Bullet Points: Kickboxer: Vengeance
The words “highly anticipated” and “reboot” don’t often go together. More often than not the announcement of a reboot has fans in an uproar and voicing their displeasure instantly on social media before the movie has even gone into production.
But for me Kickboxer: Vengeance was a highly anticipated reboot, a big reason for that is because the producers borrowed a page from The Force Awakens and managed to bring the heart and soul of the original Kickboxer back for this reboot. I am of course talking about the one and the only, Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Another big get for Kickboxer: Vengeance was David Bautista in the role of Tong Po. Bautista has the look, the screen presence and years of experience portraying a bad guy in the ring that make him a quality villain. And the fact that Bautista has been in box office blockbusters like Guardians of the Galaxy and Spectre in recent years brought the profile of Kickboxer: Vengeance up a notch too.
The x-factor in all of this was how effective was Alain Moussi, in his first starring role in a feature film, going to be in the role of Kurt Sloane.
- The Backstory: Eric Sloane (played by the late Darren Shahlavi) is a champion fighter in the United States. Eric is wooed to compete in Thailand by a beautiful but dangerous fight promoter named Marcia (Gina Carano). Marcia offers Eric $400,000 to take on Thailand’s reigning champion, Tong Po (David Bautista) in an underground fight. Eric’s younger brother, trainer and manager Kurt Sloane (Alain Moussi) advises Eric not to take Marcia’s money and not to go to Thailand. But the lure of fortune and glory is stronger than his baby brother’s common sense advice and Eric is off to Thailand. That would end up being the last trip Eric would ever take after he is killed in his fight with Tong Po.
- Here Comes the Vengeance: Kurt Sloane had arrived in Thailand just in time to see his brother’s demise. Kurt hatches a plan for revenge where he infiltrates Tong Po’s Training Camp, posing as a kickboxer wanting to train with the master. When he arrives at the camp we are quickly treated to some kickboxing action between Sloane and Kavi (played by George St-Pierre). This fight happens about 3 minutes into the movie! Talk about not wasting any time. After he is done with Kavi, Kurt then finds himself going up against Storm (played by TJ Storm of Doomsdayer fame). Proving he can hold his own and is worthy of Master Tong Po’s Camp, Kurt is asked to stay and is quickly put on laundry duty with the always drinking Kavi. In the middle of the night, Sloane goes to Tong Po’s room with a gun, ready to kill the man that killed his brother. But Tong Po and his right hand man Crawford (Sam Medina) were waiting for him. The police are called in and Kurt has the option of returning to the United States or go to jail. The police get him a plane ticket and escort him to the airport… but Kurt doesn’t get on board.
- Royal Pain: To say that some of the members of the police force are crooked, would be putting it mildly. But there is one member of the Royal Thai Police that is looking to have Tong Po arrested for the murder of Eric Sloane and looking to take down Marcia’s illegal fighting empire and the corruption in the local government. Her name is Liu and she is played by the beautiful Sara Malakul Lane. Liu becomes an ally of Kurt Sloane, knowing he will testify against Tong Po where others have turned a blind eye. And since this is an action movie, Liu eventually becomes Kurt’s love interest as well. To keep Kurt safe from the corrupt cops and Tong Po’s minions who are after him, she takes him to stay with the man who trained his brother Eric, Master Durand (Jean-Claude Van Damme).
- The Master: Kurt wants Durand to train him and help make things right where his brother is concerned. This leads to two generations of Kickboxers squaring off and if that match up isn’t dramatic enough for you, cue the rain! I want to say this was my favorite fight sequence of the movie, but honestly I’m not sure I can because there are so many quality fight scenes. But this one definitely was a sentimental favorite. After they test one another, Durand agrees to train Kurt. And since this is an action movie, we are treated to some great training montages that include everything from coconuts being thrown at Kurt by some kids to Kurt riding a bicycle underwater. Once Kurt’s training is complete, he knocks right on Tong Po’s door and starts kicking ass until Tong Po agrees to fight him. That’s a man right there folks!
And yes, Alain Moussi is the man! Kickboxer: Vengeance was an action star making performance for Alain Moussi. Moussi has all the tools needed to be the next big action movie hero and I’m all in on any of his future projects.
Then there’s Jean-Claude Van Damme. I said at the top that he was the heart and soul of the original Kickboxer and I could just as easily say that about this movie too. The relationship between Durand and Kurt Sloane was not unlike the Rocky Balboa and Adonis Johnson relationship in Creed. Van Damme passed the torch and put the spotlight where it needed to be, but there’s no denying his star still shines bright.
Kickboxer: Vengeance didn’t just live up to my expectations, it exceeded them ten fold. The next time you and your friends are sitting around waxing nostalgic about how action movies aren’t as good as they used to be, put Kickboxer: Vengeance on and prove yourselves wrong. This movie captured everything that was great about the fighting films of the 80’s and 90’s… the action, the characters, the little bits of comedy and most importantly the fun factor.
Since I’m having so much fun talking about Kickboxer: Vengeance, I think I’ll continue with some bonus Bullet Points…
- If You Ever: ...wanted to see a fight take place on top of elephants, then this is the movie for you.
- Like A Boss: I couldn’t help but think of Bruce Lee getting off the boat at the start of The Big Boss when I saw Kurt Sloane get off the boat at the start of Kickboxer: Vengeance.
- Broken Glass Everywhere: A classic action movie cliche takes place when Durand and Kurt get into a little street fighting action and it just so happens that there are some guys delivering panes of glass. I think you know how things end up for the glass… There’s more broken glass in Round 2 of the Tong Po/Kurt Sloane fight, when both competitors dip their fists in broken glass. CLASSIC!
- Scene Stealer: I thought the Crawford character was a scene stealer with his slick talking, carnival barker style. I also loved that he referenced The Godfather.
- Dancing Tease: When Durand invites Kurt to go out drinking, I couldn’t help but think we were going to see our new Kurt Sloane get jiggy with it the way the first Kurt Sloane did. Unfortunately it didn’t happen… in that scene!
- Cameo: To protect Kurt from suffering the same fate as his brother Eric, Liu has Kurt arrested the day of his fight with Tong Po. While in the jail, Master Durand has a little face to face with an actor making a cameo appearance that made me scream from my couch!