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4.4 out of 5 stars
Kickboxer [Blu-ray]
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Jean-Claude Van Damme will never be confused for anything other than what he is: a martial arts actor whose acting abilities are less important than his high-kicking ones. This is not a bad thing either. He is probably one of the two or three best action stars now working, and his legions of fans appreciate his style. In KICKBOXER, he reveals in one movie the best and worst of what he is capable. He plays Sloan, an American fighter whose brother is crippled by the savagery of the Thai champion, Tong Po, played by Van Damme's real life friend Michel Quissi, who stars in many of his other films. What the viewer sees is your basic get-revenge-on-the-dude-who-hurt-my-brother movie.
Van Damme closes with s stirring victory over a very tough and, in his own way, a colorful foe. Van Damme's strengths include his good looks, athletic ability, martial arts expertise, and even some boog-a-looing disco dancing. What he adds to this is a sense to the audience of breathless expectation. By simply looking at him undergo the bone-breaking training imposed on him by his Wise Old Master, the viewer can just for that moment put himself on the screen, absorbing the same beating. Even in his first films, when he played the bad guy, the audience knew that any victory the hero achieved over him was dictated only by the script. In KICKBOXER, Van Damme begins what for him proves a winning trend: he needs a worthy opponent to make the movie resonate. In KICKBOXER, Michel Quissi, who is no Asian at all, puts on makeup to simulate the epicanthic eyefolds and shaves his head to produce one mean-looking man. One of the most effective uses of a heavy that I have ever seen in any martial arts film is directors Mark DiSalle and David Worth's decision to introduce Tong Po not by sight but by sound. Van Damme hears a strange pounding and when he investigates by following the noise, almost as if he were a human geiger counter, he sees Tong Po kicking a concrete pillar hard enough to shake dust. The latent fear in his eyes connects viscerally to the audience. This scene in which Van Damme shows hesitation is one of his best, but he rarely exhibits this less than heroic temperament in future films. The down side to KICKBOXER is generic to the genre. It is simply not possible for him to absorb such bone-crunching punishment and bounce up off the mat to fight on and win. But his ability to do so is probably part of the myth and mystique that marks such fight movies. Does anyone really want to peek into the magician's hat to see where the dove comes from?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 1998
Format: VHS Tape
Everybody in search of a good story or anything else that would normally make this title worth a look: Go away! This is for Martial-Arts fans only! But if you like the old fashioned "good guy gets trained by wise old master to kick the butt of the bad guy"-movie Type: Go ahead! Buy this! This early van Damme movie delivers it all (unlike most of his more recent ones): Great fights with a stunningly energetic choreography and one of the longes training-sequences ever to be seen in a movie. Especially the final fight agains evil Tong Po is a feast for every Martial Arts junkie. Going over almost 12 minutes (beware of the heavily cut german and english versions!) this fight is one of the best, ever satged with van Damme showing all he's got, only that here it's much better filmed than it was in "Bloodsport" for ex. His famous "Splits-kick" can be reviewed in this movie again, too! If only he would be doing this kind of stuff still. END
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 16, 2008
The Jean Claude Van Damme Review Matrix (JCVD-RM)

1.Who is he? Kurt Sloane, hapless corner man for his brother Eric Sloan, hapless kickboxer
2.Which family member/friend must be avenged? His brother gets pummeled into a paraplegic, and his new girlfriend gets raped...both by the same guy
3.Does he take his shirt off? He's topless throughout nearly the entire movie.
4.Does he have sex with a C-List actress? I'm not even sure if she's C-List, and I'm not totally sure JCVD got past first-base
5.Is there a tournament? Yes, but JCVD makes it straight into the championship match.
6.Is training needed for this tournament? Training constitutes the majority of this movie. He kicks a defenseless bamboo tree to somehow strengthen (and not fracture) his leg, and does calisthenics with a backdrop of historic ruins, screaming eagles, and warrior spirits. The majority of the training, however, well...
7.Does he do the splits in training or in the tournament? Not only does he do the splits, but he's involved in some sort of sadomasochistic, palm tree pulley system of groin torture that goes beyond actual splits. Such an important concept to this movie, I think "The Splits" is listed as a co-star on the official DVD.
8.Does he punch someone in the balls? No, but his heel goes Achilles tendon deep into Tong Po's colon - that's enough.
9.Does he do a series of flying or 360 kicks? Only at every possible opportunity.
10.Is his enemy unbeatable? Tong Po is not only unbeatable, but his shin bones have been surgically replaced with iron rods.
11.Does he overcome an injury or other hindrance? Yes, his brother is held hostage by Tong Po's people, and Kurt is told to enter the fight without defending himself. On top of that, he learns mid-fight from Tong Po raped his girl.
12.Does he win? Through sheer willpower, and the most telegraphed collection of blows in fighting history, he somehow prevails.

