Kickboxer 2: The Road Back (1991)
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As the first movie pointed out, there was only two brothers. There was never a secret brother. The "brother" subplot was used in the first one, even if they did have yet another brother (man what a cheesy, excuse to do a sequel!), they obviously don't care too much about him as they said in the first one "there's only you and me". I can't imagine Eric saying. "Dad was always on my case. But he made me harder. Oh wait on me AND David! I somehow forget that I grew up with a brother here!" Satcha Mitchell is really weak and wimpy looking. He could never be the brother of Kurt and Eric (as Tong Po correctly states in this movie, "You're the weakest of all the Sloanes". That's no bulls**t. It's true). He's really boring and can't act. I would stick to 'Step by Step', Satcha, because as an action star, you're pathetically weak. Kickboxer was a success mainly for the presence of Van Damme. When you put in an unknown actor who's as dull as ditchwater, you know you're in trouble. It basically confirms that this is not a sequel as the actor you see in the flashback is obviously not Van Damme. Maybe this is another person Tong Po fought that was also named Kurt Sloan (cause the Kurt Sloan we know only had one brother, Eric). When you put in a villain that was already defeated (Tong Po), it's kinda mindless. But somehow, despite being soundly defeated, the movie attempts to show him as "stonger than before (how?)" And if Tong Po REALLY killed Kurt (which he didn't, as I said, this film didn't happen), just bashing him up in the end is not getting revenge. Knowing he is a killer, you can only be satisfied if he is killed at the end and gets what he deserves (which he doesn't), so there's no stopping him from doing the same to David Sloan. I could relate to Kurt, I certainly couldn't relate to this "David Sloan". I didn't know who he was and I couldn't care less. I hope the fans of him were just and p**sed off as I was about Van Damme, when he was dumped from the series. The unexciting presence of Satcha Mitchell led to this being a series of direct to video sequels, which he was happy to star in (being a no-name actor). To most of us he's simply making money by being in Van Damme's movies. He wouldn't even have got to be in those without Vann Damme, so don't you dare think of him as the Kickboxer actor. I suppose if David was killed off and it was revealed there was yet ANOTHER brother you'd call it cheesy. Well I found this too cheesy to contemplate. Like I said, this was a Kickboxer imitator, not a sequel. There is no such thing as a "David Sloane". Just Kurt and Eric who are still living it up in Thailand.
This is porn. Fight pictures are based on perversions, pure and simple. The most common are cloaked in revenge, so the setup has to be something so vile, so unfair that we applaud the violent comeuppance of the villain.
This is a completely formulaic picture, so we spend much time discovering how kind and mild is our hero. Then we encounter the evil things done to him and friends because of him. And finally we have justice.
It is too easy to criticize this particular film -- for these to work, they have to be bad in terms of acting and such. So let's go further and say that the genre itself is just the sort of vile offense against use that is depicted.
I'm a gentle soul. But the industry keeps throwing these things at me, and worse at the whole world:
-- many of whom think the US is first and foremost like this
-- many of whom think of themselves as honorable souls (who doesn't?) and worthy of violent retribution
Do we need this stuff in our lives?
The plot revolves around Kurt Sloan's younger brother David who owns a gym and teaches kick boxing in an attempt to stay out of the ring. Both Kurt and Eric from the original were killed by Tong Po after the match and in this film Tong Po's managers attempt to get David to fight Po in order for Po to regain his title. The climax is a great fight and the film even if it is low budget is entertaining.
What's the point if Jean-Claude Van Damme isn't in it? Sasha has just a fraction of Van Damme's charisma. It is simply a waste of time. It also lacks the exotic locations of the original and the fights are poorly shot. Besides all that, the story takes forever to get going. The crux of the drama is the return of Tong Po. That's the villain fans want to see. If Tong Po killed Kurt, I think that's enough reason for David to seek revenge. All the other stuff at the beginning is unnecessary. In fact, they should have Tong Po right at the start.
