Review: Van Damme returns in ‘Kickboxer: Vengeance’
It’s a “Kickboxer” film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, and yes, it’s still 2016
Say, hypothetically, you were going to sit down and watch a movie called “Kickboxer: Vengeance.” What would you want out of that movie?
If you answered “kickboxing,” “training montages” and “Jean-Claude Van Damme,” well, you’re in luck. (Bonus if you also answered “Dave Bautista in some sort of a dreadlock wig.”)
“Kickboxer: Vengeance” follows a fighter named Kurt Sloane (Alain Moussi) who travels to Thailand to avenge the death of his brother, who was killed in an underground kickboxing ring at the hands (feet?) of Tong Po (“Guardians of the Galaxy’s” hulking Bautista).
Kurt knows a thing or two about kickboxing, but comes under the tutelage of Master Durand (Van Damme), who teaches him even more things (though he scoffs at Kurt’s splits, which are so Van Damme circa 1988).
Van Damme, now 55, is still playful and charismatic, and gets to show his stuff off better than he does in the “Expendables” films.
“Kickboxer: Vengeance” isn’t going to raise anyone’s SAT score, but it’s passable in the realms of kickboxing cinema and will hold your attention during late-night cable viewing.
In a universe-bending disruption of the time-space continuum, “Kickboxer: Vengeance” is nearly a note-for-note remake of 1989’s “Kickboxer,” which starred Van Damme in the Kurt Sloane role (and whose villain was also named Tong Po). How Van Damme fits into this alternate reality, where he is essentially training his past self, is better left for future scholars to determine. For now, sit back and enjoy the kicks.
Not rated: Violence, sexual situations, nudity
Running time: 90 minutes