26th Feb2018

‘Kickboxer: Retaliation’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Alain Moussi, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Christopher Lambert, Mike Tyson, Sara Malakul Lane, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, Sam Medina, Steven Swadling, Miles Strommen, Jessica Jann | Written by Dimitri Logothetis, Jim McGrath | Directed by Dimitri Logothetis

KICKBOXER_RETALIATION_2D_DVD

One year after the events of Kickboxer: Vengeance, Kurt Sloan has vowed never to return to Thailand. But while he is preparing for an MMA title shot, he is drugged and wakes up in a Thai prison. His captors want him to face a colossus named Mongkut – in return, Sloan will get $2million dollars and his freedom. If he doesn’t fight, his wife will die. So Sloan has no other choice but to undergo his most rigorous training yet, under some very unexpected mentors, in order to take on this dreaded opponent.

Given the affable reception afforded the previous film, a loose remake of the 1989 original, it comes as no surprise that a sequel was in order. This time round Kurt Sloan (Alain Moussi) is no longer fighting for honour and revenge, this time it’s purely to stay alive; and yet it never seems like Sloan is ever in trouble let alone danger, not even when facing certain death. It’s unfortunate, and it’s mainly due to the fact that Alain Moussi seems to be something of a charisma black hole, never quite gelling with his scenes or, more importantly, the audience. In his prime Van Damme may not have spoke great English, may not have been given the best scripts, but his charisma carried a LOT of his films – the faces he made while fighting, the general loveable nature of his performances more than made up for his shortcomings. It says a lot that Van Damme could be the underdog, beaten to a pulp and have the audience rooting for him, whereas Kickboxer: Retaliation literaly kills it main character for a moment and even then audiences will care little!

As I stated in my review of Kickboxer: Vengeance, these new iterations of the series seem to be taking elements from the existing films to craft their stories – this film seems to mine the fourth movie in the original franchise for a LOT of inspiration: in particular the jail plot and the kidnapping of Sloane’s wife. Which means for franchise fans this, like its predecessor, feels like retreading familiar ground. Which  is s shame. There was a real opportunity for a brand new story here – after all Tong Po is dead (unlike in the original series where he seeme to be an unstoppable kickboxing killing machine) and there was no reason for Slaone to ever step foot in Thailand again… But no, the filmmakers find a way to rehash the first film once again – only this time with an even bigger fighter, played by man-mountain Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, and his advocate (and boss), played by Christopher Lambert.

Speaking of fighters, its the combat that makes Kickboxer: Retaliation. From the prison-set training montages and Mike Tyson’s extended cameo, to the final fight and the myriad of “Pele-style” overhead kicks, Alain Moussi definitely has the fight skills to at least make Kurt Sloane a believeable opponent – even if the films story does turn his character into a weakened hero by the end of the film…

Something of a disappointment following Kickboxer: Vengeance, this outing for the Kickboxer franchise succeeds in a least showing of some fantastic martial arts choreography, even if it does feel lesser than those Sasha Mitchell-starring franchise entries that came before it.

Kickboxer: Retaliation is available on digital download and VOD now. The film comes to DVD and Blu-ray on March 5th.

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