When i talk about Martial Art films in general, i usually mention the films you should see, because they are classics. And it would be very easy just to mention all the classics with Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, but there is another time period of the past, when a man from Belgium did make his name heard worldwide. Jean-Claude Van Damme was the man on everyone´s lips, who can do the split like no one else, and his round kicks. His first big hit was of course Blood Sport, a Martial Arts film that had really effective fighting scenes, including legendary fighter Bolo Yeung. Van Damme became a Hollywood star, and moved on to a number of big films. But let´s look back on one of his classics, Kickboxer from 1989. I personally feel that this is one of those films, where Van Damme managed to mix drama, with some great fighting scenes. Kickboxer did make an impact, and the film is still today a cult film in all ages, especially withing Van Damme´s fan base. The film did get some sequels, but it was very easy to forget about them. Van Damme was not even in any of them, and without him you did not care. Instead of doing a worthy sequel, Van Damme moved on making his classics Universal Soldier, Hard Target and Timecop instead. After many straight to dvd releases from the early 2000 period, up until in recent years, Van Damme have kept of making action films. Of course with very different results, depending on what you like. I do feel that his latest Universal Soldier films was surprisingly good, so when i heard that they were going to make a completely new Kickboxer film, i was curious. Most of all i was curious to see if the new actor Alain Moussi would have what it takes to take on a new chapter of Kickboxer, without failing completely. The film was named Kickboxer: Vengeance, and it was not a complete waste of time. Jean-Claude Van Damme returned, this time as Alain Moussi´s trainer, and we got to see Dave Bautista in the fighting ring. But the story that tried to combine the cult classic film, did not have enough strong material to pull this off correctly. Instead, we were left with a sequel that at least tried to go in the right direction. I found out online, that Alain Moussi would return for another Kickboxer film again. I was not really excited about the news, because usually more sequels is a bad idea. But the trailer actually looked fun, with some special guests in the cast list. With some doubts still on my mind, i finally got a chance to see Kickboxer: Retaliation. Do we finally have a worthy sequel, or is this even worse than you would expect ?
One year after Kurt Sloan ( Alain Moussi ), have promised himself never to return to Thailand again. However, while gearing up for a MMA title shot, he finds himself arrested and forced to be thrown in prison in Thailand, for a murder. But he could be set free, if he agrees to fight against the beast known as Mongkut ( Hafbór Júliús Björnsson ), while being trained in prison by the dangerous Briggs ( Mike Tyson ). But the journey to the fight, is not as easy as it seems, and Kurt has to try and survive, no matter what happens.
When this film started on a train, with a Tango dance, i started to doubt if this really is a Kickboxer film. Who thought it would be a good idea to do a Tango dance in a Kickboxer film ? Perhaps they wanted to do something different than the classic Disco scene from the 1989 film ? Anyway, an unexpected way to start a film like this with Tango. I was hoping that this sequel would improve some of the details i did not enjoy about Kickboxer: Vengeance. Of course i knew that they will never make a film as good as the original film. But this sequel to Kickboxer: Vengeance does have some more fun moments than last time. The cast including Alain Moussi and Jean-Claude Van Damme ( who both return in this film, legendary Highlander actor Christopher Lambert, and former World Championship Boxer Mike Tyson is also included in the cast. A fun combination i have to say. Especially seeing Mike Tyson fighting again, in Thailand. I never thought i would see that in a Kickboxer film. He even has a fight scene against Van Damme, that you have to see. Christopher Lambert does the typical performance we have seen him do in many B movies, and you can´t expect much more. But that´s ok. Just to see him in here is pretty fun. He also does a sword fight scene against Van Damme ( Highlander influences ? ) Alain Moussi does at least do some better fighting scenes than in the previous film, but he still have problems acting. But in a film like this, it is more about fighting than acting. Jean-Claude Van Damme bring us a performance that we welcome with open arms. He have a screen magic, and you can tell he still knows how to put up a show. The story is nothing you care about, but i have to say this film does feel like a nostalgic trip to VHS video violence of the 80´s and 90´s. This is a film made for the audience of that time period, for those who loved the fighting action films, that made no sense. Kickboxer: Retaliation does not feel like a real sequel to Kickboxer, to be honest ( except for the final fight, there are some Kickboxer influences there ). But it is a more fun sequel than last time, because there is much more fighting scenes included. Director Dimitri Logothetis was the producer of Kickboxer: Vengeance. Now he directs the next chapter, and i have to say i enjoy this sequel, even if it does not feel like Kickboxer. It is a fun tribute to the 80´s and 90´s, with plenty of hard hitting fighting scenes. Unscrew your brain cells, and just see this film for what this is, a fun time for the VHS nerds of the glorious video violence days.