Ladies and gentlemen, THE SUPER-KUMITE!

tn_Super-KumiteFriends, I am proud to announce a new outlawvern.com event, THE SUPER-KUMITE, tournament of tournaments. It is a 3-round tournament of fighting tournament movies, with only one victor.

I’ve been wanting to do this for a year or two, but it took me a while to figure out how to make it work. Even once I did I made some mistakes and had to do some adjustments. It turns out there are less straight-up tournament movies than I imagined, and weirdly little information about them on the internet.

Here’s how it will work: I’ve put together 8 teams of 3 movies each which will be pitted against each other in one-on-one match-ups. In round 1 the chronological first films from each of the eight teams will compete in four bouts. The four winning teams will send their second movie to round 2, to be whittled down to the two finalists, which will compete for the crown.

To qualify all movies must be new to me, that’s why BLOODSPORT and KICKBOXER are not in here. The movies also have to have an actual tournament in them, not just competitive fighting. This proved to be a big problem because it turns out many IMDb reviews and movie lists are unclear or incorrect about this aspect. I did not find any reliable lists of tournament movies online, so I hope to compile one at the end of this project.

Putting the teams together was harder than expected. Of course my initial hope was to have most teams be from a series. That works for BLOODSPORT and BLOODFIST, but when I watched KICKBOXER 3 it was only about a title match. That also happened with some of my non-series teams – the great NIGHT OF THE WARRIOR was about a fighting circuit, not a tournament, and made me realize I had to 86 Team Lamas. There may be disqualifications as the tournament goes on, but I weeded out all the non-applicable round 1 picks so that each one at least gave lip service to a tournament of some kind (for a few it is not the main story).

In the end I had to settle with some teams based around a connecting actor (Bolo Yeung, Billy Blanks) or a theme (starring a woman, based on a video game, Hong Kong productions) in order to make it work. So here are the teams (ceremonially carved into clay tablets, of course):

Once I had them figured out I seeded them at random by shuffling the stack of DVDs (and one tape). That worked out well because not only did two movies with “blood” in the title end up facing off, but one is a sequel to BLOODSPORT and the other has the same villain as BLOODSPORT. I almost had two “fist” movies against each other too until The Great FIST OF STEEL Mixup of ’13. So I ended up with fist vs. talon.

Here are the brackets:

Feel free to watch along at home or make your predictions if you’ve already seen some of these movies. Your judgments are encouraged but of course for THE SUPER-KUMITE I will be the supreme judge of who wins, based on my own criteria. I will be mainly looking for the most entertaining movie that either does a good rendition of the tournament movie formula or an interesting twist or violation of it. Decisions may be arbitrary and will be final.

This will be fun and I hope we’ll learn a few things by submerging ourselves in this classic but somewhat forgotten subgenre.

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31 Responses to “Ladies and gentlemen, THE SUPER-KUMITE!”

  1. I can’t imagine Team Video Game advancing to Round 2, which will save you the trouble of watching TEKKEN and KING OF FIGHTERS, which are both terrible.
    BUT I hope PUSHED TO THE LIMIT can defeat AMERICAN KICKBOXER, as I’d be really curious to read your review of ANGELFIST (even though it’s pretty crappy, too).

  2. I’m pulling for Red Fist Club on this one. BLOODFIST II opens with a shot of a bloody boxing glove. You can’t beat literality like that. Fuck you and your metaphors, TALONS OF THE EAGLE!

  3. Where is BLOODFIST 4? Easily better than its predecessors. But I´ll guess I am with Majestyk on this. Red Fist Club it is.I am all for some BLOODFIST. The temptation of SHOOTFIGHTER is great though.

  4. Ok, I read the instructions now,but I don´t remember any tournament fighting in BLOODFIST 3. part 1 and 2 have tournament fighting but not part 3, if I remember correctly.

  5. Can anyone confirm that? If so I could substitute Bloodfist 4 if we get that far.

  6. BLOODFIST 4 has no tournament fighting,I did not read the instructions that well at first. I am pretty sure part 3 has no tournaments either. It´s a prison movie,that is all.

