Kickboxer: Retaliation (2017)

Director: Dimitri Logothetis
Starring: Alain Moussi, Mike Tyson, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sara Manakul Lane, Christopher Lambert, hafþór júlíus björnsson

“Nothing beats the original” I hear you say. And I usually whole-heartedly agree. However, I’m also a huge believer of ‘never judge a book by it’s cover’ particularly where remakes are concerned. Because as an action film fanatic, I have to tell you, I have found some real gems often overlooked. So if you’re an original Kickboxer (1989) die hard fan and have not yet divulged into the new Kickboxer franchise, I really suggest you give them a go. You won’t be disappointed!
If like me you love a bit of Van Damme, you’ll be glad to know he’s in the new franchise as Kurt Sloane’s trainer, Durand. But in the Kickboxer Retaliation sequel (2017), there’s a twist to his story. A brutal event occurs leaving him one sense short and rendering him disabled. So you ask “can he still train Kurt Sloane”? Damme right he can. And I would say he does an even better job (if that were possible).
This movie brings Kurt Sloane back to the U.S.after killing Tong Po, the man who murdered his brother in Thailand. Sloane, now working as a professional MMA fighter, has decided to leave the traumatic events from Thailand long behind him.
That is, until he is tasered and wakes up in a Thai prison. Because of course, like in any good movie, nothing is ever as simple as it seems.
Sloane is told there are consequences for killing Tong Po. When he defeated Po, he was expected to stay and be the new champion. But as he bailed and returned to the States, everything was left up in the air in Thailand’s underground fighting world. It’s not a surprise then that Sloane is left to fight off an army of inmates during his prison stay, leading us to an awesome prison fight scene.
But have no fear, Alain Moussi is here! Moussi plays Kurt Sloane in this franchise and does a kick-ass job. The fight scenes throughout Kickboxer: Retaliation can only be described as a nail biting experience. Moussi is very smooth on his feet – he finds his footing perfectly- and he’s in top form. He’s particularly proved what an outstanding actor he is, perfecting his leading role and allowing the viewers to feel emotionally involved with the Kurt Sloane character.
But back to the prison fight scene. No doubt Sloane bishes and bashes every prisoner who tries him. We get a nice one track shot where Sloane takes on nineteen inmates basically all at once. But he does fortunately take a bishing and a bashing back by none other than Mike Tyson who plays Briggs. I say fortunately because one would be so lucky to meet a man like Briggs in Sloane’s situation. Sloane gets Briggs to train him to defeat the new underworld champ, Mongkut. Sloane is determined to win when he learns his wife has now been kidnapped by the man running the underground fights. Briggs trains Sloane to have incredible fighting strength but what Durand brings to the training table is a whole new technique. Let’s just say he could teach you to fight a monster with your eyes closed. So together they make a grizzly training team.
So as you can see, this movie never has a dull moment. We are thrown in to the deep end of this action packed pool. It’s an improvement on Vengeance in my opinion with the choreography of fight scenes first of all. But secondly with the confidence of Moussi in his character role – it is of a completely different class. In Vengeance, he seemed a little held back, maybe afraid of the Van Damme sized boots he had to fill? Hmm.. But he’s back in Retaliation and I have to say, he has well and truly filled them boots. (Good on ya, Moussi!)
A small drawback of this movie I would say is the opening scene. The CGI for the train scene was down right terrible. Also it doesn’t captivate an audience – it definitely didn’t have me hooked. But I carried on (I read ahead and knew what I was in for) and boy am I glad I did. But for what this movie lacked in the opening scene, it sure made up for in the finale. There’s an awesome fight scene where Sloane takes on twins in a hall of mirrors (trippy, right?). It’s a bit of a honourable homage to the hall of mirror fight scene in Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon (1973).
In all, this movie is a bad-ass fighting fiesta from start to finish. I’d rate it a 4/5 with the CGI being the main let down. It’s well paced, keeps the audience in suspense (bar that first opening scene *ahem*) and is an awesome watch. I think Moussi did a fantastic job and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for him in the action world. He has been a stunt man and actor’s double in some big budget movies before this such as Suicide Squad (2016) and Pacific Rim (2013) to name a few. So it was good to see him play a leading role and actually getting the credit for his own stunts and martial arts this time. It will be great to see Moussi in more big roles. Perhaps a third installment to this Kickboxer franchise?

Review by Jeff Turner


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