Has anyone watched Bloodsport lately? I caught it on Showtime at around 3 in the morning this weekend and I gotta say, the thing holds up. The story, the directing, the Forest Whitaker-ing …pretty much just 10s across the board, really.
Well, except for Chong Li.
What? Don’t give me that look. Chong Li SUCKS. Both as a mega boss and a fighter, but especially the latter. The only thing more preposterous than Frank Dux’s claims that the Bloodsport is based on real life events that totally happened is the idea that Chong Li could EVER make it to the finals in said fictional recreation of said actual (but probably also fictional) tournament.
Chong Li would have no business competing in the Kumite, because Chong Li wouldn’t be able to hold his own in a cybergoth dance party. He is Frank Dux’s delusion personified; a glorified can crusher that wouldn’t last a round in even the lowest-level dive bar MMA circuit. Hell, Kevin James’ character in Here Comes the Boom would have melted Chong Li inside of five minutes, and any fight fan who’s seen Bloodsport knows this to be true.
Don’t believe me? Let’s go to the tape.
As anyone who has followed the career of Daniel Cormier, Mark Hunt, or really any UFC heavyweight will tell you, a fighter’s worth should never be judged on appearance alone. There is, however, a two-point MUST system that can generally be used to gauge a fighter’s skill level via an ocular pat down: MUscles and STance.
Chong Li’s numbers in those categories are as follows:
Stance: negative eleventy-million
There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance in the fight game, and the hands down, “Come at Me, Bro” stance typically signifies the moment in which it has been crossed. It is the cockiest thing you can do in a fight next to outright dancing, and something which almost always ends in viral humiliation for the person dumb enough to try it. If you don’t believe me, just ask Bethe Correia when she wakes up from that dirt nap she took last weekend.
If you happen to be Anderson Silva between 2006-2012, sure, maybe you could get away with such unchecked arrogance. But Anderson Silva was only able to do what he did for as long as he did because of the otherwordly head movement and foot speed he had developed in the years prior. The man moved like he was fighting from 2 seconds in the future, whereas Chong Li moves like he’s fighting from three weeks ago, underwater, while blindfolded in a room full of bees. There is next to no scenario in which his combination of overconfidence and would not end with him eating canvas and looking like a damn fool.
And that rear-naked choke he slaps on at the end of the fight? Pshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh …
Oh, and let’s not forget about this gem. Fighting down a couple weight classes once again, Chong Li starts off his fight against Chuan Ip Mung by eating a body-head double jab that any first year karate student would have seen coming from the morning bus stop. It seems that Li’s defense in general is less grounded in solid fundamentals than it is an ability to absorb and/or catch punches, which, as Koji Oishi will tell you, is not a sound strategy for achieving victory.
Even worse than Li’s defense is his choice of offense that follows, which involves:
A) a backfist to the ribs
B) A HEADBUTT TO THE BACK, and
C) an absolutely pitiful head-and-arm throw
I know we all had a good laugh when trying to determine which male UFC fighters Ronda Rousey could take in a fight, but based in this footage, I am saying with 100 percent certainty that even the current, ghost-of-her-former-self Ronda Rousey would have trucked Chong Li in a fight. It wouldn’t have even been a contest. Bum rush, harai goshi, done.
In case I haven’t proved my point here, let me present to you the travesty that was Chong Li vs. Ray Jackson, wherein the most feared man in Kumite history gets clipped with a double-handed backfist, then dropped by a double axe handle smash. Against Ogre. From Revenge of the Nerds.
Suffice it to say, this is an unacceptable lapse in judgement which should have destroyed the aura of invicibility surrounding Li right then and there. If Georges St-Pierre vs. Matt Serra is the gold standard by which all upsets are measured, then Chong Li vs. Ray Jackson is the equivalent of GSP vs. Gino, the Long Island delivery boy who has been stuffing Serra with chicken parm sandwiches since the day he retired.
As is the case with all can crushers, it was only a matter of time before Li was exposed at the hands of a truly elite fighter. Since no such fighter exists in the Bloodsport universe, Jean Claude Van Damme’s Frank Dux surrogate was apparently enough to get the job done. Because, and I don’t know if I’ve conveyed this enough yet, Chong Li is a garbage-ass fighter from top to bottom.
Even while throwing the slowest, most telegraphed kicks you will ever see in your life, Dux appears light years ahead of Li from the get-go. It’s never a good sign when your opponent is able to pull a Showtime kick off the referee’s back without you being able to avoid it, and from there it’s mostly downhill for Mr. Li. He is outclassed on every conceivable level by Dux despite the latter’s insistence on striking a pose and kyaaaing for five seconds after every strike he lands, and even manages to get outstruck after blinding Dux with some damn crotch powder (for which he receives absolutely no punishment, way to go ref).
It’s a fittingly pathetic end for a fittingly pathetic fighter. Chong Li, ultimate can crusher, is forced to say “matte” at the hands of a blind man, proving Ken Shamrock’s quote about “half of the game being 90% mental” true once and for all.
In conclusion: Bloodsport is awesome, Chong Li is not.