Combustible Celluloid
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With: Alain Moussi, Dave Bautista, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sara Malakul Lane, Gina Carano, Darren Shahlavi, Georges St-Pierre, T.J. Storm, Matthew Ziff, Sam Medina, Hawn Tran, Daneya Mayid, Steven Swadling
Written by: Dimitri Logothetis, Jim McGrath
Directed by: John Stockwell
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 90
Date: 09/02/2016

Kickboxer: Vengeance (2016)

1 Star (out of 4)

The Kickening

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The original Kickboxer (1989) might have been cheesy fun, but it also had the star power of Jean-Claude Van Damme. The chronically uninteresting hero of this awful remake can't even get close to him. As the hero, Alain Moussi seems slow and clumsy, though this is perhaps not helped by the clunky direction by John Stockwell. No matter how many training montages the movie has — and there are quite a few — Sloane never seems to get any better.

As Kickboxer: Vengeance begins, Kurt Sloane (Moussi) manages his martial arts-champ brother Eric (Darren Shahlavi). When an offer comes in for Eric to fight an underground match with scary, mountain-sized Tong Po (Dave Bautista), Kurt balks, but Eric goes ahead and is killed in the ring. After a failed attempt to gain vengeance, Kurt finds himself in the presence of his brother's trainer, Master Durand (Jean-Claude Van Damme, who played the Kurt character in the original). There, Kurt must overcome his own ego and fear, but even then, he must still face the fearsome Tong Po — and survive.

When Moussi finally fights Bautista (the beloved Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy), no amount of scriptwriting or choreography can make it look like Moussi is winning -- or able to win -- and when he finally turns the tables, it seems like cheating (Bautista could have, and should have, won). Moreover, a fake, plastic romance with a lady cop (Sara Malakul Lane) feels completely tacked-on. Meanwhile, real-life mixed-martial artist Gina Carano has a role, but does not actually get to fight! Van Damme himself looks a bit sheepish in his role, wearing sunglasses and a Panama hat in nearly every shot.

Best Buy Co, Inc.