Starring: Alain Moussi, Dave Bautista, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sara Malakul Lane, Darren Shahlavi, Gina Carano, Georges St-Pierre, T.J. Storm, Cain Velasquez, Fabricio Werdum, Sam Medina, Luke Hawx, Michel Qissi
Director: John Stockwell
2016 | 90 Minutes | Rated R
“Your brother was brave, your brother was a warrior, unlike you.” – Tong Po
After his brother Eric (Darren Shahlavi) is killed by the ruthless Muay Thai fighter Tong Po (Dave Bautista), Kurt Sloane (Alain Moussi) vows vengeance and trains for his eventual showdown with the monster.
I first want to say that it would have been an easy choice to throw Scott Adkins into the starring role. As much as I love Scott Adkins, I’m glad the producers went with a fresher face. Alain Moussi does a really great job for someone who has never really had a big starring role like this before. In 100% honesty, his acting does still need some work but he feels like he is close. I hope he is able to stick around the action movie scene for a while. We all know how badly the genre needs some new heroes.
It’s also great to see Jean-Claude Van Damme in the role of Kurt Sloane’s Muay Thai trainer Durand. It’s a perfect way for the action great to pass the torch to Alain Moussi.
As for the rest of the cast… Dave Bautista’s Tong Po doesn’t say much but he is SUPER intimidating. Bautista was an awesome choice for the part. It was also fun to see so many legit MMA / UFC fighters make an appearance. Georges St-Pierre gets the most screen time of the bunch as an opponent and eventual training partner of Kurt Sloane. Both Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum are fairly brief opponents. Gina Carano is essentially wasted in her role. She doesn’t throw a single punch the entire movie.
Due to the untimely death of Darren Shahlavi, Kickboxer: Vengeance will be the last time we get to see him in action. He was a real talent and will most certainly be missed by the action fan community.
The movie on the whole is not a scene-by-scene remake but it hits a lot of the major beats of the original. It does away with a fair amount of the cheese from the original to give this one a feel all its own.
The fights are really solid displays of what movie martial arts should be… grounded in realism but flashy enough to be even more exciting that watching MMA or kickboxing in real life. The fights in Kickboxer: Vegeance are inspired by Muay Thai fighting, meaning they use knees and elbows and a Muay Thai clinch but Alain Moussi throws in plenty of crazy spinning kicks that would never ever happen in a real fight. And the final fight is a really good payoff
I have no clue what the budget was for Kickboxer: Vengeance but director John Stockwell squeezes every penny out of it. It looks REALLY polished for a DTV actioner. And it’s quite beautifully shot, which can be a rarity in the genre.
There are at least two sequels currently in the works. I, for one, am looking forward to what’s next in this new (kinda sorta) action franchise. I hope it can make Alain Moussi a new face in the action genre for years to come.