* * out of 4-(Fair)
It's not worth bothering with reliving much of the story because there isn't much to tell. Sloan(Mitchell) goes back to the UKA circuit to make $ for his decrepit gym to keep it open. Sloan wins his bout against enemy & current UKA champion Vargas(Hues), renounces the title belt, & announces his retirement again. Angered by his defeat, Vargas & his goons sneak into Sloan's gym, beat him up badly, & set fire to the building. Badly injured & financially strapped, Sloan endures a lengthy hospital stay. Once out of the hospital, Sloan finds a hotel room to recuperate & wallow in self-pity. A knock on the door presents Xian Chow, former Muay Thai trainer of brother Kurt Sloan. Chow offers to help train Sloan but he resists. Soon, Sloan & Chow work together with great results. Fellow kick boxer & gym rat Brian Wagner(Vince Murdocco) takes on corrupt fight manager Justin(Boyle) & fight czar Sanga(Tagawa) to turn pro. Wagner wins his first few fights, makes some money, & asks Sloan to come to his championship fight. Sloan agrees & takes Mrs. Wagner along to see him fight for the first time. Confident & arrogant, Wagner waits for his opponent to step to the ring. A last minute announcement calls for a replacement fighter who happens to be the ruthless Thailand Muay Thai champion Tong Po(Quissi). Tong Po punishes Wagner for several rounds before killing him in the ring. After a visit to the hospital with Wagner's mother, Sloan learns the truth about Tong Po & his brother's death in Thailand. Angry & in grief, Sloan vows to have revenge. When Sanga offers a challenge for a fight with Tong Po in the Ancient Way, Sloan accepts without reservation. The two men enter the ring, wrap their hands in rope & resin, dip their fists in broken glass, & prepare to fight to the death. The tall, muscular, & ruthless Tong Po beats up on Sloan for several rounds before finally displaying the Muay Thai fighting spirit needed to pound the Thai champion into a knockout. Revenge has been had by Sloan & he reopens his gym for the neighborhood roughs.
"Kickboxer 2" will not dazzle, uplift, or have you cheering for the hero. It is simply mindless entertainment, & I MEAN MINDLESS!!! This film will lurk in the depths of one of the worst martial arts action B-movies in film history. Just thought you should know that!!!
Financial problems eventually force Sloan to fight again in a new organization run by a crooked promoter (Peter Boyle). His surprising comeback ultimately attracts the attention of Tong Po who, having been disgraced by Sloan's older brothers, seeks to lure their younger sibling back into the ring.
David defeats opponent Neil Vargas (Matthias Hues) and retains his title.
But when Sloan announces his retirement after the bout, Po's manager Sanga (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) hires a group of thugs to burn down the gym, injuring Sloan and killing one of his young students.
While recovering in the hospital, Sloan is visited by Xian Chow (Dennis Chan), who trained his brother Kurt in Thailand. Though David initially wants nothing to do with him, he finally relents and allows Xian to nurse him back to health. Meanwhile, one of Sloan's most promising students (Vince Murdocco) has secured a championship bout and invites Sloan to watch the fight. However, his slated opponent is unexpectedly replaced by Tong Po, who brutalizes the young man and kills him in the ring. Now with no other recourse, Sloan is forced to accept Po's challenge....
Albert Pyun takes over as director. The fight sequences are competent enough, but he should have asked Jean-Claude Van Damme for some guidance.
I particularly like the song played in the opening credits: Suns will set and suns will rise, But I still see my brothers eyes, Suns will set and suns will rise, But I.... I'll always see my brothers eyes...
Or something like that! But this on on DVD and enjoy!!!
In essence, Tong Po didn't die at the end of the first film. He's back and seeking revenge, along with some loyalist Thais (a nation cast as the bad guys here, somewhat unusually). Mitchell, playing Van Damme's brother, ends up fighting Tong Po in a severe re-match, but before then there's lots of boring stuff about 'doing what's right', following one's path and all that nonsense. The first hour of the film is boring and the action sequences are few and far between; even they are mishandled. In one ring match, we watch as Mitchell beats the hell out of his opponent, with slow-motion blood sprays and the like; he's portrayed as a sadistic bully-boy, and this is the guy we're supposed to root for! Mitchell reaches a new low for an action hero in a genre already populated by guys cast for their brawn rather than brains.
