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MFF Theory – A Closer Look at the Final Fight in Bloodsport

November 23, 2021

Quick Note – This theory is meant to be fun, and is based on observations and statistics. I’m not saying “see, what I would do is deliver a quadruple spin kick, then land a quintuplet elbow on JCVD.”  I fully realize that Dux and Chong-Li (heck, any of the Kumite fighters would hurt me) would obliterate every bone/joint/blood vessel in my body. 

While researching Bloodsport for a data article, the seed of an idea was planted in my mind. The added scrutiny and analysis made me wonder if Chong-Li, the ultimate badass, lost the championship fight on purpose. Think about it, in his first eight fights in the tournament, he proved himself to be a tactician, who despite a few rough spots, showed everyone that he understands angles, utilizes footwork well, and knows how to take down his opponents with strategic strikes. Watch this GIF, and remember it when I break down the final fight. 

Watch the eight fights again (link here, or find timestamps in breakdown of fights below), then watch the final. Chong-Li completely falls apart. There’s a reason for this, as the championship brawl was choreographed and filmed to showcase the many skills of JCVD. The problem is, by showcasing these skills, the final fight plays completely false. In the context of the movie, it seems like Chong-Li either completely forgot how to fight, or was forced to lose after killing his opponent and losing favor with the Triads who were allowing the tournament to be fought in Hong Kong, and the Black Dragon Society (who have a rich and powerful heritage – 00:35:25), and their co-sponsor the International Fighting Arts Association (IFAA) – who clearly didn’t like that Chong-Li snapped a semifinalists neck. Or, he could’ve been threatened after his semi-final match by the Royal Hong Kong Police who were working with the American military to keep the US asset (Frank Dux – the US military spent a lot of time and money training him) alive and healthy. Either way, Chong-Li was a different fighter in the finals, and in the context of the film, there has to be a reason.

Here’s the first of many examples. During the film, there are many shots of Chong-Li watching Frank Dux fight. He’s clearly examining Dux’s style, and learning what makes him dangerous (for instance, 86% of his strikes come from his right kicks or punches). He’s already seen Dux land a rick kick immediately in his fight against Joao Gomez (00:56:35), so, why does he let Dux do the same exact thing again (01:17:58)? In his prior fights, he avoided 21 strikes via blocking, footwork, or jumping. The best fighter in the world wouldn’t let this happen. 

While workshopping this theory, several people brought up legitimate concerns (or told me I was insane) such as the blinding salt, and the fact that he didn’t seem to care that the fighting community turned their backs on him. However, you saw the reaction to everyone in the tournament when he killed Chuan IP Mang. Yes, he had killed someone in the Kumite tournament five years ago, but, it sounds like he landed a throat strike during the fight, and that killed his foe. However, in the tournament featured in the film, he blatantly snapped a guy’s neck after winning the fight. This is a really bad look considering the recent sponsorship by a major martial arts association, and the fact that he’s fighting an AWOL American (who the army spent a lot of money on) who has the American Military, Hong Kong police, and well funded journalists on his tail. 

Here are some examples of the added scrutiny and pressure that Janice (a reporter), and the American/Hong Kong police placed on the Kumite

  • Janice goes to the Hong Kong Police, and says”I have a friend fighting in it, and I don’t want him to get hurt.” (01:04:46). She’s a reporter. Imagine if Frank is killed, and she writes about how she warned authorities. It’s game over for the Kumite, who have been working deals with the Triad, and allowing people to be killed. 
  • Frank is told “Look Frank, the government has invested a lot of time and money in you. Uncle Sam can’t afford to let you get hurt.” (00:45:28:00) – Frank then says “I won’t get hurt.” The response is “That’s why we’re here, to make sure of that.” – I know they are trying to stop him from fighting, but when that doesn’t work, they work other angles
  • Rawlins says “Now what? How are we going to stop him? – Helmer says “Follow me.” (01:09:25). Rawlins clearly has a plan, and with Chen with him, they have enough power to get a seat at the tournament. 

