Kickboxer: Vengeance ***Dir: John Stockwell. With: Alain Moussi, Dave Bautista, Gina Carano, Jean-Claude van Damme. 90 mins. Cert: 15
1989’s oft-rented, rarely rewound Kickboxer provided many with their introduction to Jean-Claude van Damme and Muay Thai martial arts. This remake proves smarter than was strictly necessary: capable journeyman John Stockwell (Blue Crush) busts out the helicopter shots to oversee boyish Alain Moussi’s progress through Thailand to avenge his brother’s death at the extensively tatted hands of former WWE heel Dave Bautista. The performers bring more physical heft than thespian clout, but genre nostalgists should appreciate the refreshingly uncomplicated manner in which Stockwell frames their dust-ups, displaying a sure editorial feel for the landing of foot or fist on face or torso. (They’ll be doubly delighted when a fugitive Moussi and pupil-turned-master van Damme encounter workmen carrying glass panes across a busy street.) Semi-disposable VOD fodder, then, but this lean, unpretentious entertainment delivers everything one might want from a film titled Kickboxer: Vengeance – including, at the last, an homage to the younger van Damme’s disco-dancing prowess.
Kickboxer: Vengeance is now playing in selected cinemas.