(US/UK - 2018)
Directed by Dimitri Logothetis. Written by Dimitri Logothetis and Jim McGrath. Cast: Alain Moussi, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Christopher Lambert, Mike Tyson, Sara Malakul Lane, Jessica Jann, Hafpor Julius Bjornsson, Sam Medina, Steven Swadling, Miles Strommen, Rico Verhoeven, Maxine Saveria, Nicolas Van Varenberg. (R, 110 mins)
The 2016 reboot KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE pulled a CREED by putting Jean-Claude Van Damme, the star of 1989's KICKBOXER, into the mentor role (though not as the same character) while Alain Moussi inherited lead KICKBOXER duties. It was an enjoyable enough actioner that had some good fight sequences and a lot of genuine affection for Van Damme, with Moussi even recreating JCVD's goofy dance from the original. But it was a troubled production that dealt with the death of co-star Darren Shahlavi early in the shoot, then had filming suspended for four months when production company Radar Pictures left the New Orleans portion of the shoot without paying the crew and locally hired personnel. Director John Stockwell then quit and when production resumed in Thailand, co-writer Dimitri Logothetis (SLAUGHTERHOUSE ROCK) took over directing duties, though only Stockwell was credited. Logothetis is back to direct KICKBOXER: RETALIATION, and while it seems to have been blessed with a more stable production, it lacks the sentimental charm and the financial backing of its predecessor. Stockwell is no auteur, but he's got A-list experience and has directed a number of nice-looking movies like BLUE CRUSH and TURISTAS. Logothetis has logged more time producing than directing and doesn't have the kind of eye that Stockwell has, and as a result, KICKBOXER: RETALIATION looks drab and cheap, with one scene on top of a speeding train that shows off some of the most laughably bush-league greenscreen that the mid-1990s had to offer. Originally intended to be released last year, KICKBOXER: RETALIATION was shot quickly and was already in the can when KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE bowed, and it shows. It's perfectly watchable but utterly average and it looks like the very definition of "straight-to-DVD."
There can be only one!"