Kickboxer: Retaliation Blu-ray Review
For about two years in college, I lived in a frat house. Despite the stereotype it wasn’t like ANIMAL HOUSE every weekend, although once in a blue moon it was. Most weekends we actually were drinking, but instead of strangers or hundreds of other college students, it was just a handful of us doing the drinking Most of the times we’d get a fifth or a case of beer and watch every bad movie we could get our hands on. This is when I watched films like all THE PUPPET MASTER movies, the RAMBO franchise, and other odds and ends. I also watched a cheesy 1989 movie called KICKBOXER.
As for KICKBOXER: RETALIATION, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be. I like going into movies blind sometimes, but this time it bit me big time. Early on I was trying to figure out if this was a spiritual sequel, a remake, or a remake of a sequel. The name of the title character is still the same, Kurt Sloane. But instead of the iconic Jean-Claude Van Damme, it’s Alain Moussi. Moussi is a martial arts expert first, and an actor second. I’m not going to say too many bad things about the acting skills of a man who could probably break my neck with the flip of a kick.
After a pause of the film and some digging, I came to find out that RETALIATION is the seventh in the KICKBOXER franchise. Having not seen any of the films between the first and this current one, I shrugged off my bewilderment at some of the plot elements that were unfolding, like a character’s drowning being a horrible dream. The plot, as best I can summarize, has Sloane being captured by the founder/host of an underground fight to the death tournament. Having previously won in said tournament, Sloane is brought back against his will to fight a newcomer. The newcomer is a true behemoth, chiseled from rock and enhanced by science.
RETALIATION isn’t a good movie by traditional standards. It’s dumb, long and confusing for those new to the franchise. Most bad movies though, usually have me checking my phone or seeing how much time I have left. I didn’t do that during RETALIATION. For every eye-rolling wink at the screen, whether it was through Van Damme’s character or a surprise pop-up by Mike Tyson, there was a fight that quickly put those bad scenes out of mind. RETALIATION is nearly wall-to-wall fighting and action.
RETALIATION has some great fight choreography. Usually these cheap action flicks rely on CGI or slow-motion to make-up for the fact they didn’t hire a stunt coordinator. But RETALIATION seems to have hired dozens. It also helped you have so many naturally trained fighters playing your characters as they knock each other around. Acting be damned when you got guys who can throw a legitimate punch and take a legitimate hit. This movie is a better 80’s throwback than any of THE EXPENDABLES movies.
I started my review with a bit of my own memories because I remember THE PUPPET MASTER movies more than I do KICKBOXER. I wasn’t particularly fond of KICKBOXER because it seemed to take itself too seriously. RETALIATION, while at times thinking we care about the characters, knows that it’s schlock. There’s even a post-credits gag reel. RETALIATION is worthy of a lazy Saturday with friends and drinks.
Video: (1080p HD Widescreen 2:39:1) Blood and sweat are captured wonderfully on this blu-ray. Some of the finer details are masked in nighttime and dimly lit fights.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) No noticeable audio problems.
Meet the Fighters (5:36): My suspicions were confirmed in this feature that a lot of the cast is real life fighters, whether it’s MMA, the jiu jitsu circuit, or the WWE. The feature isn’t long and it feels like it’s selling itself short about these real-life interesting fighters. That might be why there’s a graphic advertising a website that pops up liberally.