumite, we see a variety of fighters from around the world, we meet Frank, and then Frank goes to visit Tanaka and we see a flashback:

This combined with the previous scene of Tanaka talking about the past, tells us everything we need to know. Frank is going to compete in the Kumite to honour his Shidoshi, who not only trained him but was a central figure in Frank’s development and character. All this is done within the first seventeen minutes of the film.

By contrast, Balance of Power introduces Niko as a karate instructor for inner city kids. This entire background seems to serve two purposes: It establishes that Niko has a martial arts background, and it attempts to give us a reason to care about Niko. Spending your life dedicated to at-risk youth is admirable, but there needs to be something deeper, like the history Frank has with his Shidoshi, and the moment they share after Tanaka’s son dies.

When one of the kids from Niko’s dojo, Billy, gets shot Niko just gets up and runs away. Worse, after agreeing to team up with Matsumoto this happens:

Essentially the movie spends all that time building up this dojo backstory and as soon as it provides them the foundation they need they discard it simply because Matsumoto “is ready to go now.” This is a telling scene because Billy’s death needs to be important enough that we when we get reminders of it as the movie progresses, we can still remember the sting. This scene is so careless with the dojo that we are essentially told that none of it matters anymore.

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