Bullet Points: Bloodmatch
Bloodmatch is an action kickboxing mystery movie. Now while that may sound like something you have never seen before, I must divulge that it was directed by Albert Pyun which means the acting and budget are on the lower end of the spectrum. When I saw lower end of the spectrum I mean the bottom. While those hindrances do not bother me, I realize certain cinephiles are choosy. If Albert Pyun is not your cup of tea you might want to look elsewhere, but if you enjoy kickboxing, suspense and a twist ending, then give 1991’s Bloodmatch a go.
It looks like you are going to give it a go, which is great news because more people need to find out about the forgotten gem Bloodmatch. The plot to Bloodmatch is very simple and it gives the movie two of its better points, more kickboxing action and a short runtime. Brick Bardo (you Pyun fans will find that character name familiar) is trying to find the person responsible for his brother Wood Wilson’s death after Wilson was killed for uncovering a kickboxing match fixing scheme.
Bardo is played by Thom Mathews, an actor probably more known for horror films, but he has worked for Pyun before (Heatseeker, Nemesis and Kickboxer 4.) Bardo apprehends, tortures and kills Davey (Michel Qissi aka Tong Po aka one half of the Qissi Brothers) for the four names of the ones potentially responsible for Wilson’s death. Brick Bardo and his assistant Max (Marianne Taylor) capture the four and bring them to the Las Vegas Arena in order for Bardo to fight the truth out of them. Let’s take a look at the four suspects.
- Billy Munoz: The incomparable Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez (Wheels on Meals) plays Billy Munoz. Billy is now a janitor but was a great kickboxer who got wrapped up in the fight fix game. Bardo, trying to loose sympathy from the audience, kidnaps Billy’s daughter to get him to come to Vegas. The Jet not only starred in the film, but he was the fight choreographer and it shows off, as the kickboxing legend adds some real authenticity to the movie. The only part that is hard to believe is that Urquidez and Mathews would be a close match.
- Brent Caldwell: Dale Jacoby (No Retreat, No Surrender) plays current kickboxing champion Brent Jacoby. Bardo has his partner Max sleep with Caldwell in order to drug him and bring to Vegas. I don’t think Mathews had to twist her arm for that assignment. She seems to be a woman of loose morals if you know what I mean. What I am trying to say is that she is helping kidnap potentially innocent people with death as a possible outcome so sleeping around can’t be too high on her morality scale. Jacoby has an extensive fight background in real life and film and he uses his skill in the ring with aplomb. The only part that is hard to believe is that Jacoby and Mathews would be a close match.
- Mike Johnson: Thunderwolf (Shootfighter: Fight to the Death) plays Mike Johnson, another kickboxer wrapped up in the death of Bardo’s brother. With a real name like Thunderwolf, the writer must have wanted the most generic forgettable name. If my name was Thunderwolf, I would insist that all my characters would be called Thunderwolf. The audience meets Mike Johnson when he is fighting off four street toughs and is holding his own until Max comes in and takes them out along with drugging and kidnapping Johnson. The only part that is hard to believe is that Thunderwolf and Mathews would be a close match.
- Connie Angel: Playboy Playmate of the Month July 1985 Hope Marie Carlton (Hard Ticket to Hawaii) plays Connie Angel, the best kickboxing promoter and one time fighter who was the only woman ever to beat a man in competition. She gets kidnapped by Bardo after he beats up her boyfriend. Angel had relations (intimate relations) with Wood Wilson and Brent Caldwell. Carlton doesn’t have kickboxing experience that I am aware of, but she has an action movie pedigree including a few Andy Sidaris gems that should be on this site. The only part that is hard to believe is that Carlton and Mathews would be a close match.
The ending provides a twist and some misdirection that I didn’t see coming and it makes Bloodmatch different from all of the other fight movies out there. Not everyone is who they seem to be and everyone seems to be both guilty and innocent at times. I don’t want to spoil the ending so once again I suggest you watch Bloodmatch, but I will provide some bonus Bullet Points…
- Two for the price of none: Albert Pyun directed Kickboxer 2: The Road Back that also came out in 1991. There are many connections with Bloodmatch which makes me think they were filmed either together are right after each other. There are limited sets in Bloodmatch, but the arena looks very similar, if not identical, to the one in Kickboxer 2 (Bren Events Center, Irvine CA.) Michel Qissi, Vincent Klyn, Dale Jacoby were in both films. Benny ‘ The Jet’ Urquidez did fight choreography for both. That efficiency could help explain why Albert Pyun has 52 directing credits in 34 years!
- Four of a kind: Most characters have already been mentioned but the toughs roughing up Johnson include Peter ‘Sugarfoot’ Cunningham (Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight), Patrick Outlaw (Gladiator), Hector Pena (Deathmatch) and Vincent Klyn (Cyborg). These are all names that action movie fans and kickboxing fans may recognize.
- What’s in a name?: Brick Bardo is a character name that has been used in at least eleven Albert Pyun films starting with Radioactive Dreams in 1985 until The Interrogation of Cheryl Cooper in 2014. Special recognition goes to Tim Thomerson (Iron Eagle) for playing Brick Bardo in three different movies.