Kickboxer: Vengeance just about works. It’s a so-so DTV actioner improved greatly by the presence of the mighty Jean Claude Van Damme. A franchise reboot of Van Damme’s breakthrough feature Kickboxer, this doesn’t have the same charm as the original and new star Alain Moussi fails to match the Muscles From Brussels in the charisma stakes. The former stuntman may have the moves, but he can’t carry a movie.
A tale of vengeance…er… Kickboxer: Vengeance sees Moussi’s Kurt Sloane seek retribution against Dave Bautista’s Tong Bo, a bad barneted badass who killed his brother (Darren Shahlavi). Along the way he gets entangled with Gina Carano‘s femme fatale and Sara Malakul Lane’s love interest. Also along for the ride is bulky sidekick Georges St-Pierre, an MMA star who looks like a bizarre amalgam of Channing Tatum and Shrek. That’s something I would never say to his face – or to his fist.
Directed by John Stockwell, this new incarnation of Kickboxer is a little dull. The action fails to hit, the comedy is flat and it doesn’t pack an emotional punch. The highlight is a really terrible fight sequence on some incredibly fake looking elephants, intercut with the real deal. It’s so bad it’s funny – but these things shouldn’t really be happening on a film like this.
Dave Bautista is quickly becoming the action villain du jour, following his work in Skyfall and a selection of low budget actioners. He’s an imposing dude for sure and he could have been a serious bad guy, but his character doesn’t quite cut the mustard. Or the atmosphere for that matter. Meanwhile Van Damme is relegated to the mentor role and while it’s good to see a different (albeit similar) shade to his screen persona, he just isn’t given enough to do. When Jean-Claude is in a movie, I want to see him deliver some serious Van Dammage goddammit! I guess I’m just going to have to get this fix from Amazon’s forthcoming Jean-Claude Van Johnson.