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Kickboxer: Van Damme learns his craft
Martin Asiner | jersey city, nj United States | 06/26/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Jean-Claude Van Damme will never be confused for anything other than what he is: a martial arts actor whose acting abilities are less important than his high-kicking ones. This is not a bad thing either. He is probably one of the two or three best action stars now working, and his legions of fans appreciate his style. In KICKBOXER, he reveals in one movie the best and worst of what he is capable. He plays Sloan, an American fighter whose brother is crippled by the savagery of the Thai champion, Tong Po, played by Van Damme's real life friend Michel Quissi, who stars in many of his other films. What the viewer sees is your basic get-revenge-on-the-dude-who-hurt-my-brother movie.
Van Damme closes with s stirring victory over a very tough and, in his own way, a colorful foe. Van Damme's strengths include his good looks, athletic ability, martial arts expertise, and even some boog-a-looing disco dancing. What he adds to this is a sense to the audience of breathless expectation. By simply looking at him undergo the bone-breaking training imposed on him by his Wise Old Master, the viewer can just for that moment put himself on the screen, absorbing the same beating. Even in his first films, when he played the bad guy, the audience knew that any victory the hero achieved over him was dictated only by the script. In KICKBOXER, Van Damme begins what for him proves a winning trend: he needs a worthy opponent to make the movie resonate. In KICKBOXER, Michel Quissi, who is no Asian at all, puts on makeup to simulate the epicanthic eyefolds and shaves his head to produce one mean-looking man. One of the most effective uses of a heavy that I have ever seen in any martial arts film is directors Mark DiSalle and David Worth's decision to introduce Tong Po not by sight but by sound. Van Damme hears a strange pounding and when he investigates by following the noise, almost as if he were a human geiger counter, he sees Tong Po kicking a concrete pillar hard enough to shake dust. The latent fear in his eyes connects viscerally to the audience. This scene in which Van Damme shows hesitation is one of his best, but he rarely exhibits this less than heroic temperament in future films. The down side to KICKBOXER is generic to the genre. It is simply not possible for him to absorb such bone-crunching punishment and bounce up off the mat to fight on and win. But his ability to do so is probably part of the myth and mystique that marks such fight movies. Does anyone really want to peek into the magician's hat to see where the dove comes from?"
An exciting and underrated fighting movie
retrowens | Alabama, USA | 11/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Kickboxer" was one of Jean-Claude Van Damme's first good fighting movies. Now he's made several, but this is one of the movies that got him recognized as a great actor and a great fighter in movies. Kurt Sloane (Jean-Claude Van Damme) makes it his mission to seek revenge and ultimately fight Tong Po, the Thai kickboxer that paralyzed his brother Eric Sloane (Dennis Alexio). But if Kurt wants to earn a fight with Tong Po, he has to train and learn the style of Thai fighting. With the help of Xian (Dennis Chan), he just might have the chance.I've seen just about all of Van Damme's movies, and I still think that "Kickboxer" is one of his best. It has a lot of great fighting in it, and the training that Xian puts Kurt through to get him prepared for the big fight was another great thing about the movie. The training sequences seemed a lot like real karate training. When Tong Po and Kurt finally fight, it was some of the best fighting action I've ever seen in a movie. "Kickboxer" isn't the best Van Damme movie, but it is exciting and it's one of his best. It was a great movie to kickstart Jean-Claude Van Damme's career as an actor in fighting movies. It's hard to believe that the directors didn't pick Van Damme to be in any of the other Kickboxer movies because he did a good job in this one. If you like fighting movies, I definitely recommend getting "Kickboxer.""
Martial-Arts fans wake up!
retrowens | 07/13/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Everybody in search of a good story or anything else that would normally make this title worth a look: Go away! This is for Martial-Arts fans only! But if you like the old fashioned "good guy gets trained by wise old master to kick the butt of the bad guy"-movie Type: Go ahead! Buy this! This early van Damme movie delivers it all (unlike most of his more recent ones): Great fights with a stunningly energetic choreography and one of the longes training-sequences ever to be seen in a movie. Especially the final fight agains evil Tong Po is a feast for every Martial Arts junkie. Going over almost 12 minutes (beware of the heavily cut german and english versions!) this fight is one of the best, ever satged with van Damme showing all he's got, only that here it's much better filmed than it was in "Bloodsport" for ex. His famous "Splits-kick" can be reviewed in this movie again, too! If only he would be doing this kind of stuff still. END"
Jean Claude's best second to Bloodsport and Timecop
Thomas | Georgia | 06/26/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not a huge Jean Claude fan but I give credit where credit is do and this movie gets it. If you like Kickboxing or martial arts in general than you will like Kickboxer (why else would you be reading this review?). I won't give the plot in great detail but mainly Jean Claude goes to Thailand to learn Muy Thai in order to avenge his older brother's injury due to a fight with the champion Tong Po. As in Bloodsport, you get to see Jean Claude train to perfect his fighting skills though I'm not making definite comparisons between the two movies. Even if you don't really care for Jean Claude Van Damme but like martial arts, you should still check this one out. Now one thing I don't like about martial art dvd's is that most of them lack in the features department and this one is no different. Plus, this one is in full frame and not widescreen which is a shame."