This ‘Kickboxer: Retaliation’ movie review is very similar to the flick itself – you may receive a brain damage after finishing it.
Ok, that was a joke. Smile, because both the review and the movie are worth checking out.
In the following paragraphs, I will do my best to (seriously) describe my genuine impressions with the highly anticipated installment in the popular ‘Kickboxer’ franchise that skyrocketed Van Damme’s career.
Let’s begin with some informative notes regarding the films because sometimes it gets confusing to deal with so many reboots and sequels.
It all started thirty years ago when in 1989 the first movie of the series aired.
‘Kickboxer’ starred the young martial arts sensation Jean-Claude Van Damme in the leading role of Kurt Sloan – a kickboxer who enters a fighting contest in order to avenge his brother’s death.
This first flick is considered the best movie of the entire franchise, holding also the highest rating on IMDB – 6.4 out of 10 based on more than 40 000 votes.
After that, a total of six consecutive installments appeared, all revolving around the fighting exploits of Kurt Sloan and his brothers David and Eric.
The seventh flick is also on its way and it is entitled ‘Kickboxer: Armageddon’.
Sasha Mitchell portrayed David Sloan in three of the movies – ‘Kickboxer 2: The Road Back’ (1991), ‘Kickboxer 3: The Art of War’ (1992) and ‘Kickboxer 4: The Aggressor” (1994).
In ‘Redemption: Kickboxer 5’ (1995) Marc Dacascos portrayed Matt Reeves – a kickboxing champion avenging the death of David Sloan.
The sixth flick in the series ‘Kickboxer: Vengeance’ aired in 2016 and it was a reboot of the original movie.
By the way, do you know what a reboot is? Think twice before you answer.
The trendy term reboot tends to confuse many folks who believe that a reboot is equal to a remake but this is not exactly the case.
While a remake usually follows the exact same plot as the original, a reboot could be different in terms of characters, timeline, and storytelling but it stills recreates the main conception of a certain movie.
So better think of a reboot as a sort of imaginative modernization of a given flick.
In the case of ‘Kickboxer’, the sixth installment ‘Kickboxer: Vengence’ was a reboot because Jean-Claude Van Damme didn’t play the role of Kurt Sloane (the role went to Alain Moussi) but of his mentor Master Durand.
Enough with the clarifications. Without a further ado, let’s go to…
‘Kickboxer: Retaliation’ takes place one year after the events of the previous flick.
After the tragic death of his brother Eric, Kurt Sloan has sworn to never fight in Thailand again.
However while preparing for an MMA contest he is unexpectedly attacked, sedated and brought to Thailand by thugs working for a ruthless fight promoter named Thomas Moore who wants Kurt to fight Mongkut – a superior human specimen with a monstrous physique.
For that Sloan will receive not only his freedom but also $2 000 000 in a cash.
When he refuses to obey he is put in a Thai prison where he faces violent harassment by the inmates and the guards.
When Thomas Moore threatens to kill his girlfriend Kurt finds himself with no choice but to accept the challenge and fight against the 400 pound, 6’8” local champion Mongkut, thus putting his own life on the line.
Cast and Crew
Directed and written by the award-winning actor and director with a martial arts background Dimitri Logothetis, ‘Kickboxer: Retaliation’ has an impressive cast mostly comprised of black belt holders and ninjas.
The stuntman Alain Moussi reprises his first leading role of Kurt Sloan and Jean-Claude Van Damme returns as Master Durand who trains Kurt for the seemingly impossible fighting challenge.
The ‘highlander’ Christophe Lambert plays the villain Thomas Moore and Hafþór Júlíus “Thor” Björnsson, a.k.a. ‘The Mountain’ from ‘Game of Thrones’ easily enters in the character of the beast Mongkut.
The successful Thai model and actress Sara Malakul Lane looks beautiful on the screen as Kurt’s girlfriend Liu.
The MMA stars Wanderlei Silva, Rico Verhoeven, Frank Edgar, Renzo Gracie, and Renato Sobral also have small cameos.
Probably the most shocking cameo is the appearance of the Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldinho Gaucho who trains the speed of Kurt Sloan in the prison by shooting balls at him. Crazy, huh?!
