SYNOPSIS: Jean-Claude Van Damme returns for a new chapter in the adrenaline charged Kickboxer legacy. Kurt Sloane (Alain Moussi) has always been there for his brother, Eric (Darren Shahlavi), who’s known in the martial arts world as a modern-day warrior. But when the ruthless and undefeated fighter Tong Po (David Bautista) brutally ends Eric’s life in a no-holds-barred match in Thailand, Kurt devotes himself to training with a master (Van Damme) in a quest for redemption… and revenge. Featuring MMA champions Georges St-Pierre, Gina Carano, Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum, Kickboxer: Vengeance delivers a one-two punch of jaw dropping fights and death defying stunts.
The original 1989 Kickboxer wasn’t much of a movie to speak of except it featured a very young Jean-Claude Van Damme and at that time, some cool martial-arts sequences. Again that was 1989, almost thirty decades earlier.
Van Damme returned in Kickboxer: Vengeance, a reboot of the original except that JCVD is playing the role of a master instead of a rookie and most ridiculous of all, they don’t even bother to update the entire storyline.
Akin to the original, Kurt Sloane (Alain Moussi) is out to avenge his brother after he is mercilessly killed in an underground match but Kurt is no match for his late brother’s powerful opponent, Tong Bo (Dave Batista earning some pocket money before the next Guardians’ mission). Kurt has no choice but to seek the help of a certain Master Durand (JCVD) before returning to fight with Tong Bo.
Kickboxer: Vengeance has all the qualities of a low-budget direct-to-video action flick, from jarring edits to laugh-out-loud props to bad action choreography. Yes you read that right. Bad action choreography for an action, martial-arts movie. That’s almost sacrilegious. To be fair, the movie does have a fair amount of action sets unfortunately none has the energy of say, Tony Jaa or even JCVD in his prime despite the fact they try to replicate a fight on top of two obvious dummy elephants and dozens of other forgettable bloody brawls. There’s also the obligatory training montage, which features numerous coconuts being kicked and smashed, and to make your money worth, even a swordplay is thrown in for the climax fight.
Alain Moussi is a great stuntman, athletic and his moves are definitely much better than his acting. Mixed Martial Artist and actress Gina Carano (Haywire) is totally wasted in a role as a shady fight promoter. With sunglasses and a cool fedora, Jean-Claude Van Damme seems to be enjoying his time on set and he does get a few minutes of screentime doing his kicks while martial-arts fans will recognized the late Darren Shahlavi (Ip Man 2) as Kurt’s short-lived brother, Eric.
Sitting through 90 minutes of it, there’s nothing in Kickboxer: Vengeance that we can recommend actually. Unwatchable is the final verdict. If you have the time or energy left, perhaps seeking out the original Kickboxer might be a better option. The end credits featured a fun segment from the original movie, ironically the best thing in the entire movie.
Picture quality is serviceable and the Dolby Digital 5.1 features loud aggressive sound effects liked punching, internal organs being squashed and ambience effects.
DVD RATING :
Review by Linus Tee