This is the funniest of all JCVD movies. The stretching torture, the underwater kicking scene during training, the German Sheppard, the hokey choreography, the pointless jive-talking black guy, the absolutely hysterical lack of defense from Tong Po during the final battle, laughable acting, and a genius dancing scene reminiscent of his appearance in Breakin' all make for a gem. If you like JCVD, cheesy martial arts movies, or a good night of MST3K, pick this one up for an entertaining night.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
Back in the 80s, this one was one my top movies!!!! Along with Karate Kid, The Dragon : Bruce Lee's Story and best of the best. All inspired me to become a martial arts expert. Which I have used for over 7 years! I can seriously say I have watch this movie over 100 times, before going to tae kwon do and afterwards. Trying to perfect my form, all show off movies. Nothing too powerful, but it looks amazing in demos for karate schools. You will truly fall in love with this movie!! RENT/WATCH IT/OWN IT!!!

*why does van damm always have to reveal his rear end in almost every film he makes??
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2005
Format: DVD
I'm not a huge Jean Claude fan but I give credit where credit is do and this movie gets it. If you like Kickboxing or martial arts in general than you will like Kickboxer (why else would you be reading this review?). I won't give the plot in great detail but mainly Jean Claude goes to Thailand to learn Muy Thai in order to avenge his older brother's injury due to a fight with the champion Tong Po. As in Bloodsport, you get to see Jean Claude train to perfect his fighting skills though I'm not making definite comparisons between the two movies. Even if you don't really care for Jean Claude Van Damme but like martial arts, you should still check this one out. Now one thing I don't like about martial art dvd's is that most of them lack in the features department and this one is no different. Plus, this one is in full frame and not widescreen which is a shame.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2009
Format: Blu-ray
1989 martial arts movie set in Thailand and focusing on the somewhat brutal sport of Muay Thai,the national sport of Thailand, which has gained wider recognition in the West because it's the de facto fighting style for mixed martial arts. Jean-Claude Van Damme is no great actor, but it's a good action movie for all that. In the movie, Van Damme is Kurt Sloane, brother of Eric (Dennis Alexio), the top kickboxer in the United States. Tiring of the generic competition of his native soil, he travels with brother Kurt to Bangkok, where he hopes to dethrone the current champ Tong Po (Michel Qissi), who has a reputation for fighting dirty. Kurt first sees this towering mountain of flesh and muscle kicking the hell out of a support beam in the locker room; that's the first clue to Kurt that Eric shouldn't get in the ring, but he's not listening. And Eric fights anyway, against baby brother's warnings.

To make a long story short, Eric takes quite a beating in the ring but a series of illegal blows delivered after Kurt throws in the towel cripple Eric for life. So what went wrong? According to some sources, American Kickboxing is a watered-down form of Muay Thai, so it's no wonder Tong Po got the upper hand so quickly on Eric, who despite his excellent training and peak physical condition, only landed a few lucky punches on the towering fighter. Apparently, Muay Thai is strictly for street fighting, not something for refined martial artists like Kurt and Eric. To teach Tong Po a lesson in humility, Kurt contacts American Winston Taylor (Haskell V. Anderson III) to seek out a venerated Thai master, Xian Chow (Dennis Chan), to learn the art of Muay Thai, and so the training begins. Kurt first puts aside his already-planted Karate training and strengthens his body, kicks tree stumps until the scar tissue prevents any kind of feeling aside from invincibility, learns a little about Asian spirituality, and even flirts with Chow's niece Mylee (Rochelle Ashana). What it all culminates in, of course, is a no-holds-barred "Rocky IV"-style showdown using the ancient rope-fists between Kurt and Tong Po.