  7. I love this. I’ll be pulling for MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE, but really, they’re all winners already.

  8. Look at the later BLOODFIST-movies,though. I think there are about eight of them, there might be a tournament movie among them.

  9. By the way, I have to admit, ANGELFIST has more shower scenes than fighting, the plot is more about the main character dicking around Manila trying to figure out who murdered her sister than about the tournament, and there are only two actual characters in that tournament (the main character and one of the villains) fighting a bunch of nameless karate girls, so it’s not really like BLOODSPORT or THE QUEST.

  10. MORTAAAAAAAAL KOMBAT: THE QUICKIE CASH IN CARTOON is really, really, awful. I remember watching it when I was 13 and liked everything that had ninja kicks. That was the first thing I ever didn’t like featuring such activity.

    MK:TJBs is this tournament’s equivalent of Fred Ettish.

  11. I think Master of the Flying Guillotine will win but in my heart, I’m secretly pulling for Angelfist.

  12. My money is on MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLONTINE. It is a favorite of mine, but we the readers are the real winners. This is going to be awesome!

  13. Outstanding. This is why Vern gets paid the big bucks.

    I’m a patriotic motherfucker, but I don’t feel too great about my American boys’ chances here. Maybe if Vern manages to have the championship round fall on July 4th, that’ll be a good sign. But it would also be extra-insulting if the American movie in the final round were to lose on our Independence Day. But then it would hear the echoes of the cries from the women the tournament organizer had kidnapped to coerce it to join the tournament in the first place, and it’d scrounge up some sand while the bad guy prematurely celebrated, focusing through blood-splattered swollen eyelids just enough to find the target, immobilizing the haughty antagonist with a gust of dust and leaping with hitherto unknown energy into a series of slow-motion roundhouses, uppercuts, and that one move it tried to learn 25 minutes into the movie but never perfected until now. U-S-A! U-S-A!

    Anyway, MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE is easily my favorite among the ones I’ve seen.

    Incidentally, Gary Daniels *is* FORCED TO FIGHT (2012, a spiritual sequel to & 20th anniversary celebration of BLOODFIST 3 in my opinion) is about underground fighting, but it doesn’t quite meet the tournament-narrative technical standards of Vern Presents The Super-Kumite!. It’s a really bad movie, its action conventional & competent rather than memorable or daring, but it does have Peter Weller in “don’t give a fuck dtv-ham” mode (same vibe he gave in DRAGON EYES) and a nifty training montage that we can all appreciate:

    We all know DOA: DEAD OR ALIVE: DECEASED OR LIVING: EXPIRED OR FRESH (2007) would dominate the video game bracket if Vern hadn’t just reviewed it 6 months ago.

  14. I don´t understand the celebration of BLOODFIST 3 since Gary Daniels clearly fights Don Wilson in BLOOD FIST 4 and nowhere else.

  15. The full title of BLOODFIST 3 is BLOODFIST III: FORCED TO FIGHT, is what I was getting at.

    But yeah, you’re right, I forgot he was even in BLOODFIST 4.

    Anyone else enjoying being thoroughly confused by so many similar sounding titles?

  16. One of the most entertaining tournament movies I’ve ever seen is Full Contact, starring Jerry Trimble. It’s got one of the female actors from Angelfist (Denise Buick). It also has Michael Jai White in one of his earliest roles (who, sadly, doesn’t do any fighting) and Al Powell from Die Hard (who does do some fighting). As far as I know, it’s only available on VHS, though.

  17. If you need another movie to sub in, American Samurai has a tournament.

    Also, I think Fatal Contact is a fight circuit, not a tournament. Great movie, though.

    Of the actual tournament movies, my hopes and dreams rest with Master of the Flying Guillotine.

