The King of the Kickboxers (1991)

Posted in Reviews by - February 02, 2013
The King of the Kickboxers (1991)

A skewed retelling of the Kickboxer story, Van Damme‘s seminal hit released two years previously. The irony being it was Seasonal Films that first recognised Van Damme’s high-kicking potential in their 1986 film,¬†No Retreat, No Surrender. The same team back this spirited if hammy revenge film, offering Loren Avedon a prime spot for his bolshy American routine and great footwork. He plays renegade New York undercover cop Jake who breaks up drug busts with his sharp kickboxing skills and refuses to call for back-up. He’s assigned (for completely unfathomable reasons) to a case in Bangkok where big-budget snuff movies are luring foreign kickboxers to a sticky end, pulverised by the punishing blows of burly beefcake Kahn (Blanks) who is called upon to cripple opponents for the final reel. The preposterous conceit doesn’t end there, because Kahn just happens to have killed Jake’s brother 10 years ago. His American kickboxing isn’t up to scratch, so Jake descends down the Mekong to meet reclusive master Prang (Cooke) and his pet monkey to undergo a torturous lesson in the ways of Muay Thai. The film works despite its ineptness because of some very strong fight sequences, particularly the final showdown between Avedon and Blanks in a ceremonial bamboo cage, and some convincing chemistry mostly in the unorthodox relationship between master and pupil. The slights against violent movies¬†add a wry irony to the film, but whether that was intentional is unclear.

AKA: Karate Tiger 4; No Retreat, No Surrender 4

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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.

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