If you’re a fan of Lady Bloodfight action movies, there’s a good chance you’ll have seen the work of stuntwoman Amy Johnston in any one of a number of recent superhero movies. Her attempt to make the transition into an action star in her own right with Lady Bloodfight makes it obvious that she was meant for better material.
The film opens on the rooftop of a Hong Kong building where two Asian women are fighting for their lives in a martial-arts competition called the Kumite (pronounced Koo’-muh-tay). When it’s considered a draw, the competitors refuse to share the prize, so they’re ordered to find proxies to train and fight in the next year’s Kumite.
Lady Bloodfight As luck would have it, Johnston’s Amy Jones is an American waitress who has come to Hong Kong to compete in the Kumite, hoping for a payday that would help her widowed mother. When Shu (Muriel Hoffman), one of the earlier fighters, sees Jane fight off some muggers, she offers to train her as her proxy in the Kumite. At the same time, her rival is training a punky Asian girl named Ling (Jenny Wu) and other women fighters from different fields are being gathered from across the globe for the competition.
Written by Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan, there’s something to be said about watching beautiful women fight each other or better yet, kick men’s butts. It’s also obvious no women were involved in the creative process or behind the camera for a movie that’s clearly trying to appeal to them. Despite the attempt to create female bonding moments between the characters, there’s a lot of overly sexist dialogue from every single man in the movie that demeans the women the movie is trying to showcase. Even worse is a women’s locker room scene that’s made more lurid by using music better suited for a strip club.Lady Bloodfight
As an actress, Johnston is slightly better than Ronda Rousey and other female sports figures who have tried to make the transition to acting, and her fight sequences are impressive enough in terms of choreography and editing. Then again, there may be nothing worse than having a martial-arts film about the Caucasian and/or American who comes to Asia to save the day, and that’s the unfortunate role in which Johnston finds herself. Many of the Asian actors are often speaking lines in English, which is clearly their second language, and the characters they play never veer too far from typical martial-arts stereotypes.
Once we get to the actual Kumite, Lady Bloodfight turns into a fairly standard martial-arts competition movie, a cross between The Karate Kidand Mortal Kombat, with women fighting each other using their specific skills. Jane makes friends with a competitor named Cassidy (Jet Tranter), but then the movie doubles down with a last-minute subplot to give Jane even more reason to fight, now out of revenge.
French filmmaker Chris Nahon (Jet Li’s Kiss of the Dragon) does the best he can with this weak material, often going for the most clichéd images we’ve seen in plenty of kung fu films already, including the ubiquitous training montage.
Presumably, martial-arts fans don’t watch these movies for their sterling dialogue or Oscar-caliber acting, and to them the simplistic storytelling won’t matter as long as the fights continue to entertain them. For a movie trying to sell itself off on the violence inherent in its fights, it’s fairly tame, with much of the “blood” in the title, dabbed lightly on the female fighters’ faces by the makeup department.