DVD Movie Review: Kickboxer: Retaliation

By Thom Compton 14.03.2018

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Kickboxer: Retaliation (UK Rating: 15)

Kurt Sloane is a name that stinks of action hero. Like John McClain or Kent Hero, it's obvious just from hearing his name that Kurt Sloane (played by Alain Moussi - Kickboxer: Vengeance; stunt performer in Suicide Squad, Warcraft, X-Men: Apocalypse) is one bad mother… so, when he ends up kidnapped and in a prison near Bangkok, it can only be for the sake of witnessing his bad mothering up close and personal. A sequel to Kickboxer: Vengeance, Retaliation sees Sloane at the hands of a wealthy man who fancies himself a Roman Emperor. Now, fight for his amusement!

Along the way, many things happen that, as you might expect, aren't particularly unexpected. Kurt meets some allies in the form of Iron Mike Tyson and a blind master who appears to have the super human ability to anticipate things that are about to happen… or, as he so wisely puts it, "You have to feel the air move before it moves." Yeah, the dialogue can get pretty corny, but really, is that surprising? There's going to be plenty of flicking fingers and saying "Come get me" littered in the film's 110 minute run time, and it never manages to detract from the fun. Even the most eye rolling lines feel at home here, and it feels pedantic to worry about them otherwise.

Thing is, even as it comes off as the kind of film that just makes you want to feel good about everything, it knows how to pace itself. Sloane finds himself against a monster of a man, played by Game of Thrones' Hafbor Bjornsson. The film never concedes to Sloane being able to effortlessly take him down, either, as every time they meet, Kurt seems to find himself on the wrong end of a beating. However, to paraphrase Mark Hamill's Joker, if it's a whoopin' he's a wantin', he's going to find one in this behemoth of a man. His handler, Christopher Lambert, plays a snarling, conniving, but ultimately charming businessman, ready to unleash his pet project on anyone unfortunate enough to have taken a taekwondo class at their local recreational centre.

The film is expertly shot and even when Sloane is finding himself being bounced off the pavement, like a red ball during four square, it's all really fun to watch. When he's running through disposable enemies like a John Deer on a weed field, the camera is just as much the star. It effortlessly dances around him like a ballerina while he throat checks yet another "Bad Guy #4" and "Courtyard Bad Guy #6" …and the music… whoa! The music is absolutely superb and so well picked that it feels like the producers need to be employed on more mainstream films, just to show them how it should be done.

There are some spots that hinder things a little bit. For all the grittiness of the fight scenes, Sloane and friends seem to have some super-human abilities, even outside of the previously mentioned anticipation skill. While it's all cool watching him as he seemingly runs across the air after jumping off a bike, it breaks the otherwise perfect flow of the scene it's included in. Also, there are a few times when the fighting can get a bit repetitive, and Sloane will use the same move that just yielded no results, but since he needs to appear to have gotten better in what amounts to just a few moments, it suddenly works.

Also, the final fight drags on a bit too long. The sense of David and Goliath is definitely there, and there's a whole progression that takes place, quite well it should be added, throughout the fight. Still, there are a few moments that feel superfluous, like the runtime needed to be padded just a little bit. Equally frustrating, but fortunately only encompassing a few moments of the film, is a segment of green screen that is just plain awful. It's not a deal breaker, but it's bad enough that despite being visible for less than a minute, it's worth mentioning.

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
Kickboxer: Retaliation isn't an Oscar-worthy period piece about a man overcoming the odds, and thank goodness for that. It's the kind of movie someone would watch while shadow boxing the air right in front of them, being careful not to knock over their glass of Sprite or their bowl of jalapeño peppers. The thing that makes it special is how well it does all of it. It's an absorbing film, and one that manages to be both engaging and exciting pretty much the entire runtime. No member of the cast feels out of place, and while there are some questionable moments, they do little more than become noticeable while watching what might be one of the best action movies to come out in years.

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