Here’s a classic, it’s a good ol’ Van Damme film called Kickboxer – made a few years after what his arguably his top film – Bloodsport.
Van Damme is back in usual pretty boy fashion, only this time he enters as a fighter named Kurt,in the shadow of his brother, a US Kickboxing champion named Eric. Eric is a big tough mullet wearing mofo who believes in brute power over the flicky prettiness of Karate.
After his victory in the US, he takes a up a challenge to fight Thailands Muay Thai Champ, an even scarier lookin’ dude named Tong Po, who according to the credits was played by himself, but is in actual fact played by an actor and boxer by the name of Michel Qissi.
So Eric and Tong Po have a fight. Eric is made Tong Po’s little bitch before having his back broken and ending up in a wheelchair. Damn.
Like any smart American fighter, Kurt decides to also fight Tong Po, since you know, the same thing won’t happen to him…surely! Revenge and pride are far more important than simply accepting what has happened.
So Kurt finds some little 0ld guy out in the villages and learns Muay Thai to take on Tong Po.
I love old skool ‘Damme!
This is a perfect example of 80’s Americanized Martial Arts action – especially since it stars Van Damme who carried the martial arts movie torch in the US for some years.
Kurt (Van Damme’s character), goes and learns a new art full of rage but instead meets some people, betters himself and becomes an outstanding fighter who proves himself in one of the local bars whilst drunk – just like most people in English speaking countries 😉
It’s a typical formula of a fighter learning an art from a mysterious master, whilst planning revenge and even going against his previously injured brothers advice – which would have actually been the smarter yet less entertaining thing to do.
Overall it’s a fun movie to watch, especially watching Van Damme train and do his inevitable ‘splits training’ where he shows everyone just how easily he can spread his legs (thinking ‘Epic Splits’ between two trucks right now). It has an easy to watch plot and we even see some pretty impressive acting from JCVD as he cries like a little girl in the hospital.
Van Damme does a great job of going to Thailand, learning Muay Thai and using Karate in his fights…or does he?
I’ve done a bit of Karate in my time and I’ve training in Muay Thai for over 10 years – yet I saw very little resembling the Muay Thai style in Van Damme’s performance with the exception of the odd elbow or knee being thrown.
The action is still pretty nice! Van Damme delivers some impressive movements and crisp, crowd pleasing kicks that keep us watching. One thing I like about him in this movie is his portrayal as being human, even copping a major beating from Tong Po before turning things around – he’s not the invincible hero we’re used to seeing in martial arts films.
An American classic! Not on the same level as the Donnie Yens, Scott Adkins or Tony Jaa’s of today – but an excellent snapshot of late 80’s martial arts action. Check it out!
On Blu Ray –
Region A (US & Canada)
Region B (UK, Australia, New Zealand, Europe etc)
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
Kickboxer  [DVD]
Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)