Much of the blame for this film's failure must rest at the door of Albert Pyun, who really is one of the poorest directors in modern cinema. Absolutely all of the films I've seen that he's directed have been bad: I'm thinking CYBORG, TICKER, OMEGA DOOM, DOLLMAN, along with many others. In none of those films has the direction been good. Here, he shows himself to have no idea of pace or how to handle a decent fight scene, often shooting on the other side of the ropes in the ring battles! Sure, the blood and gore quotient is upped from the first movie, but it goes to show that that alone doesn't make a decent film.
In one, single respect does KICKBOXER 2 surpass the original, and that's in the casting. This film has an excellent cast. It's a shame they're not put to better use. The likes of Peter Boyle are here, along with Dennis Chan reprising his role from the first, even though he's utterly wasted. There's an early turn for Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as a stock bad guy, and man-mountain Matthias Hues pops up for a match. Michel Qissi also returns as the villainous Tong Po, but even though he looks the same he has none of the power or impact that his character had in the original; that goes to show how Pyun's direction sucks. In the end, this film is a wasted opportunity and time would be better spent watching the first film again rather than sitting through this mess.
Overall this movie is not all that bad, but really drags on at some points. It wants to have such a story in what should really be just a martial arts flick. There some aspects of the movie that are really annoying. The girl sidekick sucks and is a pain the entire movie. David's wanting to help out all the unfortunate gets old after while. And really David looks more like Brian in the movie that he looks towards what would have been his brother Van Damme in the first movie, I mean who cast this crap anyhow? The Acting is nothing to get excited about. Mitchell is Mitchell, nothing impressive and I had trouble seeing him out of his "dude" Cody role in Step by Step. Murdocco is another fighter turned actor who has been in some real turkeys, like Ring Of Fire, but again nothing that is total bad comes out of him and he's a good fighter. Tagawa is the man, he's evil in every film and is always a great lead bad guy, so I think he added to the movie well.
As for the fights. I was not that impressed with the rather cheap outfits and fight choreography. David is suppose to be poor, I know, but he wears like pajama pants into the ring to fight a guy twice his size wear tight blue spandex. What kickboxing match is this? IM a novice Kickboxing fan and believe me they don't wear that crap into the ring. And Matthias Hues who played Vargos would have owned Mitchell in the ring on any day. Lots of the fights are shown in slow motion, which isn't all that bad...somtimes. When Tong Po Fights Brian there are some really stupid scenes of Brian taking shots that don't even look like they land. Watch when Tong Po Throws the ref out of the ring with boxing gloves on, yet who ever through him out of the ring was bare handed.???? Cheap production. Even though Brian got killed and was a mess, who dumped all the blood all over his back, where did that come from? The fight at the end...typical. But it gets bloody and overall very fake, but it delivers violence so who cares. For some reason I kinda like this film, I think its 2nd in the series. I haven't seen 5 and 3 is the worst. So I'll give 5 out of 10 stars, I would have given it 6 had Mitchell knocked Brian Austin Greens teeth down his throat in his cameo scene as some wannabe tough kid from the hood. Brian Austin Green is a loser.
Sasha stars as the kind, caring and human David Sloan, the youngest and last surviving member of the Sloan brothers, sole owner of the gym that has been left in his care from his deceased brothers.
Throw in a loud mouthed, wise talking, street smart little girl named Jeanell, played with wonderful realism by actress Heather McComb, who hangs out with David, and you have the start of a great movie.
Sasha brings a more human touch to the movie than was evident previously and shows that even though the Sloans are forces to be reckoned with, they are just like everyone else, at least David is.
Matthias Hues as the gorgeous, larger than life kickboxing phenom Vargas is great as he always is in "heel" roles.
And of course you can't go wrong with Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Sanga, the major heavy in the movie and as ruthless as they come.
Peter Boyle did a nice job as the suave but ultimately too naive and trusting for his own good promoter, Justin.
