The late 1980s were a great time for action movies, and for martial arts action movies in particular. Though many of the films are considered cheesy by today's standards, some of them - such as Jean-Claude Van Damme's Kickboxer - became cult classics that went on to spawn several less-watchable sequels.
After a few years of trying, Kickboxer is finally getting the reboot treatment with the upcoming Kickboxer: Vengeance. A teaser for the film has been released, giving us our first look at the cast which includes Dave Bautista, Georges St-Pierre, Gina Carano, and Van Damme himself.
Vengeance, which is the sixth Kickboxer film overall, re-imagines the original movie with Alain Moussi and Darren Shahlavi taking over the roles of Kurt and Eric Sloane, respectively. When Eric is killed trying to step out of Kurt's shadow by facing the Muay Thai champion Tong Po (Bautista), Kurt swears that he'll get revenge. Eric's former mentor Master Durand (played by Van Damme, replacing the original film's trainer Xian Chow.) initially thinks that Kurt is untrainable, but eventually discovers that Kurt has a hidden inner strength that could take him all the way to Tong Po.
Whether you've seen Kickboxer or not, you've probably seen the basic story before in some movie form. The Vengeance teaser is a fairly basic promo, showcasing the talent of each main cast member in a few seconds. Interestingly, the only player that we see in action here is Van Damme's Master Durand; almost all of the other clips simply feature the character walking or making other small movements. Bautista's Tong Po isn't even seen from the front... all that we get a glimpse of is his heavily tattooed back and part of his ponytail.
To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about this. Much of Kickboxer's popularity is owed to its status as a cult classic; a reboot seems unnecessary, as the original was more carried by its fights than its plot. This could be contrasted against The Karate Kid, which had a more relatable story that could be retold (though the jury is out for many regarding whether it was retold well in the reboot.) It's possible that a deeper story could be worked in to the film, but given that the writing team's credits include a bunch of TV episodes (including Matlock and The Father Dowling Mysteries), two Lifetime movies and Hardbodies 2, fans probably shouldn't hold out hope.
Then again, it's very possible that the fight scenes could carry this film just as they did in the original. Bautista's star power has certainly grown since his appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy, so his name plus nostalgia might make Kickboxer: Vengeance a bit of a box office draw. The teaser (briefly) shows us that Van Damme still has some impressive moves, so there might be hope for the rest of the cast to put on some impressive fight scenes, if nothing else.
Kickboxer: Vengeance is slated for release in 2016. A sequel, Kickboxer 2: Retaliation, is already in development.
Source: Radar Pictures