Look, we know as well as anyone that there’s no accounting for taste. While we at The A.V. Club report and examine pop culture in all its complexities, at the end of the day there remains the fundamental fact that art is almost always a subjective experience. That said, it’s inarguably goddamn weird how much Donald Trump loves Bloodsport, the iconically insane Jean-Claude Van Damme martial arts flick from 1988.
This morning, Mel Magazine released an impressively exhaustive oral history of Donald Trump’s love for the peak 80's action film. The piece is a genuinely fascinating read, delving not only into the origins of the Commander-in-Chief’s enjoyment of the cult classic, but how he relates to art, culture, wealth, American Exceptionalism, and just straight-up bullshitting. It also chronicles perhaps his only truly relatable human trait—laughing whenever a dude gets karate punched in the balls.
The entire article is worth reading, particularly how it frames Trump against past occupants of the White House, arguing that, really, loving Bloodsport is one of the least egregious personality traits he’s displayed as President. After all, Woodrow Wilson loved Birth of a Nation, George W. Bush enjoyed the Austin Powers series, and Richard Nixon, uh, really liked Yankee Doodle goddamn Dandy, apparently.
“My memory of Bloodsport is that it appeals to the id, and that’s Trump. Of course, it also appeals to his beating-people-up fantasy,” recalls Mark Singer, who wrote a pivotal profile of Donald for The New Yorker back in 1997, which is exactly the kind of thing you want to hear about the man in charge of the entire American nuclear arsenal.
Of course, there’s also that little addendum of the “true” story of Frank Dux, upon Bloodsport was purportedly based, turned out to be a complete crock of shit. By all accounts the Kumité tournament never existed, Dux never served in any secret Vietnam War missions earning him a Medal of Honor, and his purported trainer, Tiger Tanaka, was just straight-up lifted from a James Bond novel. When challenged, Dux frequently filed lawsuits against those who argued otherwise. Not that egregious examples of profiting from compulsive lying would appeal to the current Leader of the Free World for any particular reason.
“He’s very litigious. He’s never won a lawsuit, but he keeps suing people,” remembers Bloodsport screenwriter, Sheldon Lettich.
Oh, and apparently Putin also likes the movie, because, like Bloodsport, the concept of subtlety has apparently lost all meaning, and every day just feels like another punch in the balls.