Written by / 3/21/2012 / No comments / , , ,

JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME IN KICKBOXER

year: 1989 rating: ***
Don’t listen to what anyone says: Jean-Claude Van Damme is a pretty good actor. Pretending to be the naive younger brother of a far superior kick boxing champ, the action hero, known for his abundant ego, plays humble to the max. His big bro (Dennis Alexio) is crippled in a seedy backroom bout in Muay Tai by villainous rival “Tong Po,” a mohawked villain who plays tribal music as he circles his prey.

Van Damme, aided by an African American Vietnam Vet, seeks training from a wise old sage and, like KUNG FU before and KILL BILL 2 after, the revenge-driven student goes through a torturous training session at a rural outpost, learning a method of kickboxing that you can’t get anywhere else.

Nature's Dojo
This takes up most of the film, including terrific montage scenes as Van Damme gains strength, agile, and wisdom. And when the local mob moves in, the student proves his worth to protect a local love-interest.

The exterior locations are beautiful and the fight scenes occur sporadically enough to appease hardcore action fans. There’s a significant story-arc as Van Damme morphs from lamb to lion, and it’s not easy. Especially after the bad guys kidnap his wheelchair-bound brother and Van Damme must survive the final match with Tong Po, while the side characters, never resorted to filler status, need to pull off a last minute rescue for our hero to turn the tables in the ring – to win the match and to save his life.
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