Kickboxer: Vengeance (2016)

Posted in Reviews by - October 22, 2016
Kickboxer: Vengeance (2016)

After 27 years, a well-oiled and muscular cast take another run-up at the Kickboxer story. This reboot/remake never quite gets off the ground, due mostly to a confluence of unrealised subplots, a woeful script and some questionable performances. French-Canadian stuntman and walking jawline Alain Moussi spends the film in an expressionless, half-naked bubble as the supposedly bereft and vengeful Kurt Sloane, whose brother (played by the late Darren Shahlavi in his final film role) is murdered in the ring by the silent and deadly Muay Thai champ Tong Po (Dave Bautista, looking extraordinary). Moussi unfortunately struggles to add emotional heft to his actions, whether he’s shacking up with a Thai policewoman or kicking the crap out of a gang-load of Thai crooks. The original film was hardly a masterpiece, but at least it had a spirited central performance from a young Jean-Claude Van Damme. Now aged 55, Van Damme takes on the wizened old master role, embodied previously by the great Hong Kong actor Dennis Chan. The master-pupil relationship here is not as well defined as it was in the original film, and both Moussi and Van Damme are positioned more like buddies embroiled in a wider investigation to take down Tong Po and his criminal entourage (although it is never quite clear as to what Tong Po has been up to). The film’s reliance on top UFC fighters does little to help in the drama department, although the dialogue they are given certainly doesn’t help. And you know you’re in trouble when someone as terrific as Gina Carano is cast in a completely sidelined supporting role and never once called to action. There are direct references to the first film – Moussi is made to kick down trees and smash coconuts, and we get the broken glass bit during the end bout, which was so wonderfully spoofed in Hot Shots! Part Deux – but without any believable connections, these scenes appear like hollow imitations. Van Damme’s famous dance sequence also gets its own place during the end credits, but it’s an afterthought, which just about sums up this remake’s lack of character. It’s not a total disaster, but with such a strong cast you would be right to expect better.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

1 Comment

  • Great film. Sadly missing mylee. 2 girls this time though. Gina Carano and Alain.James st pierre and the other dude are cool. Bautista is like drax the destroyer. the old tong po got old as an actor. so did bolo yeung an van damme. Van damme isnt xian chow, hes durando. Van Damme gets the spotlight for awhile. good coconut breaking. With swords and gummi worms for weapons. love the fights. van damme insisted on more elbow. I like the original just as much. this fighting is tied with bruce lee. Gina Carano needs to be on the same list with deadpool. Kickboxer 1 needs to be on the same list also. enter the dragon and return of the dragon and the big boss are also supposed to be on the same list. Samurai Shodown the motion picture is like this movie and should be on the same list. I love mylee.

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