Dennis Chan appears halfway through this movie as Xian Chow, Kurt's former trainer in Thailand who journeys to the US to help David train for the match of his life; an upcoming battle with Tong Po, played as only it can be by Michel Quissi.
Dennis Chan brings extraordinary realism to the part of Xian, the devoted and ever patient trainer who won't let David give up, no matter the odds and no matter the adversity he faces.
This is a great movie and I am proud to say that I own it. I highly recommend it.
Yes, it is a basic fight film, but it provides what its fans want with a modicum of style. I am in no way trying to claim that this is as good from a technical standpoint as any of the other films I've rated 6, but from an entertainment perspective you'll be surprised to find it's solid, if unspectacular fare. That assessment is from a viewer whose tastes are usually a little more refined.
If you practice martial arts, then Kickboxer 2 is a must for you, if you don't, it's a must for you also and maybe you'll start.
Of course, none other than Peter Boyle himself is on board as Maciah, a man who wants to turn men beating each other into a worldwide commodity. In that way, this movie predates UFC. To see Boyle standing side by side with fan favorite Matthias Hues (inexplicably playing a guy named "Neil Vargas") was a rare treat. Vargas' brand of spandex-based fighting was certainly of its time, and perhaps an effective intimidation tactic. I know if I saw a long-haired musclebound brute with aqua tights on, I'd run the other way. But part of Xian's training ritual for David Sloan is to have him wear a similarly-colored half-shirt while working out in the park, so maybe he's fighting fire with fire. Or aqua with aqua.
Even before Sloan meets Xian, he seems to have a cultured philosophical mind, but Mitchell's Keanu Reeves-like California Dude voice makes him seem like he's going to end every thought-provoking maxim with "...Dude". But Chan plays the Mr. Miyagi-like role endearingly enough, a mirror image of the suave but corrupt Sanga, played by regular face on the site, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. So we've got Sasha Mitchell, Peter Boyle, Matthias Hues, Dennis Chan, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Vince Murdocco...what could be missing? Of course, Brian Austin Green! He plays a classic 90's punk kid with a King Diamond shirt who, much like Thomas did to Jesus, doesn't believe in the awesomeness of David Sloan. This must be what Megan Fox finds so endearing about him. Last but not least is Michel Qissi as the strange-faced Tong Po. Who now is just an out-and-out murderer who has the outward appearance of a kickboxer. He's a serial killer who just uses kickboxing as his method of death. But as we'll (briefly) hear about in part 4, he does become a record producer. So there's that.
Kickboxer 2 is something of a mixed bag. The cast is good, but the Pyunniness is not. It's a rocky way to start off the parade of sequels, but it's not without some charm. It's a mainstay in many used VHS sales, so if the price is cheap enough, it's a viable addition to your collection.
So this is my introduction to the series.
I didn't find out for years I liked Jean Claude van Damme. And I was surprised this wasn't him. It looked like him. But it was actually Cody from "Step by Step"--and he wasn't a silly buffoon! David Sloane runs an inner-city gym, and he cares about helping kids who are less fortunate. And that's a problem. He can't afford to pay the bills. He might have to go back to fighting, and a tragedy pretty much decides he will. But he has a very capable teacher.
David's friend Brian wants to fight. And he does some things that are less than ethical.
I was surprised Sasha Mitchell was so good as a fighter--and not bad as an actor either. Now I saw two movies about boxing the same day, and Ving Rhames gave a far superior performance, but Mitchell is good enough.
The real standout performer is Dennis Chan as the man who gets David back in fighting shape.
Humberto Ortiz impressed me as a street kid with an attitude who David might be able to help. I would have been happier if the whole movie had been like the first few scenes, with the focus on David teaching the kids rather than fighting and corruption.
I didn't recognize Peter Boyle, not having ever seen an episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond", but it's just as well. He was not a nice man. And one of his goons was much worse.
Michel Qissi didn't have to say a word. He was a real bad boy in the ring. For those who say boxing isn't violent, you haven't seen boxing like this. THIS is violent.
It's not a masterpiece, but if you like fighting, you might like this.