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Kickboxer film review

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In an age where special effects were the fading of one scene to another, and movie soundtracks were available on vinyl and cassette, Kickboxer, starring Jean Claude Van Damme, relied on three things, a great storyline, non-stop action, and kick-ass fight scenes!

With a training montage which would make the likes of Rocky Balboa cry and edge-of-the-seat martial arts, we relive the magic of this classic, revered by many as a cult classic.

Van Damme plays the role of Kurt Sloane, the corner and mentor figure to his older brother, Eric Sloane (Dennis Alexio). Eric is enjoying much success worldwide as a renoun Kickboxer, winning many titles, stealing women’s hearts and living the grand lifestyle. Kurt is the more level-headed of the two, and despite his actions to keep Eric modest and focused, Eric starts to lose focus and dedication on the sport he loves.

Enter Tong Po (Michel Qissi). Eric and Kurt decide that after conquering America, that the Far East is their next destination and in the words of Eric, ‘the place where the chicks treat like you like a god!’ Of course, the film portrays the typical stereotypes displayed of the Far East, with plenty of willing wifes-to-be and go-go girls, as well as a huge Muay Thai scene and Kickboxers to boot!

When Eric and Kurt arrive, instead of visiting the many dojos and Muay Thai gyms to train and greet the public, Eric is more than content to lap it up with the go-go girls, even dismissing Kurt at one point to ‘get to know’ the girls. It’s at this point that Kurt meets Steve (Freddy Li), a retired American war veteran who has a love of go-go girls who has come to the Far East to ‘live like a king’, Freddy displays traits of the old businessmen who also go to the Far East, to find a wife of sorts.

Fast forward to the big fight between Tong Po and Eric, Eric displays his cockiness in the media by declaring he will break Tong Po ‘like a twig’. While Eric is in his locker room, Kurt manages to eavesdrop on Tong Po, who is kicking a concrete column into pieces with such intensity, who lives up to the adage of 1 picture means 1000 words, by making a ‘breaking’ sign with his two hands.

Despite Kurt’s reluctantacy, Eric claims he still wants to fight, claiming he has the speed advantage. However, as Eric finds out, being fast doesn’t mean a thing when you are laid out on the floor! Unlike the last of Eric’s fights, which displayed a good demonstration of kickboxing and kept viewers enthralled, the fight vs. Tong Po leaves the viewers wincing and pitying Eric, as he is used and abused like a ragdoll, and despite his efforts to throw the towel in, Kurt can only bear to watch, as Eric becomes paralysed from a Tong Po elbow to the back.

Of course, Kurt has to extract revenge on Tong Po, vowing to learn the art of Muay Thai and challenge Tong Po, however, the not-so-typical obstacles stand in his way, Tong Po’s underground crime syndicate links, who attempt to stop Kurt on every attempt, and his inability to find somebody to train him, with many Muay Thai gyms laughing at the face of an American who wants to learn the art of Muay Thai.

Freddy finally plays some importance in the film, with Eric in the hospital for 3 months, Freddy becomes an associate, and even a close friend of Kurt’s, who is given the name of Xian Chow (Dennis Chan), a Muay Thai trainer of phenomenal standards, who bears some resemblance to that of Mr.Miyagi.

Kurt begins to engage on a Rocky-esque training montage, starting off as a bit of a slouch, Kurt demonstrates huge improvement through harsh and unforgiving training methods, such as attaching pieces of meat to himself, and being chased by a rabid dog. Before you can say the word ‘dodgy montage soundtrack’, Kurt is a honed, toned, Muay Thai machine, demonstrating the splits, flying kicks and brutal roundhouses.

Word starts to spread about Kurt Sloane, the American set to take on Tong Po for his crown, Po’s associates are not pleased, and try to hijack the quiet refuge where Kurt trains with Xian Chow. It’s at this point where Kurt displays a stunning array of MuayThai moves, leaving all of Tong Po’s associates laid out, and leaving a motivated Kurt, ready to take on Tong Po.

Of course, the finale is no normal fight, both men decide to fight to the death, covering their hands in bandages and resin, in which broken glass is stuck on, making the punches that little bit more lethal. The fight is a piece of cinematic magic, with both Tong Po and Kurt displaying superb Muay Thai techniques, kicks that defy gravity and punches which get the audience both in the movie, and those watching, onto their feet, cheering for Kurt.

At the end of this epic battle, Kurt stands over Tong Po’s lifeless body, and raises his hand in victory, with calls of ‘white warrior’ being chanted, the film finishes in a fitting finale, with Eric and Kurt side by side, celebrating in victory, which is a strange comparison to the start, in which they were also both celebrating victory, except it was Kurt this time, the world champion of Muay Thai.

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