What Not To Watch: American Kickboxer 1
Sometimes I feel bad about categorizing a movie as “What Not To Watch”, this is not one of those times.
Who releases a movie and calls it American Kickboxer 1? The answer would be the post Golan/Globus split Cannon Films. But seriously, why not just call it American Kickboxer? Why put 1 at the end? First of all it comes off as extremely presumptuous. Like you know this film is so great that fans will be demanding a sequel. Second, it’s not like this was a two picture deal and both 1 and 2 were being filmed back to back, much like Cannon did with the first two Missing in Action films. A sequel eventually was made but that whole story is a mess that I will get into a little later. Right now it is time to build my case as to why this movie is one not to watch…
- Unappealing Characters: Our hero in the movie is BJ Quinn (played by John Barrett). Quinn is a troubled soul, he’s got an alcohol problem, he’s not a very loving man, he’s constantly suspicious of his lady (although in his defense she does come across as a kickboxing groupie, not sure if they are referred to as ring rats or not) and overall he gives off a real douche bag vibe. But that’s ok movie, I’ll just flip the script and cheer for the villain, Jacques Denard (played by Brad Morris). That’s a good idea in theory, but as hard as they try to make Denard come across as “The Bad Boy of Kickboxing” that all crumbles when he is constantly being shown up by a heckling reporter at press conferences.
- Suspension of Disbelief: And speaking of that reporter, this movie wants the audience to believe that there’s a reporter working for a newspaper whose primary assignment is covering kickboxing. Had they made him a reporter for a Kickboxing magazine (Kickboxing Illustrated? Kickboxing Fancy?) I could have believe it, but a newspaper providing that much coverage to the sport of kickboxing seems highly unlikely. Even more unlikely would be the results of kickboxing matches being reported on a radio station’s newsbreak.
- Out of Your Jurisdiction: You’ll quickly learn that you never want to invite Quinn and Denard to the same social gathering, especially if somebody as important as the CEO of Splash Sportswear is attending. Some poor sap tries to stop a Quinn/Denard argument from escalating into a full scale war and Quinn pushes him out of the way. The dude goes crashing through a table and later dies at the hospital. This buys Quinn some legal problems and he ends up being sentenced to a maximum of 1 year in prison AND (this is the part I’m not sure is legal) the judge orders that Quinn can not compete for a kickboxing championship for five years. Can a judge make that kind of ruling? And why is it only championship matches that Quinn can’t compete in? If the judge was concerned Quinn might abuse his kickboxing ability again, what’s the difference if it was a match for a title or not? Somebody could still die!
- The Sequel: So after naming the film American Kickboxer 1, Cannon releases the sequel and calls it To The Death, couldn’t it have been American Kickboxer 2: To The Death? At least they got Michel Qissi to step in and play the Denard character. It is ironic because the entire time I was watching American Kickboxer 1, I was hoping Tong Po would show up and obliterate everyone. Meanwhile, there was a movie called American Kickboxer 2 that starred Dale “Apollo” Cook that has absolutely nothing to do with American Kickboxer 1. So conceivably, the could have simply called their film American Kickboxer (without the 1) and been fine.
If I never see this movie again as long as I live it will be too soon. Usually even in bad movies I can find some sort of redeeming quality, a scene, perhaps a good line or two. That is not the case with American Kickboxer 1. This one is pure “What Not To Watch” material from the word go and until the credits roll.
I didn’t even mention the annoying lady who rents Quinn a cottage or the kickboxing promoter who informs us that his international kickboxing tournament will feature kickboxers from around the world in case we don’t know what international means. Or how about Quinn’s friend Chad Hunter (played by Keith Vitali) who is about as interesting as watching bread become toast.
In fact, I would sooner recommend you watch bread become toast than watch this piece of cinematic garbage.