As Kurt Sloane, Van Damme is good (despite his acting limitations), his performance notwithstanding, and none of the other performers are really worth speaking of either, but Tong Po is a nasty villain and his one speaking line "You bleed like Mylee. Mylee good f**k" sends chills down the spine. The fights are another thing and are what this feature co-directed by Mark DiSalle and David Worth seems to specialize in. The fights are spectacular (as with any martial arts movie that features Van Damme doing his trademark splits and 360-degree flying spin-kick), which does include one sequence where Kurt gets drunk, starts dancing, and takes on the patrons at a bar. Just don't let the film "kick" you in the head too much with its lackadaisical script and lame-brain plotting.

As an aside, I was in Thailand when they were filming this movie - one scene was filmed in the street I was staying in in Bangkok - saw the whole scene being filmed from the bar in which I was ensconced, had no idea what it was or who the muscle bound actor was until I saw the movie a couple of years later. And then it dawned on me like a wet fish to the side of the head - I'd spent a whole day a mere 50 feet from Jean-Claude. And I didn't get a single Singha bottle autographed!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Kickboxer is a high class film. This film sees Jean Claude looking to avenge his brother's unnecesarry spine breaking injury from the champion of Thailand boxing Tung Po in a kickboxing match that decided the world championship. Even though he is no match to face Tung Po he gains help from a retired soldier to introduce him to his old friend,he then is trained up by one of the most respected former kickboxing Champions in Thailand. From the old man Jean Claude learns how to beat any oponent and is always gaining practice through braking trees with his legs and kicking arse with his body. But another problem occurs, a lady he takes a liking to(his master's grand daughter)has been having her village terrorised by Tung Po's bosses and she seeks his help to get rid of them. He then establishes himself in Thailand as one of the greatest kickboxers of all time and gains revenge for his brother.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2009
Format: Blu-ray
This has always been one of my favorite 80's flicks-a tale of retribution between brothers, and a "journey" of revenge in an action setting. Based on the reviews of others at Amazon and elsewhere, I was excited to give this one a look. I purchased it under $10. I am giving the film 4/5 for entertainment value, but I'd only give it 3/5 for PQ, 5/5 AQ. The transfer was stellar in parts(those shots that were cleaned up)-the film has never looked better. However it was clear that the entire film was not cleaned up, as there was significant dirt in many parts of the film, especially indoor scenes, with noticable dust and dirt flying across the lens. I was disappointed that the whole film was not presented, according to those scenes that were excellent, especially for an 80's movie. Those scenes that were clean, were crisp, and clear, and detail was amazing, for an older film. For price I won't complain, as the majority of the film has never looked better, but they could have given the same consistent treatment to the whole disc-I would have paid a few dollars more. Van Damme is not known for his acting, but the fierceness and skill in his fighting, along with the overall entertaining story and setting of the film are still worth a look. If you're a fan it's worth the upgrade.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2010
Format: Blu-ray
I always worry that 80's films won't look good on Blu-Ray, but Kickboxer was a real exception. The picture is crisp, the colors look great, and the sound is excellent.

Kickboxer isn't my favorite JCVD movie by a stretch, but it's still one I enjoy. I only have two complaints about this particular Blu-Ray. The first is that there are at least two scenes that Lionsgate didn't clean up when transferring the movie to a Blu-Ray format. You also don't get total clarity on an HDTV with some of the scenes that were obviously shot in low light.

My other complaint is that the extras section only contained previews from other Lionsgate film that you already watched before the movie starts (Transporter 3, Crank, Bangkok Dangerous). I stumbled across a great online interview with Michel Qissi, who plays Tong Po. I never realized that he was best friends with Jean Claude Van Damme, or that he also starred in Bloodsport (I never recognized him). An interview with Qissi, if not JCVD, would have been a terrific extra for the Blu-Ray.

If you like Kickboxer, you should absolutely get it on Blu-Ray.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This was a very good movie about karate fighting. Van Damme's brother who is champion of the arena takes on a new challenger. After watching the new challenger warming up Van Damme urges his brother to drop out of the fight. Van Damme's brother loses the fight and his title. He is also paralyzed as a result of the beating that he recieves from the Thai fighter. Van Damme decides to seek vengance for his brother's injury. He learns the Thai method of karate from a master. He has a few fights before he fights the man who crippled hid brother. Van Damme is finally able to gain vengance after a wild battle. Once again Van Damme prevails. This is a very good movie that you should watch. You will not be dissapointed.
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