Kickboxer: Vengeance online movie review - Kickboxer: Vengeance is a mess
Eric Sloane (Darren Shahlavi) is the kickboxer champion in the world and he travels to Thailand to fight against Tong Po, a vicious kickboxer and evil cult-leader of a martial arts gang.
Eric dies in the fight and it is up to his brother Kurt Sloane (Alain Moussi) to avenge him. Master Durand (Van Damme) aids Kurt in preparing for his final battle. Will he win?
I must have been 7 or 8 years old when I first saw Van Damme's Kickboxer. I borrowed a VHS type from one of my classmates, and watched it in the early morning when my parents were asleep. They didn't allow me to watch a movie like this, but the movie was and still is great. Jean-Claude Van Damme at the prime of his life, exotic Thailand, one hell of a villain, endless training sequences, great music from Hertzog, 80ies cheesiness, master Xian and his tomfoolery, the crazy end-battle where two muscled guys fight with glass-covered hands, Van Damme with his split kicks, great locations, spiritual meaning of fights, ancient traditions. Everyone even remotely interested in martial arts, knows the movie Kickboxer. And even more than another classic Bloodsport, I truly enjoyed this movie. Even up until today. This movie had a certain energy, which makes us forget that we are watching a b-movie with a zero story line. No, the critics hated the original Kickboxer, but for us 1980s boys, this was our movie and it made us hooked to Van Damme instantly. This movie inspired many of us. Ask any MMA fighter in the West, and they love this movie. Hence, I even think that Bloodsport and Kickboxer ignited the whole MMA rage. Because of Kickboxer and Bloodsport, I got a black belt in Karate, I have made my own movies as a kid, and I already live 9 years in Asia (in Hong Kong mostly). These movies were life-changing, and its safe to say that it was for many many people. Including actors in this new Kickboxer movie.
Why am I saying all of this, while I am reviewing Kickboxer: Vengeance? As this movie makes me realize that the old times are no more. This formula simply doesn't work anymore, and this movie showcases that. I have waited for two years to see this movie, and I had to say, I was excited. Bautista as Tong Po, Alain Moussi being a real martial artist for a change (and not a Matt Damon or Keanu Reeves), a comeback for Jean-Claude Van Damme, and many other renowned martial artists, including a cameo from the original Tong Po himself, Michel Qissi, all playing in a movie, taking place in Thailand. Yes, they really had to be stupid to mess up this movie. But, oh boy, they did.
First, I am well aware of the production problems which were going on at the time of making this movie. Directors came and went, actors initially connected to the project left, and Kickboxer: Vengeance seemed never to come. But then the teaser appeared and later on the trailer, and to be honest it looked great. The movie however was not.
The good: Let's start with the positive aspects of the movie: - The makers did include some funny Kickboxer references, and in all honesty, they seemed pretty faithful to the original. - Fight choreography was OK sometimes. - Bautista as Tong Po was as menacing as Michel Qissi. What a great villain. Wish he had more screen-time, wish the movie was centered on him. - Van Damme clearly had a good time in playing in this movie, and it shows. He still has the moves as well. Good for you, Mr. Van Damme. But he never took off his sun- glasses in the entire movie.
The bad: Almost everything else. The editing of the movie was terrible. It didn't make any sense. Scenes would suddenly pop-up and disappear, there was no consistency. But the biggest problem was Alain Moussi. Yes, he has the moves and looks, and pretty good ones as well. But he has the same charisma as a bag of potatoes. He wasn't even trying. Georges St-Pierre was pretty bad too. His character was totally forgettable. Darren Shahlavi had almost no screen time. There was no bonding between Kurt and Eric Sloane. When Eric died we didn't see any emotions. We all remember Van Damme crying like a little sissy when his brother was injured in the original, and while his acting was terrible, it seemed pretty legit in the Van Damme Universe. In this movie, you really didn't care about neither Kurt nor Eric.
The training scenes were unimaginative, and pretty dull. Soundtrack was bland. Some fight-scenes were really terrible. End fight did not have an impact on me. Fight choreography was outdated, with movies like the Raid, and even the Undisputed series, you simply can't afford 80ies-esque fight-choreography anymore. Even though there were some hints of Tony Yaa's moves here (including a chase scene which resembled a poor man's version of Ong Bak), and the elbows on the head moves (because in all honesty, the original Kickboxer did not show any real Muay Thai), the fight choreography was pretty bland. No "auw" and "ahw" moments in this movie.
And who the hell thought it was a good idea to dub Mr. Van Damme in some of his scenes? Dear Lord, you know that Van Damme fanboys will be seeing this movie right? Why dub the man with some strange wanna-be French accent? I was really insulted.Gina Carano, a real life MMA fighter, did not have any fight-scenes as well.
I would recommend everyone who enjoyed Kickboxer, to re-watch Kickboxer again. But hey, who am I kidding? You will most certainly watch this movie, and I can't blame you if you do.