  18. If we’re being honest, STEP UP 3D already won this tournament of tournaments a long time ago.

    It’s the champion emeritus in my opinion. And I don’t care that technically it’s not a fighting movie or that it is bloodless or that it didn’t actually undergo the machinations of an earlier iteration of Vern’s awesome tournament. STEP UP 3D is clearly an action movie and a masterpiece of the kung fu genre with some excellent training montages, colorful characters, a jaw-dropping heart-elevating climax, and athletic feats that dominate the low-level crap we’re seeing in some of the SUPER-KUMITE!’s entrants.

  19. I really hope the trophy the winning film receives is called “The Brakus Bowl”.

  20. Flying Guillotine is not in the same weight class as Mortal Combat. It’s the most one sided bout of the first round. But the rest of the Hong Kong team is not as strong. The Bolo squad has an impressive roster. Could go a long way.

  21. BLOODFIST III doesn’t have tournament fighting in it, it’s a prison film. Having said that, I think it’s worth a non-Super Kumite viewing at a later date.

    You’d have to go all the way to BLOODFIST 2050 (sans Don “The Dragon” Wilson) for the series to return to tournament fighting.

  22. Ah shit, is that true? If so I’ll skip ahead to 2050 (if it comes to that) and then double back after the tournament.

  23. CrustaceanHate

    May 29th, 2013 at 1:20 am

    Yeah, BLOODFIST 3 was an unrelated prison film that was retitled to cash in on BLOODFIST 1 and 2. The rest of the series are mostly generic action thrillers where Wilson accidentally discovers some nuclear triggers and goes on the run from the CIA or terrorists or something. I think Carlos is right in that you’d need to go to the post-apocalyptic wastelands of 2050 to find some tournament fighting.

  24. CrustaceanHate

    May 29th, 2013 at 1:37 am

    Also, FEARLESS TIGER has some funny bits, but it’s not really a tournament fighter and Bolo is barely in it. SHOOTFIGHTER 2 fits the bill a lot better, if you can track it down.

  25. If there’s some replacement needed in Team Bloodsport, I don’t think Vern ever reviewed Van Damme’s directorial debut THE QUEST (even though if memory serves, it’s watchable but not great).

  26. I really tried to fit in THE QUEST (I think I’ve seen it, but if so I don’t really remember it), but I just couldn’t figure out any way to tie it in with 3 other eligible movies to form a team. Otherwise it sounds like it fits what I’m looking for to a T.

  27. Well, like Toxic says, The Quest is basically just a Bloodsport movie without “Bloodsport” in the title. Frank Dux (famous con artist and fake kumite champion) even has a story credit. That’s got to count for something.

  28. Yeah, THE QUEST is nothing more than a BLOODSPORT remake, but it is a pretty enjoyable one. It is not nearly as good as BLOODSPORT, but it has some fun twists. For example it is a period piece and it plays like BLOODSPORT set in the world of Indiana Jones (it even features a zeppelin). It also has a strong supporting cast lead by James Remar & Roger Moore, and is a respectable directorial debut for JCVD. The movie looks good and all the actions is clearly shot and staged.

    Vern, in spirit of the Super-Kumite, I think it would be awesome if THE QUEST subbed in as a surprise entrant into the tournament for a fallen competitor.

  29. I like THE QUEST. As Charles said, a really strong cast surrounding Jean-Claude. It is aonce in a lifetime Roger Moore/JCVD matchup, so in that way it is unique.

  30. The Original... Paul

    June 1st, 2013 at 12:07 am

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Interesting.

    I’m somewhat handicapped by mostly having seen movies like these only after Vern has reviewed them, and of course he hasn’t reviewed these. So my knowledge is sorely lacking. From what I HAVE seen I’d have to go with Bolo, Blanks, or the women as the winner. (I haven’t seen every film in any single bracket, so I could be missing some stinkers.) But I haven’t seen the Red Fist Club movies and a couple of people are backing them, so… I don’t know.

    Oh, and I also like “The Quest”, although it does take a while to really get going.

  31. The Original... Paul

    June 1st, 2013 at 4:25 am

    Or Hong Kong. Damn, how did I miss picking that one as a favorite?

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