In a recent interview, the creators of the movie explained that they wanted to take advantage of the huge popularity of the soccer icon in order to better market the flick.
With more than 60 000 000 followers on social media, Ronaldinho is one hell of a marketing gem.
The Positives of ‘Kickboxer: Retaliation’
To be honest, this flick exceeded my expectations and be sure that it surpasses its predecessor in many aspects.
I was prepared for a generic martial arts actioner destined only for fighting maniacs and cult Van Damme fans but what I received was an above-averaged reboot of a loved classic that included some truly well-choreographed martial arts sequences and an intriguing, yet naïve storytelling.
Sure enough, you can’t judge an action movie by the quality of the acting but Alain Moussi, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Christophe Lambert look pretty convincing on the screen in their respective roles.
Moussi showcases some exhilarating martial arts prowess and that is the main quality that is needed from him.
Having an experience as a stuntman and being a highly skilled martial artist, Moussi delivers a powerful action performance stepping in the shoes of Van Damme as the kickboxer Kurt Sloane who needs to totally reinvent himself in order to go through some nasty challenges.
Nobody could possibly outrank Van Damme as the best choice for this character (except for Scott Adkins maybe) but Alain Moussi should receive applause for his work on this one.
The action kicks off from the very beginning of the movie when Kurt has to fight several highly-skilled opponents on the premises of a fast speed train.
I found these scenes very intense and spectacular to watch.
The tension continuously builds up and soon Moussi founds himself in a Thai prison fighting for his life.
There are several very nice mass fight scenes in the penitentiary in which Kurt Sloane has to overcome multiple inmates who dare to confront him and the resulting outcome is a brutal pleasure for the eyes.
The stunt coordination is very well-done and looks surprisingly realistic for the dimensions of such a movie.
The aging Jean-Claude Van Damme as the blind Master Durand shows that at 57 he still got the moves and masters the roundhouse kick, even though his screen presence is slightly more limited as compared to ‘Kickboxer: Vengeance’.
Van Damme looks cool as the wise and enlightened fight master who is always ready to take a punch or two for his protégé Kurt Sloan.
He even got some fun lines and he does his job with a candid enthusiasm.
Mike Tyson also surprised me with the way he presented his character, Briggs.
Having already a few flicks behind his back, the controversial former heavyweight champion amazes with the ease with which he plays a badass prisoner who knows a thing or two about the boxing techniques.
His fighting scene with Alain Moussi is quite entertaining and intense and I’m sure that his huge fan base would love to see him in action.
The veteran Christophe Lambert is a good choice as the greedy underground fight promoter Thomas Moor who also showcases some sword fighting tricks.
This foe looks just like a beast, all bulked up and ready to smash everybody and everything that stands before him.
It is really rare to see a guy with such an imposing physique playing a fighter in a movie which makes it all very interesting.
This is the place to mention that the final fight is superbly directed and choreographed and presents more than a satisfactory ending to the movie.
So be prepared for a truly fierce battle between Kurt Sloan and Mongkut that continues for more than half an hour and delivers top-notch martial arts chills.
The Negatives of ‘Kickboxer: Retaliation’
Well, I can write a lot of stuff here related to the bad acting, the poor dialogue, and the generic, predictable plot.
It’s just that I don’t see the point to write about things that are more than obvious.
Nobody with a horse sense would expect an Oscar-worthy piece of work or a great addition to the seventh art.
The only thing that frustrated me was the excessive use of slow motion, especially at the beginning of the movie.
In the end, I really hope that you will like equally this ‘Kickboxer: Retaliation’ movie review and the flick itself. 🙂
Following the same formula, ‘Kickboxer: Retaliation’ manages to be better than ‘Kickboxer Vengeance’ (2016).
It succeeds in paying homage to the classic from 1989 and be sure that it is freaking entertaining to watch.
What really works out for the actioner is the impressive cast, the breathtaking martial arts choreography (far better than the original), the witty characters of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Mike Tyson and the nifty ending.
No matter if you are a fan of the Kickboxer franchise or not, you will have a hell of a fun with this one.
official website: http://www.kickboxerretaliation.com/
official facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KickboxerRetaliationOfficial/
Alain Moussi or Jean-Claude Van Damme? Who is better as Kurt Sloan? Leave a comment below and share your impressions with the flick.