'Kickboxer: Vengeance' - Movie Review

Traditional set-up: "you killed my brother so I will kill you!" martial arts revenge killing, but Kurt Sloane's (Alain Moussi) first attempt on Tong Po (Dave Bautista) is stopped, and he goes to train with the legendary trainer Master Durand (a still surprisingly fit and flexible Jean-Claude Van Damme, desperately sucking in his gut when his shirt is off). The plot is essentially a direct lift from the original "Kickboxer" movie, in which JCVD was training to avenge his brother's death in the ring - also set in Thailand.

Moussi is vanilla in the lead. Not terrible, not overly appealing either. He's good looking, flexible, and well trained in the martial arts. Unfortunately the fight editing is choppy and full of cuts, so we rarely get to see anyone's prowess.

Sara Malakul Lane plays Liu, a cop who was supposed to escort him out of the country. I didn't think she looked Thai at all, but it turns out she's half Thai and half Scottish. And her primary qualification for being in a movie isn't acting or even martial arts skills, it's a history as a model. Convenient when she gets her top off, but doesn't otherwise bring much to the movie.

And you hired Gina Carano to play a fight promoter in a martial arts movie and never put her in a single fight? Seriously? What, you wanted her for her acting chops? Get serious! And then there's JCVD: it's a proven fact he can act (go watch "JCVD" sometime), but he's not even trying here. Nobody is, so let's blame the director for that one. Bautista has also proven he can act ... so let's use him as a one-note muscle-bound baddy. The script is bad too: when Kurt asks Durand to arrange a fight with Tong Po, he replies that "I can't lose two sons." Wait, what? You've trained Kurt for a month (? it's unclear) and you consider him your "son?" We know how long you trained Kurt's brother: a WEEK, that's how long Durand trained him - and considers him a "son." And right after he says he can't lose another son, he arranges the fight. Wow - that's broken logic.

But no one comes to a martial arts movie for the acting, right? So what am I bitching about? And how are the fights? They're okay at best: choppy editing and a particular avoidance of showing hits means it's just not that good.