Reviews, REVIEWS: Action & Thrillers — December 25, 2017 at 11:22 pm

REVIEW: Kickboxer: Retaliation (2018)

kickboxer-retaliation

By Tim Tal

“Kickboxer: Vengeance” ended just like everyone thought it would. Kurt Sloane defeated Tong Po, killed him, avenged his brother’s death, and that was it.

18 months later, “Kickboxer: Retaliation” begins. Sloane is framed, and thrown into prison under a lame excuse that he committed a murder, by killing Tong Po. This, of course, is just to lure Kurt into the hands of Thomas More (Christopher Lambert), who offers him another “fight to the death”, and a million dollars.

This time, Kurt will have to fight Mongkut (Hafthor Bjornsson) – a 6’10 menacing bio-engineered giant. If you thought Tong Po was scary, wait till you see Mongkut.

Kurt, of course, denies to fight, but is quickly “persuaded”, after his wife is kidnapped and nearly killed.

“Kickboxer: Retaliation” follows a standard formula here, where Kurt needs his “mentor” aka Master Durand (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and a newly found friend Briggs (Mike Tyson) to help him get prepared for the fight.

Let’s get one thing straight – “Kickboxer: Retaliation” just works for one simple reason: you get exactly what you expect to see:

– The film is 1 hour 50 minutes long, and there are a lot of fights (watch out for the prison fight scene).

– You expect Tyson to fight in the film – and you get to see it.

– You get Van Damme as well, with some of his trademark kicks.

– You get a very long (about 25 minutes), brutal final fight scene between Alain Mouissi and Hafthor Bjornsson.

– Hell, you even get to see Van Damme fight Tyson and Christopher Lambert!

The characters behave exactly as they’re supposed to behave. “Treats”, aside from Tyson, include Van Damme’s son (Nicolas Van Varenberg) and soccer player Ronaldinho, along with fighters Wanderlei Silva, Renzo Gracie, Roy Nelson, Rico Verhoeven. Iceland’s strongman Hafthor Bjornsson, known for his role in “Game of Thrones” is in a league of his own. Easily one of the deadliest, meanest fight villains we’ve seen in recent years.

Christopher Lambert is great as the crazy fight promoter, and every time he says “fight to the death”, you almost expect him to say “Mortal Kombat” next. Van Damme’s character is hilarious in his own right. While he’s supposed to train Kurt and motivate him, this is the dialogue they have prior to training:

Durand: He will kill you in a second. Death has its benefits. You will save a lots of expenses.

Kurt: I killed Tong Po!

Durand: Mongkut is 4-times Tong Po, Kurt!

Interesting fact: In Bloodsport (1988) Van Damme reveals the main villain’s weak spot, then gets blinded by him, and eventually defeats him. In Kickboxer: Retaliation (2018), Van Damme is blind first, then he finds the main villain’s weak spot, and helps his protege defeat him.

As for the flaws, the editing and jumping between the scenes in “Kickboxer: Retaliation” at times look sloppy, as if the film was cut in a hurry. The good thing is – it only applies to non-fighting scenes.

Overall, the film surpasses “Kickboxer: Vengeance” in almost every aspect and is worth a watch to every martial arts fan out there.

BZFILM SCALE: 8/10

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