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KICKBOXER 2: THE ROAD BACK (1991) **

David Sloan (Sasha Mitchell) doesn’t compete in kickboxing tournaments because both of his brothers died fighting the dreaded (in more ways than one) kickboxing champion Tong Po (Michael Qissi).  Instead, David opts to teach inner city kids kickboxing in his rundown gym.  To keep the gym open, he has to accept a big payday to fight for the kickboxing title.  He easily wins and after the match, calls out the promoters for being drug dealers and scumbags.  They get P.O.’ed PDQ and torch his gym, resulting in the death of one of the kids.  If that wasn’t enough, Tong Po also shows up and murders David’s prize student in the ring, Ivan Drago style.  You know what that means:  David’s got to dip his fists in Krazy Glue and broken glass and give Tong Po a beat down.    

 

You know, I hate it when sequels unceremoniously kill off one of the main characters off screen.  The most notorious instance of this is in Alien 3 when David Fincher killed off Newt and Hicks without giving them benefit of a meaningful death.  I think the only time that this device actually worked was in Rocky Balboa because Adrian’s death gave the story some depth.  What Kickboxer 2 does though is akin to killing off Rocky and substituting his brother, Stony.  If there is no Rocky in a Rocky movie, then what’s the point?

 

Yes, Kickboxer 2:  The Road Back features absolutely no Jean Claude Van Damme whatsoever.  Instead, we get… Sasha Mitchell, the idiot from Step by Step.  This is not an acceptable trade-off from where I’m sitting.  I will say this for Mitchell though; he is a halfway passable martial artist and has a sliver of charisma.  He’s not great, but he’s better than say, David Bradley, who replaced Michael Dudikoff in the American Ninja movies. 

 

I didn’t know this until I popped the DVD into the player, but this flick was directed by none other than Albert Pyun.  This guy kinda gets unfairly criticized as being one of the worst directors in film history.  I say that any man who directed Sword and the Sorcerer is OK in my book.  Still, Pyun has directed some unmitigated turds in his time.  I mean have you SEEN Alien from LA?  Pyun is also the dude who directed Jean Claude Van Damme’s worst film, Cyborg, so I guess you really can’t blame old JCVD for turning down the opportunity to reprise his role.    

 

Pyun’s style is straightforward and befits the material.  He does go more than a little overboard with the slow motion in the final two fights.  So much so that when Tong Po breathes, he sounds like a damn tiger.  The fights themselves are not bad per se; they’re just sorta bland and unmemorable.  You can easily say the same thing about the film.

 

The flick was written by David S. Goyer, screenwriter of Blade and Batman Begins.  Goyer also wrote Van Damme’s Death Warrant.  (I just like the way that sentence sounds.)  He also gave villain Cary-Hiroyuki (Showdown in Little Tokyo) Tagawa all the best lines like:  “Some things money can’t buy.  Fortunately for me, you’re not one of those things!”

 

Mitchell returned for more in Kickboxer 3 and 4.

Comments

( 3 comments — Comment )
(Anonymous)
Oct. 20th, 2009 07:53 pm (UTC)
It's Albert Pyun
Hi Mitch -- Well, first, let me apologize for the unmitigated turds. Sorry you had to experience those. But I'm glad I'm "Ok" due to The Sword and the Sorcerer and maybe I can redeem myself with me follow to Sword..."Tales of an Ancient Empire".

I uploaded a scene from Tales (http://www.vimeo.com/7028173) for your review. Please give me some feedback on it so you can prevent me from pushing out yet another turd!

Thanks for the KB2 review and your kind and other words.

Best,
Albert
thevideovacuum
Oct. 20th, 2009 09:24 pm (UTC)
Re: It's Albert Pyun
Albert,

That scene from Tales looked great. I always like Sorbo when he's acting like a smug prick. (I particularly liked his line about being "in need of coin".) I think he's a perfect fit into the S & S world. If you're interested, here's the link to my S & S review: http://thevideovacuum.livejournal.com/355107.html I've been waiting decades for TOAAE and I'm glad it's time has finally come. If you are able, I'd L-O-V-E to have a screener of Tales, so I can be the first one on my block to see it. Thanks for visiting the site, and stop on by The Vacuum any time.

Regards, Mitch

Edited at 2009-10-20 09:26 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous)
Oct. 21st, 2009 12:38 am (UTC)
Re: It's Albert Pyun
Hi Mitch,

Thanks for the link to the TSATS review. It reminds me what we need to achieve with Tales. The fun bar is high but I think we match if not top it. What little I've learned in the 28 years since shooting TSATS, I've eye dropped into Tales with TLC.

Yeah, Kevin's great in this as a spectacularly unheroic rogue.

The next clip will be up in a day or so.

Best,
Albert
( 3 comments — Comment )

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