"...both stars of the series (Jean-Claude Van Damme and Sasha Mitchell) have both been accused of kickboxing their wives..."
- American Ninja Man
Director: David Worth, Mark DiSalle
Writer: Mark DiSalle, Jean-Claude van Damme, Glenn A. Bruce
Producer: Mark DiSalle, Charles Wang
Cast: Jean-Claude van Damme, Dennis Alexio, Haskell Vaughn Anderson III, Dennis Chan, Rochelle Ashana, Michel Qissi
Time: 105 min.
Plot: When American kickboxing champ Eric Sloane is crippled in the ring by the dastardly Tong Po, his younger brother Kurt (Jean-Claude Van Damme) vows revenge. But if he is to defeat Po, Kurt must first learn a martial art known as Muay-Thai, so he seeks out the expertise of fight guru Xian Chow. Thanks to Chow's unconventional training methods, Kurt becomes an expert kickboxer. But is he good enough to defeat Tong Po?
AMERICAN NINJA MAN'S REVIEW: Kickboxer is a series that I myself quite enjoyed over the years. I have all 4 on DVD and for one that shows Van Damme's ability, this one next to Bloodsport is the obvious choice. Also for a little more fun, both stars of the series (Jean-Claude Van Damme and Sasha Mitchell) have both been accused of kickboxing their wives, I of course feel that one should praise them both, for the fact that they're ambitious enough to take their work home with them. I mean how many actors do you know are willing to get so into their parts that they end up actually getting restraining orders by the ones they love.
Kickboxer kicks off (see what I did there?) with a homoerotic opening, with Dennis Alexio and Jean-Claude Van Damme embracing each other while riding the boat down the river. I of course also noted that Van Damme actually buys flowers for Alexio and they stop and take pictures of naked Thai kids jumping in the lake. Yeah they maybe brothers but when is the last time your brother bought you flowers? Just disturbing if you ask me. Our man Jean-Claude goes to get ice for his brother when he spots Tong Po (Michael Qissi) now it escapes nobody's attention that Tong Po is probably the gayest name since Yi-Long but Van Damme can't seem to take his eyes of that said Asian's legs, knowing that he's being watched by the belgian waffle our villain Tong Po, starts showing off and knocks the block off. Van Damme's look is priceless as he begs his brother to "Don't fide theez guy, he crazy heez fawwking crazeee!" I don't want to spoil anything but Jean-Claude's efforts fall on deaf ears. (My explanation is that he couldn't understand what he was saying, Van Damme after all speaks an accent that's thicker the tit off a porn star. VD's brother (Who we'll call Dennis from now on, since Dennis Alexio played him) is paralyzed by Tong Po. (Whoa it's Tong Po he really likes to kick low!) after Jean-Claude locates a cab and gets Dennis to the hospital we are treated to Jean-Claude crying after learning his brother will never walk again.
To which Jean-Claude says "I want...I WANT TONG PO!" I'm guessing to meet in a kickboxing match, but i'm still not sure given the whole fact that he's belgian, wears sleeveless vests, buys flowers for men and of course his relunctance to go to a strip club ("I don't suppose we can't go to a hotel!) this is all of course before Van Damme tries to find someone to whip him into shape and teach him the ways of the kickboxer.
It's here we get the meaningful power ballad "Fight for love with all my heart, fight, for love with knife and sword!" Of course the last lyrics are a little head scratching because we are after all dealing with a movie where the climax depends on two men beating the crap out of each other and not using a knife or sword. Anywhoo Jean-Claude after wasting his time at a strip club goes with his generic black sidekick Taylor (Haskell Anderson) to learn the ways of kickboxing from Xian (Dennis Chan) The first confrontation finds Van Damme hanging upside down asking Xian to let him down and train him. Once again i'm not into ruining it for everyone but he accepts and it's off to training. The training includes Van Damme forced to do the splits as well kicking a palm tree down. I'm not sure how using your leg to chop down a tree would help you beat a muay thai champion but somehow it does. Another aspect of enjoyability is watching Van Damme performing a disco dance to the tune of "Feeling so good today!" Jean-Claude of course can't dance but that didn't stop the director for putting it in, my theory is that it's because Jean-Claude was trying to broaden his horizons and try out for broadway but unfortunately this has yet to materialize. I mean who wouldn't pay to see Cats with Jean-Claude Van Damme dancing and singing. Woo hoo!
Of course seeing Van Damme disco is enough to piss anyone off, some generic asian chumps pick a fight and it's here where Jean-Claude trashes them all, while drunk. (There is a reason why I like this movie) I was in sheer amazement when Jean-Claude did a twirling kick and knocked the guy in the water while also breaking a picnic table in the process. Jean-Claude wonders why people attacked him and the reason is quite a logical one. His master Xian told the fighters that Jean-Claude said that their mothers had sex with mules and were bad fighters. And that it's good training. I for one think setting up a sparring partner would be better but what the hell do I know? I guess it's good training, as long Chuck Zito's not there.
Then after some more training and the reunion between Jean-Claude and Dennis Alexio, as well as some inspid nonsense with Xian's niece we are ready for the final fight. Of course to ensure victory our bad guys kidnap Dennis Alexio, rape Xian's niece and stick a blade in the dog. This of course will force the fight in Tong Po's favor, but not only does Jean-Claude have to lose he has to last all the rounds and put his body on the line for his brother. (Even Sasha Mitchell wouldn't have done that!) I also forget to mention that they fight the ancient way where our boy Jean-Claude and Tong Po fight with broken glass on their gloves. Also the old way must include waxing yourself up because both Jean-Claude and Tong Po are probably the most vaselined things i've seen since the first time I saw a porno. (Ah the teenage years...) They both kickbox each other and i'm not going to give anything away but let's just say that Van Damme does flying kicks and everyone shouts "NUK SU KOW!" translation of white warrior. This is of course one of the greatest American martial arts movies, and you just have to love it.
Character development is nil but who doesn't like seeing two guys beat the crap out of each other. Of course I will next dive into the homestretch and review, Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. Kickboxer though is the main reason why I made it through middle school and it remains a classic in the "Varnished white kickboxer smacks varnished Asian kickboxer" genre and for that who can't love it.
If this is too over the top let me know, I tried to do grammar and stuff but I'm not good with comma splices. I'm branching a new style.
AMERICAN NINJA MAN'S RATING: 7.5/10