After the neck snap, the Black Dragon Society (and their hundreds of years of tradition) and the entire fighting community literally turned their backs on him. Which is saying something considering nobody turned their backs when Paco dropped three face destroying knees to an opponent’s face (00:43:30:00 – he would have killed the guy), Frank Dux hit a man so hard in the testicles, he passed out (00:59:31), Pumula was clearly trying to break backs (00:44:00), and Chong-Li head stomped Ray Jackson’s head (01:01:35). The death was excessive, and opened doors for outsiders to put pressure on Chong-Li

I don’t think it was a coincidence that Chong-Li forgot how to fight during the final. During the final, he had several chances to “break” Dux, and he didn’t. After he blinded Dux, he let 70+ seconds of screen time pass before he threw a telegraphed punch. To hide being forced to take a fall, Chong-Li added the blinding salt element to disguise any trace of him throwing the fight. Think about it, after the fight, everyone is going to be talking about how a momentarily blinded Frank Dux landed pinpoint strikes on the prior champion. Yes, it destroys Chong-Li’s honor, but, after snapping a dude’s neck, he didn’t have any left. Also, he can hide behind the fact that he lost to someone trained by the famous Shinzo Tanaka, who has quite the reputation at the tournament, and his ninjutsu teachings (blindfold fighting) must be known around the world. 

To build my theory, here’s a stats breakdown of Chong-Li and Frank Dux. I also included highlights from each fight (and their timestamps), to show that Chong-Li  lost the final fight on purpose. 

Quick note – I’ve based the theory on an assumption. But, to build this theory, I’ve made sure to include boatloads of stats to hopefully make you consider it for a minute or two. 

Chong-Li Stats 

Take a look at this collage. He is ducking, blocking, jumping, exploding, and catching in his first eight fights. It’s worth mentioning the way he handled Chuan Ip Mung (01:13:05), who is a legit fighter (fights at 00:43:10  – 00:44:06 – 00:56:30) and capable of knocking people out with his hands and feet. Chong-Li does get tagged a few times, but he absorbs the strikes, adapts to the style, then blocks everything thrown at him. Chong-Li is legit

Here’s a breakdown of the final fight. I’ve included timestamps so you can see how he lost the fight on purpose. 

  • 01:17:58 – Chong-Li has watched all of Frank’s fights, and knows that of his 50 landed  punches/kicks during the tournament, 43 of them come from Frank’s right hand or leg (86%). What does Chong-Li do? He immediately gets kicked in the face by the same right high kick that Frank used in his fifth fight. 
  • 01:18:35 – When they get back into the center of the mat, Franks lifts his leg, and just unloads on Chong-Li. 
  • 01:18:39 – Chong-Li’s first major strike of the fight sends Dux flying onto the mat. Chong-Li does not capitalize, and he looks a bit worried that Frank might be done..
  • 01:18:57 – When Frank is hurt, Chong-Li throws him back towards the center of the mat. He could’ve kicked him out, instead he lets him recover
  • 01:19:17 – Chong-Li walks directly into a kick. 
  • 01:19:34 – Chong-Li runs at Frank, stops, and gets kicked in the head. Also, Frank jumps over him, Chong-Li has seen him do this before. 
  • 01:19:47 – Chong-Li throws the worst waymaker in the history of the Kumitae
  • 01:20:12 – He lets everyone know that he is cheating. Seriously, the ref, the crowd, and everyone in the building sees him blind Frank. 
  • 01:21:05 – After knocking Frank down, he takes a page from Jackson’s playbook, and starts jumping around like a big dummy. He also could’ve stomped Frank’s head into nothingness and won. 
  • 01:21:37 – Chong-Li lets Frank regain his bearings for 71 seconds of screen time. 
  • Theory – It’s 100% possible that Chong-Li knew about Frank’s Ninjutsu training, and that Senzo Tanaka (of the Tanaka Clan) trained him. Sp, the blinding attack, would only make Frank look better in hindsight
  • 01:22:52 – Chong-Li completely falls apart and throws telegraphed punches, and does nothing to avoid any strikes. Dude lost on purpose. 
  • 01:24:06 – Chong-Li rolls under Frank. Why?
  • Take a look at this punch – 01:24:12:00 – It looks like Chong-Li wants to slap Frank. Instead, he leaves himself completely open to get kicked. 
  • 01:24:21  -Chong-Li stands there and gets leveled by four spinning kicks..Nah

