I have several people in my group who contribute often and at least one of them purely loved John Stockwell’s Kickboxer: Vengeance when it released in 2015. And there are definitively a few reasons to, particularly for much of its consistency in action and much of the drama, as well as action star Jean-Claude Van Damme’s continued ability to hold his own on screen as he helped present stunt performer, breakout actor and martial artist Alain Moussi for his debut spotlight in a feature film.
As a martial arts vehicle kickoff, Kickboxer: Vengeance had its worthwhile functions. However, if I’m being totally honest compared to some of my counterparts and maybe other fanboys out there reading this, I frankly felt the film to be a subpar shadow of itself. It spent most of the film touring Thailand while notably aiding Van Damme in sustaining his relevance and forcing a strained revenge tale and love story down our eye-sockets all on the count of launching a fresh reboot from a classic martial arts IP, coupled with the criminality of completely wasting Gina Carano in the process.
I can’t begin to tell you what happened that caused this movie to fail in my perspective… Because I simply do not know. All I know is that Stockwell was nowhere to be found when it came time for the PRs and presses to roll the campaign for the film, and that despite Dave Baustia servicing the role of Tong Po amply enough to be an imposing figure, I fell asleep during the final fight scene and pretty much woke up by the time Alain’s Kurt Sloane was laying waste to the towering villain and so it took me a few more viewings to finally watch it in its entire breadth.
Going forward, the plans to keep this newly-founded franchise going now have producer Bey Logan on board this time around with Dimitri Logothetis at the helm after producing the first film. For this, we now have Kickboxer: Retaliation to look forward to as Moussi reprises his role opposite a new crop of opponents and villains led by none other than Christopher Lambert. Others are returning from the first film as well, including actress Sara Malakul Lane, and of course, Van Damme…because it wouldn’t be a Kickboxer movie without…you know… Van Damme… I guess? ?
Don’t get me wrong, I love me some JCVD too, but with Kickboxer: Retaliation working overtime in the action muscle department bringing aboard the likes of footballer Ronaldinho, former boxing champion-turned-Asian cinema character actor Mike Tyson, Roy Nelson and former Game Of Thrones co-star, Icelandic muscle man/actor Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, it kind of makes me wonder what in substance will be left for the film in its runtime. It’s Moussi’s spotlight and as it stands, Lane, Lambert and Van Damme are the strongest in the drama department. But they, alone, can’t be the ones to carry this sequel while letting the rest of it run on action. Or JCVD for that matter.
So that’s it. There needs to be an actually good movie in all this, and not just a half-cocked, fight-loaded spectacle for martial arts fans who will only skip ahead to the fight scenes after purchasing the DVD or Blu-Ray. That said, while an unfinished trailer leaked a few months ago, Logothetis himself has unveiled an official 30-second teaser to present what otherwise looks to be another action-packed venture for Moussi as a sophomore lead actor. And not for nothing, hopefully; Moussi has some pretty adequate chops to lead a film and he certainly holds his own to an extent on screen. However, it won’t be enough if the film sucks along with its writing, and the only way it does that, I feel, is if no one learned anything from the flaws suffered on Vengeance.
Let’s hope that changes, and for that matter, I hope Logothetis turned out to be a better helmer. Because the last thing I need to be doing is falling asleep during an action movie. Period.
Check out the teaser below.