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Just listen. With your mind, your heart, your whole being. Jean-Claude Van Damme stars as Kurt Sloane, who after witnessing his brother getting crippled in a Muay Thai fight in Thailand, sets about learning the art himself so as to enact revenge on the sinister Tiger Tong Po who illegally put his brother in the wheel chair. Ah look, I don't see any point in writing about the market that Van Damme movies sit in, I think everyone knows that there isn't going to be great acting in these movies, the plotting will be straight and simple and the resolution will be prescribed to get a whoop and yee-haw response. I would think that as much as some highbrow film fans roll their eyes and look down their noses at these type of action movies, they do at least acknowledge the fighting artistry and choreography on show. They, you hope, stay away and leave the ass kicking fans and nostalgists to wallow in their cheese and beaten body pulp kingdoms. I mean why would an arty film lover seek out an early Van Damme movie anyway? I love Kickboxer, I really do, when I first caught it on release I could be found trying to do some of those wonderful Van Damme moves, rewatching the key moments over and over again, enjoying immensely the adrenalin rush that comes as we go slow-mo and Jean-Claude goes about dismantling uber bastard villain Tiger Tong Po (Michel Qissi). Now, well over twenty years later, I still get that rush, I can't do the moves, mind, I nearly put my shoulder out just punching the air in triumph as a mullet headed Dennis Alexio sticks his thumb up from his wheelchair, but all the thrills are still there, the skills on show still amazing. Hell, there's even a pet thread of substance, damn those animal threads, that cool dog better not get killed! Grrrrrrrr. Of course now, viewing with older and wiser eyes, you can see the clunkiness of the script, the lame-brained plotting and excuses for Van Damme to flash the flesh and show his dexterity. There's even one of the worst dance sequences ever put down on film, so bad I can't believe I never laughed out loud at the cinema all those years ago. Yet it's still a wonderful movie, often exhilarating, the thematics of second chances (Haskell V. Anderson III having a great old time of it as Winston Taylor), revenge and different cultures, these impact greatly on the picture. Then there's Dennis Chan as Xian Chow, giving Pat Morita a run for his money as the most fun cinematic Martial Arts trainer, the real location photography in Thailand, the training sequences and of course we get to learn about the ancient sport of Muay Thai. There's a lot of good here to off set the saggy cheese. There are some truly awful Van Damme movies out there, case in point Cyborg which was released the same year as Kickboxer, and without doubt the quality of Van Damme movies improved in the 90s as his stock began to rise and the budgets went higher. But this is a goody for his fans to lap up, a film to sit alongside Bloodsport as one of the two best action movies from his early body of work. And I love it so. 8/10
JCVD is not a good actor, but he is a fantastic martial artist, and he has shown that in a lot of movies. While there are moments here that demonstrated his skills, I can't help but feel a little disappointed. Some of the build-up I actually quite liked. Tong Po looked menacing and while the Winston Taylor character was a bit cheesy, he grew on me. I was not a fan of Eric Sloanes arrogance. I guess you need to have a bit of that when your champion, but he just did not feel real. Most of the film plays out more like a training montage before the big fight at the end. There were some fun training moments, but a lot of it felt quite boring to me and the added romance did not really work, especially when the acting is not great. I wish the final fight played out differently, it was extremely predictable and there was not much of a fight considering they tried to fix it. I just hoped for more than what I got. 5/10.
A martial arts instructor sets out to rescue his girlfriend who is being held for ransom by a South American warlord.
A World War II vet is pushed to the limit when gang members and drug dealers take over his neighborhood.
A young couple on a motorway journey are drawn into a game of cat and mouse with a truck driver when they see something disturbing in the back of his vehicle.
The story of a donkey Balthazar as he is passed from owner to owner, some kind and some cruel but all with motivations beyond his understanding. Balthazar, whose life parallels that of his first keeper, Marie, is truly a beast of burden, suffering the sins of humankind. But despite his powerlessness, he accepts his fate nobly.
An international oil drilling company hires private investigator Varg Veum to find their missing systems designer, Arne Samuelsen. Varg discovers the headless body of a woman jammed into the fridge in Arne's apartment - and is promptly knocked unconscious. When he wakes up the body is gone and the Police has arrived.
The 1967 story of young rising actress Maggie De La Riva's abduction and rape, and the trial against her 4 abductors.
A nameless, pill-popping drifter girl steps off a bus and into a New Jersey neighborhood bar owned by two middle-age brothers, Jimmy & Victor. She quickly befriends older brother, Victor––a good-natured lummox whose mind was affected by a childhood accident. The mysterious "Girl" soon upsets the delicate balance of the brothers' lives while bringing both trouble and new life into their resigned world and town.
A young man whose constant yawning leaves him out of work gets a gangster arrested by accident. Now, the latter is out to get his revenge, but what he doesn't know is how powerful a yawn can be.
Kenneth Bianchi, one of the two serial rapists and killers who terrorized the Los Angeles area in the late 1970s, is giving police station interviews to psychiatrist Samantha Stone, who has disquieting lifestyle issues of her own. It falls to her to delve into the details of the case to determine the veracity of Bianchi's claims of multiple personality disorder, but in so doing, she is forced to relive the horrific crimes, one of which occurs at her very doorstep.
After a nuclear holocaust tears the world apart, mankind is forced to the harshness of not only the oppression of others who are much more powerful, but the dead earth which seems to be getting worse with every passing moment. But a savior has risen from the ashes, a man who will defeat those who would torment the weak and make the world a livable place once more. A man named Kenshiro...
Ryunosuke, a gifted swordsman plying his trade during the turbulent final days of Shogunate rule, has no moral code and kills without remorse. It’s a way of life that leads to madness.