Take a look at this collage. Dude wasn’t trying. 

It’s interesting that in a tournament that allows strikes to the back of the head (Chong-Li does it in an earlier brawl), he avoids this proven technique, and instead throws a telegraphed punch that is blocked easily, followed with a Dux kick from his right leg.

It’s interesting that when he first blinded Frank, he found success on his left side (01:20:48:00). Then, he delivers these strikes on his right side. 

Many questions arise when you realize that it took 71 seconds of screen time for Chong-Li to attack a blind(ish) Dux. Slow motion was clearly used, but there is still a good chunk of time that went by. 

Conclusion – Yes, the final fight makes JCVD look awesome. However, Chong-Li,  a world class martial artist, who has been practicing martial arts his entire life, completely forgets how to fight, and loses to a temporarily blinded opponent, whom he would have destroyed with ease. I’m thinking either the Black Dragon Society, Hong Kong Royal Police, or the Triads forced him to lose because they didn’t want an international incident. Also, with Janice being a journalist, if Frank was seriously injured, she would’ve written a piece that highlights the violence, secrecy, and criminal connections of the Kumite. It would’ve been game over. Chong-Li most likely lost on purpose. 

Here is a breakdown of Frank and Chong-li’s fights, to prove that I analyzed them closely, and looked for strategy, footwork, usage of angles, and all around fight IQ.

Breakdown of Chong-Li and Frank’s fights for reference

First Fight – Vs. – Budiman Prang – 00:39:52:00 

  • Blocks Right High Kick
  • Telegraphs straight right hand – Lands body kick with right leg
  • Submission 
  • What we learned – He can block high hicks, and telegraphs a straight right. He also works nice angles to land a kick

Second Fight – Vs. Mouthguard Guy –  00:43:56:00

  • He catches right hand
  • Knocks him out with one punch
  • What we learned – He sees punches coming, and can catch them

Third Fight – No name guy –  00:44:13:00

  • He right sidekicks a guy out of the ring
  • What we learned – He is cool kicking people off the mat, he doesn’t need to destroy them

Fourth Fight – Vs. Suan Paredes – 00:54:09:00

  • He gets caught with several lefts – This is where things get neat. He makes an adjustment, moves away from the left, telegraphs the right, and lands a left leg kick, on his opponent’s lead leg (smart, if it’s hurt, he can’t plant for punches). The leg is immediately done. 
  • Chong-Li backs away from the left jabs, and once again catches a right and lands a right kick. 
  • He catches a gut punch, and once again kicks his lead leg. 
  • He breaks his leg. 
  • What we learned – He adjusted, took out lead leg, and won

Fifth Fight – Vs. Black Belt who gets taken down easily – 00:55:48:00

  • Blocks a right punch
  • Lands right kick and a right punch
  • Lands a takedown, and punches in back of head 
  • What we learned – He can block punches

Sixth Fight – Vs. Guy with baggy pants –  00:58:00:00

  • Elbow in back
  • Two gut punches
  • Grabs left arm, and knocks him out with a right jump kick
  • What we learned – He can land jumping kicks, and knows to work the body

Seventh Fight – Vs. Ray Jackson  – 01:00:55:00

  • Jackson runs at him and gets kicked in the gut – Right leg – Angles!
  • Backhand – Creative 
  • Right leg – Goes again caught 
  • He underestimated Jackson
  • He gets double-handed punched and clubbed
  • He starts to cheer early
  • He clearly isn’t out
  • Flying right kick
  • Takes out lead leg
  • Right kick to head
  • Kicks leg again
  • He legit tries to kill him via headstomp
  • Taunting happens
  • Dux tries to help him by shaking his neck….
  • What we learned – He clearly underestimated Jackson and got caught with a solid spinning backfist. Before that, he worked nice lateral movement, and later on he went back to his leg kicks against punch heavy opponents. 

