Ladies and gentlemen, the SUPREME WINNER of The Super-Kumite


Who you got?First of all, I want to thank everybody who read some of these things. I know it probly got repetitive, but I like that type of repetitive. I love comparing and contrasting similar movies, and I’m addicted to this particular subgenre, and I thought this would be a good way to study them. There was alot of randomness involved in this, because of wanting to only do movies I hadn’t seen before, and trying to have them connected in a way that the teams seem to make sense, and also with the difficulty in ascertaining which competitive fighting movies actually have tournaments in them. So whoever ends up losing, whether it’s all women or the people of Hong Kong, please don’t take it too hard. Even though you fuckin blew it.

mp_kumiteFor the deciding bout of this tournament of tournaments we ended up with  BARE KNUCKLES (2010) vs. THE KUMITE (2003), two movies that had alot of similarities. Both were about athletes trying to enter and win a tournament, but were more character and relationship driven than the movies like KICKBOXER and what not that formed the template for tournament movies. Both seemed influenced by other dramatic genres and film movements, not just trying to imitate the BLOODSPORT or BLOODFIST formulas. Both were PG-13, not getting into the blood part of bloodsport, or the standard sex scene (just kissing). Both had a washed up alcoholic manager/mentor who brings in two other trainers to help. Both had a hero who went into the tournament correctly assuming who they would have to face in the finals, and that opponent was an asshole, but showed a crack of humanity at the end.

Let’s look at the overall performance of these two teams. The Men From Hong Kong had MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE in round 1, far and away the best movie in The Super-Kumite, though its tournament is not the focus of the story. Their team had the most consistently high quality martial arts of the tournament, and featured true martial arts legends such as Jimmy Wang Yu, Gordon Liu and representing the new generation, early Scott Adkins.

The Women were more of a DIY team. All three entries are low budget b-movies, each with a compelling but little known star (Mimi Lesseos, Cat Sassoon, Jeanette Roxborough). PUSHED TO THE LIMIT and BARE KNUCKLES both seemed to be made by relative newcomers or outsiders to the world of feature filmmaking, rather than the established b-movie factories that made most of the movies we’ve studied here (including ANGELFIST). All three of these came into the competition as underdogs. I honestly didn’t expect them to win any of these matchups.

mp_bareknucklesOf our two finalists, THE KUMITE is the more polished movie. It definitely seems like a bigger budget, made by people with more experience. I feel like it might have better martial artists, too, but you can’t really tell for sure, due to post-action style filmatism. BARE KNUCKLES is shot in a cruder manner, but you can see the moves much better than in THE KUMITE, so the fights are more involving.

The relationship drama in BARE KNUCKLES is, to me, more interesting than in THE KUMITE. It deals with old timers who fell out regaining trust in each other and themselves, that’s always more interesting than standard boy meets girl shit.

Also, the hero is more likable. Not just because she has a better motive (providing for her disabled daughter as opposed to… just wanting to win I guess?) but she has a far better screen presence and charisma. I like her better as a character so I’m more interested in seeing her fight and win. And would’ve been disappointed if I didn’t find out if she won or not. (In THE KUMITE, of course, who gives a shit if he pulled it together after the freeze frame or not? He gets to get his teacher into trouble.)

Ladies and gentlemen, the Supreme Winner of The Super-Kumite, by unanimous decision of Super-Kumite Commissioner and Head Judge Yours Truly:




Congratulations to The Women, and to all women everywhere. No one believed in you, but you conquered all. Next I hope you take out the glass ceiling and those fuckers trying to deny you health care.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 6th, 2013 at 12:10 pm and is filed under Blog Post (short for weblog). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

17 Responses to “Ladies and gentlemen, the SUPREME WINNER of The Super-Kumite”

  1. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 6th, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    I followed the whole thing and loved reading every one of the Super-Kumite reviews. Pretty great stuff, Vern!

  2. I’ve loved this series Vern, both for its own inherent value and for the simple fact it gave us more of your prose.

    Thanks for that.

  3. The original Paul

    August 6th, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Woohoo! The underdog pulls through again. Mr Miyagi would be proud. (And what a pity it is that “The Next Karate Kid” couldn’t qualify for the final round for The Women.)

    I’d echo that this was a great series, and I’ve got a few more movies on my “to watch” list as a result of it. I wish we could’ve had a betting pool on the result though. I definitely would’ve laid a few pounds on the women, although I probably would’ve “spread bet” Bolo and Hong Kong as well.

    I’m gonna shamelessly pimp a couple of my recent posts here, because they’re probably going to get pushed out of the “recent comments” section in about ten minutes flat after this thread gets going. Here’s a very very long one that has my in-depth thoughts about the cinematic tool of exposition: https://outlawvern.com/2013/07/24/only-god-forgives/#comment-3013272

    And here’s a short one about a retro TV show with scantily-clad lesbian ninja fortune-tellers: https://outlawvern.com/2013/08/05/the-super-kumite-finals-bare-knuckles/#comment-3013256

    I try to cater for all tastes.

  4. Actually I’m surprised how varied the entries were. I thought there would be enough BLOODSPORT-aping, flaming-torches-on-the-wall, real-deal underground fight tournament movies to last the entire Super-Kumite and then some, but there were so many disqualifications, substitutions and odd twists on the formula.

    Hopefully there’ll be a Super-Kumite 2: The Next Kumite, and if so then I hope you’ll post some tournament rules and let us suggest entries. That way you’ll avoid any back-of-the-box-description shenanigans like you had this year.

  5. Thanks for writing these, Vern. These were some of my favorite things in a while and I look forward to the next tournament you end up doing!

  6. Team THE WOMEN is victorious, as I always knew they would be, as Women always are, except in American red states & in religious fundamentalist societies.

    Everything about this tournament of fight tournament movies pleases me, except that it has ended. I look forward to purchasing a THE SUPER-KUMITE jacket or 3 soon.

  7. Thanks for this, Vern, really enjoyed the whole series.

  8. Just wondering Vern, do you intend to review any of the films that couldn’t compete due to their team’s elimination? I’d be curious about your thoughts for TEKKEN, because as many problems there apparently are with stories, it is a tournament movie and the fight scene’s are meant to be good. Oh, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is in it looking like a Japanese Lee Van Cleef.

  9. I’m sorry, I still don’t understand how this works. How did MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE get eliminated?

    Love the reviews though. Will have to check some of these out.

  10. Fred: The movies were divided into teams of three, and each victory sent the next movie from the corresponding team through to the next bracket. So MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE didn’t get eliminated, it scored a crushing victory for team “The Men From Hong Kong”, sending it’s fellow team member EXTREME CHALLENGE through to the second round. I found it a little confusing too, but I guess it was the only way to ensure there were fresh movies in each match-up.

  11. Yes Stu, I definitely want to see that down the line, and I also plan to watch all the BLOODFISTs.

  12. Fred and Crustacean: that was the best method I could come up with, but if anybody can devise a different way to manage a Super-Kumite 2 later on I would love to do it.

  13. If it hasn’t already been done, could a page be created with links to all the Super-Kumite entries listed in chronological order? I want to urge some friends to read them, and having everything on one page would simplify things quite a bit. Thanks!

  14. I never had much to chime in on with these reviews but I very much enjoyed the series. Thanks for the good reads Vern!

  15. If it’s okay with Vern I’ll put that page together Mike and add it to the menu.

  16. That sounds great Clubside. I guess it’s hard to do without spoilers of what wins, though.

  17. Vern and/or Clubside: did the Super-Kumite page ever get created? I don’t see it anywhere.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>