- Van Damme's funny and energetic performance
- Plenty of nicely choreographed fight scenes
- Spot-on casting of Dave Bautista as Tong Po
- Surprisingly intense showdown
- Fittingly atmospheric soundtrack
|Van Damme is a true showstealer here.|
- Underdeveloped crime sub-plot
- Forced romantic scenes
- Uninteresting side-characters
- Alain Moussi is a great fighter but still lacks certain charisma
|Sub-plots and side-characters feel very uninteresting though.|
- Van Damme and his apprentice casually beating up police men while on a prison breakout.
|Dave Bautista as Tong Po makes for a great adversary.|
Kickboxer: Vengeance amazingly defied all the odds standing against it. With it being a reboot of a classic 80's Van Damme movie, being mostly released as direct-to-DVD and recasting the main protagonist role with unknown stuntman Alain Moussi, it was practically destined to become a bargain bin purchase at best. But surprsingly enough, Kickboxer: Vengeance actually has quite some things going for it to make it a pretty entertaining watch and actually a rather good remake/reboot of the original Kickboxer.
Alain Moussi in the title role of protagonist Kurt Sloan is a great stuntman making for many great fight scenes, yet it's hard to deny that he lacks that certain charisma that Van Damme brought to the table in the original. But that's not too bad because Van Damme is actually back in this reboot as Kurt's master Durand. And honestly, Van Damme is the true star of this movie. Van Damme obviously has a lot of fun acting in this movie. His performance is both funny as well as energetic due to his involvement in many of the movie's fight scenes. Actually, Kickboxer: Vengeance might just actually be Van Damme's best movie since JCVD.
Furthermore, a great spot-on casting choice was made by putting Dave Bautista into the role of villain Tong Po. While his relation to criminal activities feels a bit out of place (just like the entire crime sub-plot), Bautista's Tong Po feels very intimidating and like an impossible to beat monster. This leads to an intense showdown that in many ways feels a whole lot more exciting and engaging than the one from the original.
Though Alain Moussi's charisma is still leaving a bit to be desired and the sub-plots feel underdeveloped, Kickboxer: Vengeance still is a huge surprise that gets more things right than wrong. It actually does a pretty good job of bringing the admittedly very simple yet classic original to 2016, all while updating it by making fight scenes more intense and engaging, the villain way more menacing and giving Van Damme a new role that he obviously very much enjoys. It all makes for a reboot that manages to stand strong alongside the original in terms of overall entertainment.
Final Verdict: 6 out of 10