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KICKBOXER 4: THE AGGRESSOR (1994) **

David Sloan (Sasha Mitchell) gets set-up and sent to prison by his arch nemesis Tong Po (Kamel Krifa).  While David is in jail, Tong Po kidnaps his wife and keeps her captive in his fortress.  With a little help from the DEA, David gets out of the slammer and sneaks into Po’s secret martial arts tournament so he can rescue his wife and get some revenge.

 

Albert Pyun (who recently stopped by The Vacuum to say a few kind words… Al, if you’re reading this, welcome back) was back behind the camera for this puppy.  He took a break from the franchise, opting not to direct Part 3 (smart move).  If you ask me, Pyun should be made to direct all even-numbered Kickboxer movies because they are fairly enjoyable for the most part.  (This one is a lot better than 3, I’ll tell you that.)  It’s no Sword and the Sorcerer or anything, but it’ll do for action fans looking for a quick fix who will watch anything with the number 4 in it.

 

The plot is more or less just like every other Kung Fu movie ever made; Enter the Dragon in particular.  (Even right down to the part where Sasha sneaks around at night dressed like a ninja and beats up guards.)   I’ll let that slide though because the tournament is more or less just an excuse to pad the running time with endless scenes of inconsequential characters kicking each other.  Along with the five minute flashback filled opening, there’s probably only about 45 minutes of actual “movie” here.  I don’t think that this is necessarily a bad thing.

 

But if we are going to discuss BAD, let’s broach the subject of Tong Po’s make-up.  Apparently, they couldn’t get the original Tong Po back, so they slapped the most unconvincing Oriental make-up since Peter Lorre was Mr. Moto on Krifa.  In some scenes, it just looks like a bad Halloween mask.  Seriously, I saw in the paper that Rite Aid had 75% off of all their Halloween supplies.  I am absolutely sure this is how the make-up department found the mask used in this movie.

 

The most bizarre thing about Po in this movie though is that while he doesn’t look a thing like the original Tong Po, he sounds EXACTLY like Jean Claude Van Damme.  (If you don’t believe me, just close your eyes during some of his line readings.)  It’s a bit disconcerting to say the least. 

 

Another thing that puzzled me was Mitchell’s performance.  I mean the dude has starred in three Kickboxer movies in a row playing the same character, yet he’s played him in three completely different ways.  In Part 2, he was an easygoing guy trying to do right by some inner city kids.  In Part 3, he basically just replayed his role from Step by Step.  Here, he apes Clint Eastwood and pretty much growls all of his lines.  He isn’t imposing or anything and resembles a sullen teenager as he spends most of the movie walking around glowering.  Still, it’s a big improvement over his awful performance from the last film.  (Must’ve been Pyun’s instinctive tutelage.)

 

And here’s something I didn’t get about the movie:  Why the subtitle, “The Aggressor”?  I mean who exactly is the “aggressor” in this situation?  Is it David for crashing the tournament or is it Tong Po for instigating David’s involvement by kidnapping his wife in the first place?  That part was never really spelled out.  Maybe if Albert stops by again he can clarify that part for me.

 

I’m not going out on a limb and calling Kickboxer 4:  The Aggressor “good” but it had it’s share of head-scratching moments of pure “HUH!?!?”  Like the final round of “To the Death” matches.  In previous scenes, the guards dragged the dead fighters away.  During the last portion of the flick though, the bodies start piling up on the outside of the ring like cordwood.  The guards musta been on a smoke break or something.  Maybe it was just me but I thought that was funny.

 

Even funnier was the final showdown between Tong Po and David, which takes place on a long banquet table.  The two continuously pound on each other while breaking plates, glasses, and centerpieces.  This probably set Tong Po back a pretty penny because I bet it cost a fortune to cater that thing.  I’m sure Tong Po wouldn’t get his deposit back on that either.

 

While we are on the subject of fighting here, I have to say that for all the shit people give Pyun, he did direct one of the greatest barroom brawls ever captured on celluloid in this movie.  It’s not quite Road House, but it comes close.  This scene is (intentionally) very funny and features some kind of record for broken glass.  Simply put, the barroom brawl in Kickboxer 4 is to low budget straight to video kickboxing sequels what the boot eating scene in The Gold Rush was to silent comedy.  It’s that good.  If Pyun had put the same style, energy, and fun from this scene into the entire movie, we would’ve been talking Video Vacuum Awards out the wazoo.  Still, it’s good enough for a solid Two Star rating.

 

Special Note:  Thom Mathews has always been a favorite of mine from his stellar work in the Return of the Living Dead films (speaking of which, I just reviewed Part 2 earlier today) and Jason Lives.  Did you know that Mathews has starred in no less than ELEVEN Albert Pyun movies?  De Niro and Scorsese haven’t even pulled that off!

Comments

( 2 comments — Comment )
(Anonymous)
Oct. 26th, 2009 03:15 am (UTC)
Dead on review. I agree, Mitch. Hopefully I've turned a corner!

Here's the second clip from Tales of an Ancient Empire and I hope I might escape getting shit on...or maybe not!

http://vimeo.com/7248747

Thanks, Mitch. Keep on writin'

Albert Pyun
thevideovacuum
Oct. 26th, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
"That rascal? His sword is always poised!"

Albert, if the rest of the dialogue is half as great, I smell a Video Vacuum Screenwrting Award for Tales of an Ancient Empire in the near future. Can't wait to see some footage of Talon. Keep me posted!
( 2 comments — Comment )

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