June 5, 2017

Movie Review: Kickboxer - Vengeance

Way back in 1989 Jean Claude Van Damme was a rising star. He had already shown audiences his considerable screen presence and charisma in Bloodsport and Cyborg. His followup was Kickboxer, an action revenge flick that saw Van Damme head to Bangkok to avenge the brutal death of his brother at the hands of underground fight champion, Tong Po. That film proved to be a hit a spawned a number of sequels. Now, we are faced with a reboot of the franchise. Why? I could not say. Even stranger is that it was sent the direct to video route and is a decidedly lackluster outing.

Early on it Kickboxer: Vengeance had Hong Kong filmmaker Stephen Fung (House of Fury, Tai Chi Zero) attached to direct and Tony Jaa cast as to play a mentor role, as well as Scott Adkins in a cameo role, they eventually left the project. Still, the cast proved be quite interesting, bringing Jean Claude Van Damme back to the franchise, as well as Dave Bautista (hot off of Guardians of the Galaxy) and Gina Carano (Haywire, Fast and Furious 6, Deadpool). The director’s chair was eventually filled by John Stockwell (Turistas, Into the Blue, Cat Run).

Kickboxer: Vengeance takes the story of the original film and just tweaks it a little bit, it is essentially the same film only devoid of anything really interesting or memorable. French kickboxing champ Alain Moussi stars as Kurt Sloane (the role originated by Van Damme). The movie begins with Kurt going to Thailand to train under Tong Po (Bautista). Once talking his way into the compound his true agenda is revealed. Po wakes to find Kurt holding a gun on him. However, rather than pull the trigger, Po tells Kurt that his brother was a warrior and that he is a coward. This triggers a flashback to where we see the event that led Kurt to Thailand.

What follows is a slow buildup to the climatic showdown between Kurt and Po. The problem with it is that we all know how this plot works. While it is not exactly a remake of Kickboxer, it is not an unknown plot. In cases with lack of plot originality you have to rely on execution. Sadly, execution leaves a lot to be desired. The acting is subpar, the action is uninspired, and frankly, as soon as it is over the details will quickly slip away.

Kickboxer: Vengeance is the start of a new trilogy, one that I am not sure i wish to continue. It is fun seeing Jean Claude Van Damme in a Kickboxer movie again, it really isn’t enough to justify spending any time with it. So, if bland, non-descript action is what you’re looking for, this will fit the bill.

Not Recommended.

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