Before I begin this review I feel like it’s necessary to explain something. I was first introduced to the “Muscles from Brussels” back in 1995. I was 7 years old. I was sick to my stomach and I stayed home from school begging my mother to order a movie off of pay-per-view. (It’s a thing we had back in the 90’s. if you currently have that confused look on your face, I hate to inform you but Netflix wasn’t always around). Some how I was able to convince her to let me watch a movie about a firefighter who fought off terrorists during a Stanley cup championship hockey game. That movie, of course was “Sudden Death” or as I like to call it, the one where JCVD (Jean Claude Van Damme) fights the Pittsburgh Penguins mascot. After seeing that blatant Die Hard rip-off, I was hooked. I needed more Jean Claude Van Damme. I needed more high kicks and I needed more of a grown man doing the splits in the most imaginative ways possible. ( example:1994’s “Time Cop”, if you’ve seen it than you know what I’m talking about). Eventually, after going through most of his titles at the closest “Blockbuster” or the generically named “Video 1 rental”, my younger self finally stumbled on 1989’s “KickBoxer”. Now i won’t go deep into it because this is a review for a movie that I haven’t even mentioned yet. But, if you haven’t seen the original “KickBoxer”, please do yourself a favor and do so immediately. That’s really all I’m going to say about that. Now why did I begin this review with all that? Simply put, I am a fan.
I grew up watching JCVD movies throughout the 90s. They are far from films that will go down as “classics”when talked about with film historians. But, there are some of us out there that include a few of his titles in the “classic” category of cinema, and “KickBoxer” is one of those titles. With that being said, I was a little reluctant when I found out that a remake or “reimagining” of that movie was being made. I popped the DVD copy of “KickBoxer: Vengeance” into my player and sighed waiting for what would happen next. Not Three minutes into the film and we are already engaged in not one, but two fist fights. It really says a lot about the attention span of the audience this film is being aimed at.
We are introduced to our main character Kurt (Alain Moussi) who has traveled to Thailand to hunt down an seek Vengeance (see where the title comes from??) upon his brothers murderer, Tong Po (David Bautista with some weird dread lock hair extensions). Now this is the same storyline as the original film, nothing there was spoiler territory. In fact it’s all given to you in a flash back within the first 8 minutes of the movie. Basically the plot plays out that Kurt seeks vengeance and requires training by the same guy who trained his brother(JCVD) to help him kill Bautista and his Milli Vanilli haircut.
There is also a side story involving a female police officer who’s trying to shut down the illegal fighting ring that’s happening in Thailand. I think this portion of the movie is pointless and does absolutely nothing for the film. Especially since I’ve seen better acting from a brick wall, but she was in “Sharktopus” and also “Scouts guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” I enjoyed one of those movies, and I’m not telling you which one. The police woman falls in love with our American fighter and we are “treated” (eyes rolling pretty hard right now) to a montage that’s filled with tons of training with JCVD, and tons of Sex, unfortunately without JCVD.
Speaking of Jean Claud, his character spends maybe 35 seconds of this movie not wearing a fedora and sunglasses. It’s insane. Even while battling people in bars or cracking flying coconuts in half, this dude never takes off his fedora or his sunglasses. He may not be the action star that hipsters want, but he is the action star hipsters need.
- 2 fight training montages
- A fight with a ski mask wearing gang on top of CGI elephants.
- Brothers that somehow don’t share the same accents.
- There is a guy who is basically Bruce Buffer introducing the fights who resembles “Shang Tsung” from Mortal Kombat.
- There are subtitles at certain spots that flash on the screen all colorful, like something from VH-1’s Pop Up Video. (Hopefully you remember that tv show and this reference is relevant)
- Glass knuckle sandwiches
- Shot decently well and the movie looks great.
While watching this movie I found out that it was actually directed by John Stockwell. (Who the fuck is John Stockwell?) John Stockwell is a writer/director/actor who played a supporting role in another classic film from the 80’s, John Carpenter’s “Christine”, how cool is that? You know “Christine”, the one about the haunted car?? Man, what an awesome movie that is. Go watch “Christine” seriously, like right now.
“KickBoxer:Vengeance” Truly is a movie made for the Aggressive Affliction shirt wearing dude, sitting at the bar, screaming for a knock out at last months UFC Fight Night. This movie is Filled to the brim with numerous cameos by professional fighters im sure your boyfriend knows by name. Decent fight scenes and sub par acting round this one up to be a real winner. ( If winning is just making someone want to watch the original) They tried to do a few things differently here but it just didn’t work for me. I wasn’t bored when watching it, but with an uninteresting actor playing the lead I was dying to revisit the original.
Anyways I wasn’t to excited about watching “Kickboxer:vengeance” but there is a great end credits scene that will have fans of the old film and JCVD slapping their knees with laughter and smiles (and not just because the movie is over). Will I ever see it again? Probably not, but if I ever get the urge to return to the underground fighting world of Thailand, I’ll glue some glass on my knuckles and grab the original off my shelf. I suggest you do the same.