What's missing in Kickboxer is a solid script and keen direction of dramatic sequences... Van Damme choreographed and edited all the fight scenes, and his talent is undeniable. If you're thrilled by a flurry of spinning back kicks, elbow punches and assorted high-flying martial-arts tricks, Kickboxer has your name on it. [12 Sep 1989, p.C7]
A really fun and enjoyable martial arts B movie. It is the kind of movie that will be hated by critics but loved by a loyal fan base. Of cause it is no Godfather movie, Shakespearean play or Oscar material and it never tries to be. If you have a soft spot for B movies that are enjoyable and well made this is a must see (especially for martial arts fans). It follows the “No Retreat, No Surrender” formula where the underdog trains to become better than the unstoppable bad guy. As a side note: This and “No Retreat, No Surrender” were marketed as “Karate Tiger 1 and 3 in my country. As I see overlaps in the story structure and both have Jean Claude van Damme it makes a bit of sense even if this has nothing to do with Karate. In my childhood this was a must see in my age group and universally liked. Today we say it is a “Turn your brains of popcorn movie” and it is a good one. The story follows the brothers Eric and Kurt Sloane. Eric is the Kickboxing champion in the USA and Kurt his coach / cornerman. After Eric successfully defends his title with ease he wants a new challenge and want to compete against Thailand's champion as Kickboxing started there. He however never expected an opponent like Tong Po who crushes him in the fight with ease and left him with heavy injuries. Kurt wants revenge but knows he is absolutely under-prepared and has to train. This is the set up of the story. It is the martial arts underdog story we love in so many incarnations. It works and entertains well for genre standards. They do also more than needed and I like that too. The fights are well done and impactful. For its time it was really good. It is garnered with some humor. Another part of my enjoyment were the characters. Jean Claude van Damme was at the beginning of his career in this movie and I think his role as Kurt helped to establish him. He works well and delivers the fights. Michel Qissi as Tong Po is a menacing opponent. He is like a grim force of nature that crushes anything in his way. He just delivers with his look, posture and expression. Now to Eric Sloane who is played by legendary Kickboxer Dennis Alexio. He also delivers his role even if not being a professional actor. Dennis Chan as Xian Chow fully sells the role as wise and incredible martial arts master. I will also praise Ka Ting Lee as Freddy Lee, Hakell Anderson as Winston Taylor and Rochelle Ashana as Mylee. For genre standards we got a real good cast. Now to the elephant in the room. Today it is viewed by some as having racist stereotypes. To be fair I can see this but say if they want to go for full racism they failed. They would have done far more back then without troubles. It is just an entertainment movie and back then the standards were different. Overall this is a good martial arts movie of its time and really enjoyable. Just expect a popcorn movie and not an art film to avoid disappointment.
Kickboxer is a film for the truly undiscriminating. It exists for one reason, to display the physique and kickboxing style of Jean-Claude Van Damme. Compared to Van Damme, Sylvester Stallone is Laurence Olivier and Chuck Norris is John Malkovich. [13 Sep 1989, p.C05]
This may not be the dumbest action picture of the year, but it's not for lack of trying. Insurmountable plot implausibilities, rampant racial stereotyping, superfluous nudity and inhuman amounts of comically exaggerated violence--"Kickboxer" has it all.
To the jackass Dr Lowdown - As for the script being lifted from Rocky 5- that cant be true as R5 came out in November 90, a full two years after JCVD's KB. So **** a fat one sonny.
Look, all martial arts movies should follow this formula. East meets west, transference of skills , mystical knowledge, self improvement empowerment awesome kicks. The teenage boy who saw this loved the athleticism, the editing the smash repeat cuts were all Van damme, he was hardwired into the teenage imagination , I loved the editing pow pow pow pow. Absolute benchmark in teenage action .
By all normal measures Kickboxer just isn't a very good film. The plot is lifted almost straight from Rocky V, the script and plot are about as subtle as a runaway freight train and far too much of the running time is taken up with, what are supposed to be, spiritual training sequences.
Despite all this there is something about the Kickboxer, something that only these sort of 80's action films seem to have, that ensures they are still watchable and that by the end you'll be rooting for the good guy to win anyway.
What a horrible, predictable and absolutely boring movie. It's pathetically bad. During the movie I asked myself: 'Is this an actual film or a stupid joke'. It's so dumb, that it made me angry. In top of the waste-of-time movies. Unbelievable.
Un nanar qui a, je suppose, une valeur historique puisqu’il s’agit du tout premier film du père Jean-Claude qui était alors tout jeunot à l’époque ! et on a pour tout dire déjà tout l’univers « JCVD » dans ce bidule avec notamment les grands écarts et les fameux coups de pied retournés.
Et d’ailleurs, je me rends compte d’une chose : s’il tape fort le gars Jean-Claude, il est incapable d’enchaîner plus… d’un mouvement d’affilée. Car après un coup de tatane, il faut couper et lui dire quel prochain coup de pied ou coup de latte donner et c’est comme ça dans tous ses films. C’est le problème avec le Jean-Claude : la mémoire-tampon est très limitée.
Alors, tu te rends compte, si en plus, il doit ‘déclamer’ quelques lignes, c’est pas gagné… Cependant, il est intéressant de constater qu’à cet égard, son jeu a… légèrement progressé selon le film concerné bien sûr (c’est au cas par cas) depuis cette lointaine époque (1989 quand même !), d’autant plus qu’il débutait non pas de zéro mais de bien dessous de zéro.
Quoi qu’il en soit, ce nanar en Thaïlande est bien ridicule de bout en bout… on ‘appréciera’ à sa juste valeur le maître qui entraîne le blaireau par exemple : on se demande si on est (toujours) dans le sketch des Inconnus ou pas (?!)… Le film reste par ailleurs très mollasson, d’une ringardise pitoyable et d’un stupidité de tous les instants, à peine digne d’un téléfilm à la petite semaine. A regarder en accéléré.