20 Martial Arts Movie Facts

By: Albert Miller – Well friends, we’re getting ready to close out the year and what a year 2016 has been for Cage Nation TV and combat sports as a whole. It’s times like these that we are best advised to turn to what brought us to the dance so that we can be reminded of what made us love the sport to begin with. In doing this, we are going to be best prepared to embrace what is in store for our future. For me, it’s reminding myself that I love cheesy martial arts action movies. To celebrate that, I am compiling a list of facts about martial arts movies that maybe you’ll love too!

1. In the movie “Best of the Best,” Kane Hodder (yes, Jason Voorhees) plays local bar ruffian “Burt.” In “Best of the Best 2,” Hodder plays a doorman; it’s never explained if the doorman is indeed Burt or not.
2. In the movie “Bloodsport,” the Kumite was a big underground tournament where Frank Dux was going to compete. In Traditional Martial Arts, Kumite simply means “Freestyle Fighting” and is one of the three most important aspects of training (along with Kata and Kihon).
3. In the credits for the movie “Kickboxer,” Tong Po is credited as playing himself. The actor who plays Tong Po is actually Michele Qissi, an actor in the movie “Bloodsport” and childhood friend of Jean Claude Van Damme.
4. Frank Dux, the real Frank Dux that the movie Bloodsport was based off of, actually sued Jean Claude Van Damme and producers of the movie “The Quest.” Dux alleged that he and Van Damme had worked on the story together and that his exclusion from the film was a Hollywood plot against him. A court ruled that Dux was entitled to a “story by” credit.
5. Continuity Error: In the first Best of the Best movie, Tommy Lee (Philip Rhee) is portrayed as being raised by his natural birth parents and having watched his brother die against Dae Han (Simon Rhee); yet, in Best of the Best 2, Tommy Lee is portrayed as being raised by a Native American family.
6. A viral video had gone around of a Capoeira fighter in a street fight against a cage fighter; the video was actually leaked footage of a choreographed fight for the movie “Never Back Down.”
7. Michael Jai White just might be the king of Direct to Video sequels for Martial Arts movies. Such credits include: “Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown,” “Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing,” “Never Back Down: No Surrender,” and “Mortal Kombat: Legacy.”
8. Billy Blanks, the Tae-Bo guy, was the main villain in the movie “King of the Kickboxers.” According to Capcom officials, Blanks’ performance in the movie inspired the Street Fighter II character “DeeJay.”
9. Before making his major motion picture debut in “Bloodsport,” Jean-Claude Van Damme played a Russian villain in the movie “No Retreat, No Surrender.” In the final showdown of the movie, Van Damme’s character would be bested by a fighter trained by …the ghost of Bruce Lee.
10. Up until 2006, the “Kickboxer” series had as many sequels as the Rocky movies; the only difference was that Jean-Claude Van Damme only starred in the first one and the first one was the only one to get a theatrical release. The franchise may be tied again shortly, if you consider the reboots starring Jean-Claude Van Damme that will be released.
11. Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed) wanted to be in the 2006 movie “Rocky Balboa,” but Sylvester Stallone (the writer) didn’t feel it made sense since Creed’s death in Rocky 4. This lead to some tension between Weathers and Stallone in the years that followed.
12. Famous prize fighters in motion pictures: Tommy Morrison (Rocky 5), Bas Rutten (Here Comes the Boom), Randy Couture (The Expendables), Mike Tyson (the Hangover), “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey (the Expendables 3), Evander Holyfield (Grudge Match)
13. The International Fight League (IFL) was partnering with the producers of the movie “Never Back Down”; actor Sean Ferris was on an episode of the IFL’s weekly program, comparing himself to Ryan Schultz, and IFL team stickers are clearly visible on a locker in Djimon Hounsou’s gym
14. Bolo Yeung, who played Chong Li in the movie Bloodsport, also starred as Chang Lee in the movie Bloodfight. What is Bloodfist about? A secret underground tournament held in Asia. The Bloodfight poster on IMDB.com even has the word “Blood” in an identical font as the one used for Bloodsport.
15. In the movie “Kickboxer,” the crowd starts chanting (phonetically) Nok Su Cow or “White Warrior”. According to Google Translate, “White Warrior” is “Nạkrb s̄ī k̄hāw” phonetically and “นักรบสีขาว” in Thai.
16. Brothers Abdel & Michel Qissi have played the big bad guys in quite a few Jean-Claude Van Damme movies. Abdel Qissi played Atilla in “Lionheart”, and Khan in “the Quest”; Michel Qissi played Suan Parades in “Bloodsport,” Tong Po in “Kickboxer,” and Moustafa in “Lionheart.”
17. Michel Qissi will make a cameo appearance in “Kickboxer: Vengeance” as a prisoner.
18. Jean-Claude Van Damme turned down the role of Johnny Cage in “Mortal Kombat” to star as Colonel William F. Guile in “Street Fighter.” The irony is, the Mortal Kombat game was initially developed as a Jean-Claude Van Damme video game, and Johnny Cage was modeled after his portrayal of Frank Dux in “Bloodsport.” Had he taken the role, Jean-Claude Van Damme would have been playing a portrayal of himself, portraying another martial artist.
19. Yvonne De Carlo (the actress who portrayed Lily Munster on “The Munsters) had a role in the 1992 martial arts movie “Desert Kickboxer.”
20. In the movie “The Karate Kid,” Mr. Miyagi is based off of Chojun Miyagi, the founder of Okinawan Karate.

Thanks for joining us for our first installation of Fight Facts! As always, until next time: Fights, Cameron, Action!