Starring Alain Moussi, JCVD, Mike Tyson, Christopher Lambert, Sara Mulakul Lane, Renzo Gracie, Sam Medina, Hafthor Bjornsson
Fight Choreography by Jim Khaowwong
Directed by Dmitri Logothetis
Directed by Alain Moussi returns as Kurt Sloane, now a few years removed from the kumat-the Ques-the–let’s just call it a tournament where he defeated Tong Po. Now having taken Lui from the previous film as his wife, they are enjoying a romantic train ride when Kurt is taken captive, and tossed into a backwater prison run by warden Thomas Moore (Lambert, with the most boring character name ever), who wants Kurt to fight in another match versus his champion, Mongut (Bjornsson)(why do these films have white guys with Asian names? I mean, just call the dude Hafthor. That’s pretty badass too). In order to help Sloane prepare for the fight, Moore brings in Master Durand (JCVD) but this time with a catch: Durand has been blinded since he last saw Kurt for his being “complicit” in the murder of Tong Po, and tossed into prison by Moore. Now, with both Durand and a new teacher in convict Briggs (Tyson) Sloane must enter the ring for a fight to the death with a killing machine…
Moussi. JCVD. Tyson. Lambert. Bjornsson. For goodness sake why not just make a sequel to Street Fighter instead? Let me have a go at this. JCVD back as Guile, Tyson as Balrog, Bjornsson as Zangief, Moussi as Ken, Lambert taking over as M. Bison. Your welcome, Hollywood.
But I digress. The story here runs a bit overlong for the subject matter, and some better editing may have made this a leaner, faster moving film. Despite this the film has hiccups, where things move fast and then grind to a halt, ramps back up, and goes back down again. Moussi is about the same as he was in the previous film, not bad, but not great either. JCVD seems to like playing the blind man, and makes the most of his screen time, but there is a bit less of him fighting in this film, which is a little disappointing as he still looks great onscreen. Tyson is a LOT better here than he was in Ip Man 3, and brings some humor to the proceedings, but his acting still needs a bunch of work. Bjornsson is just a giant monster here, who spends most of the film growling at everyone. Christopher Lambert looks like he’s having fun as the villain, and it’s a welcome sight to see him back in the world of martial arts action films (The Hunted is still one of my favorites).
The fights in the film vary in quality, some of it due to how it was filmed. There are two scenes where we get a tracking one-shot of Sloane fighting and assortment of baddies as he traverses a building under construction, and then while chasing one of his wife’s kidnappers to the song “Wipeout” (which is as cheesy as it sounds). It’s okay but the choreography is simple and the movements aren’t too exciting, but after watching Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais raise the bar on one take fight scenes, it was underwhelming in comparison. So too was the fight between JCVD and Mike Tyson, which should have been the main event of the film, but here is just a little give and take before they buddy up. There was one fight scene I didn’t know I always wanted to see but did.
Jean-Claude Van Damme vs. Christopher Lambert. That’s right, OG Sloane versus the God****n Highlander. Swords and kicks rule the day here, and it was great. Great enough that I really want to see a rematch in a film just about those two Frenchmen. Actually if they had just killed off Sloane and made it a Durand vs Moore film I would’ve been in heaven. As it stands, we have a nice fight scene between two screen legends. The other fights where Moussi fights a bunch of cannon fodder is okay and entertaining, but nothing really stands out about them. The final fight against Mongut drags on far too long, and doesn’t have enough excitement to really stay invested, since Sloane gets beaten about a thousand times, and has three or four different “he’s down for the count! But Wait! He’s still got some fight in him! He’s getting up!” Ugh.
Maybe it’s time for Kurt Sloane to stay down.
Oh yeah. Last gripe: No Stan Bush. No Sasha Mitchell.
Once again, no Stan Bush. But never fear, I got ya’ll covered:
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 6
Kickboxer: Retaliation doesn’t really do much for me as a sequel film, but adding Lambert classes up the film nicely. Hopefully part 3 can bring it all together.