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
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.