Director: John Stockwell
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dave Bautista, Alain Moussi, Georges St-Pierre
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In 1989, Jean-Claude Van Damme starred in a movie called Kickboxer, about a man wanting to get revenge on the guy who killed his brother. Now, he’s back in this remake of the film, about a man wanting to get revenge on the guy who killed his brother.
The original won fans for its less-than-brilliant acting and bone-crunching violence – and, sure enough, Kickboxer: Vengeance doesn’t change up the formula.
And so we have Hollywood stunt performer Alan Moussi inheriting the role of Kurt Sloan, a martial artist who heads to Thailand where he must learn the secrets of kickboxing to avenge his brother. It’s hardly Hamlet, but Moussi brings a physicality to the role that earns him a place in front of the camera. In the opposite corner? Dave Bautista as Tong Po, a master of the art who struts around his secret training fortress with the swagger of a guy who’s found fame from a one-two punch of SPECTRE and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Of course, no fight flick is worth its salt without a wise old mentor – enter JCVD as Master Durand, who puts Kurt through his paces until he’s good enough to take on Po. In fact, director John Stockwell puts together his film like one long training montage. Punches land. Kicks fly. Jean-Claude Van Damme tells a joke. Wax on, wax off, repeat.
But while the plotline is far from gripping or surprising, Kickboxer: Vengeance has it where it counts: the kickboxing. The final act plays like a video game, complete with a terrible commentator in between levels, but the action itself is thrilling stuff, with a cast that includes former UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and weapons that include glass, swords and good old bare knuckles. And when it all goes feet Tong, the uncomplicated editing means that you can admire every blow. Will you cry with manly male emotion as blood as spilt and wrongs are made right? Not a chance. But the efficient storytelling means that Kickboxer: Vengeance does everything its title promises. Kickboxing. Vengeance. What more could you want?
Kickboxer: Vengeance is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.
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