Kickboxer: Retaliation
dir-scr Dimitri Logothetis
prd Robert Hickman, Dimitri Logothetis
with Alain Moussi, Sara Malakul Lane, Mike Tyson, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Christopher Lambert, Jessica Jann, Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, Sam Medina, Steven Swadling, Miles Strommen, Ronaldinho, Nicolas Van Varenberg
release US 26.Jan.18
18/US 1h51
Kickboxer: Retaliation
Man versus mountain: Moussi and Bjornsson

tyson vandamme lambert
See also:
Kickboxer: Vengeance (2016)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Kickboxer: Retaliation Writer-producer Dimitri Logothetis takes on directing for this sequel, and he clearly has delusions of grandeur, investing the opening sequence with an ambitious stew of handsome hero, femme fatales and blade-wielding henchmen on a train in a mountainous storm. But it's still inexplicable and over-serious, not to mention cheesy and almost comically clunky.

Kurt (Moussi) is now an MMA champ conquering Vegas with his wife Liu (Lane). Then he's accused of murder in Thailand and taken back to face trial. While claiming it was self-defence, he's coerced by the nefarious Moore (Lambert) to face off against specially engineered behemoth Mongkut (Bjornsson) in prison. With no way out, Kurt begins training with the inmates to take on this brute and win his freedom. Along the way, he fights then befriends immovable thug Briggs (Tyson). He also somehow runs into his old master Durand (Van Damme).

The film is shot in a way that only thinks it's stylish, leaving a valiant editor to clean up the mess. The result resembles a cheap variation on the spaghetti Western, with jarring cuts, absurd close-ups and manly emoting. Fight sequences are nicely choreographed, with an offhanded realism that makes them intriguing. When the camera isn't cutting or shifting into so-mo, this looks great. But the film's generally choppy approach undermines most scenes. Including a blue-lit fight versus bikini-clad, sword-fighting babes with neon lipstick.

As before, Moussi looks great on-camera, with plenty of brooding charisma, happy to remain shirtless (which shows off Kurt's magical healing powers). The role plays to his strengths by not requiring much subtlety. He has a terrific throwaway quality in the fight scenes, but struggles with most of his dialog. The only person who feels vaguely realistic is Lane's determined ex-cop. Meanwhile, Tyson has fun as the zenned-out meathead, Lambert chomps scenery as the randomly grinning villain, and you know you're in trouble when Van Damme acts everyone else off the screen.

Almost nothing about this film makes sense, perhaps because it was assembled merely to look cool. But while Logothetis surrounds himself with an adept crew, the way he directs each scene simply never locates the drama or character. Basically, there's little to this film beyond random fights in industrial-style sets, punctuated by nutty conversations and whizzy training montages. But there's a silly edge to the rock-hard masculinity, and it leads to a predictably bonkers epic finale. If only they'd had the nerve to include the line, "Candygram for Monghut!"

cert 15 themes, violence, language 22.Jan.18

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