Eighth Fight – Chuan Ip Mung – 01:13:05:00

  • He immediately is in a defensive position and backs up
  • Two right land immediately – Blocks left – Grabs right – non reacts to left punches
  • Lands a right
  • Catches a gnarly body blow and leg kick
  • Left Kick 
  • Lands a beautiful front kick
  • BLOCKS Three PUNCHES
  • Lands right
  • Another block and a headbutt
  • Ducks right kick
  • Lands a body blow before a right – Punch hits his shoulder
  • Nut shot
  • Punch hand
  • The ref should’ve stepped in
  • REF and Judges turn back – THEY ARE VERY MAD AT HIM 
  • The ref looks at the judges like “this is bad.”
  • What we learned – He can block and move away from strikes. He also is on the defensive immediately, and avoids several strikes

Frank Dux – I included these fights because Chong-Li scouted them, and would know what Frank is all about. He knows he can lands expert elbows without looking at opponent, mainly throws strikes form his right side, and capitalizes on fighter mistakes.

First Fight – 00:41:002:00 – 12.2 seconds

  • Lands four rights 
  • The guy sneaks up behind him – Dux realizes this (he stops), and lands a perfect right elbow. 

Second Fight – 00:44:07:00

  • Lands four right kicks
  • Finishes him with a left wheel kick

Third Fight – 00:53:45:00

  • Two left kicks
  • Six right kicks

Fourth Fight – 00:55:24:00

  • Dux jumps over a kick – This is important later
  • The guy runs at him and catches a spinning right kick to the back of the head – This is important later
  • Four right hand strokes
  • Right knee knockout

Fifth Fight – 00:56:35:00

  • He immediately lands right kick
  • He does a roll and kicks guy out of ring with a left kick

Sixth Fight – 00:58:18:00

  • Four right kicks
  • One left kick
  • One right hand haymaker
  • One left hand haymaker
  • Three headbutts
  • Right gut punch
  • NUT PUNCH – Bad things happen whenever people run straight at him

Seventh Fight – 01:11:00:00

  • Paco lands a right leg kick and elbow – Almost KO’s him – Weak chin
  • Right leg kick – Take out knee – Smart
  • 15 right kicks
  • one left
3 Comments leave one →
  1. John Leavengood permalink
    November 27, 2021 5:04 pm

    I was honestly very concerned this would strike a nerve for me. After all, I literally included Bloodsport in my FB “what I’m thankful for” post this week. That said, I appreciate and completely agree with ALL of this. I’ve been screaming at my television for years like a drunk Packers fan every time it struck me that Van Damme was winning too easily. I mean, I’m elated for his comeback. But when the Florida Gators come around and beat Alabama, but Alabama hardly even showed for the game like a hungover Varsity Blues team, it’s just not the win it could have been, however epic it actually was. All wonderful points, well-staged and addressed. This felt like the data of a Master’s Thesis!

    • November 28, 2021 7:50 am

      I’m glad you liked it! The idea has been kicking around in my head for months. I didn’t want to release anything sensational, so I dug deep to make it as fact driven as possible. Very happy with the final product. Thanks! Go Packers lol

      • John Leavengood permalink
        November 28, 2021 8:54 am

        Facts or not, you gave it a great narrative of possibilities that was satisfying without cheapening Dux’s win. You might have instead enriched it. Without that, I might have been leading the angry mob of townsfolk with torches and pitchforks to Castle Hofmeyer. lol

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