Kickboxer: Vengeance Blu-ray Review
Would've been more fun with Van Damme in the lead
A pedestrian remake with the only glimmer of talent ironically coming from Jean-Claude Van Damme himself.Kickboxer: Vengeance doesn't even make sense as a title (given that the original film was about vengeance, so spelling it out really isn't necessary) but, frustratingly, could have made sense as a reboot / start of a new franchise, if they'd done it right. They either could have used a lead actor who had even a modicum of charisma (understandably, actual acting skills are optional, but - as Van Damme showed first time around - you need to have some star qualities). Or they could have used the exact same cast here, but made the story a direct sequel, with Van Damme's ageing kick-boxer now training students - including his own son perhaps - and forced to seek revenge when one of them dies in the ring. At least then there would be room for the new cast, but still someone with charisma in the lead.As it is, this is a lacklustre, largely pointless affair. The story is basically a retread, with an added dimension of a love story and cop investigation going off in the background. The extremely vacant Alain Moussi plays the vengeance-seeking brother of (the late) Darren Shahlavi's underground fighter, who dies in a fierce tournament against Dave Bautista's man-beast. With Gina Carano's fighting talents wasted in the bit role of a corrupt fight organiser, and only Van Damme showing any kind of energy in his swapped role as the mentor (although, frustratingly, his dubbed lines just further highlight the cracks in the piece), this is uninspired remaking at its worst. Given the impressiveness of Van Damme's relatively recent, extremely low budget Universal Soldier sequels, it's a shame this didn't turn out better.
Picture QualityKickboxer: Vengeance hits Region B-locked UK Blu-ray complete with a solid 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 widescreen. It does the job, offering up a clean and clear image throughout, although given the unremarkable content, the workmanship-like presentation doesn't exactly stand out.
It's a solid video presentation but it doesn't exactly stand out
The digitally shot feature picks up all of the detail in the Thai locations - given that trademark sickly yellow hue at night - and all of the muscle and sinew and blood of the brutal bouts, holding strong during the darker sequences but boasting little style; instead trading in 'natural' shots of the environment, and running hotter during the fight scenes. Making the most of its limited budget and locale, Vengeance gets a solid but far from exceptional presentation which boasts few flaws but also few highlights.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also a decent if unexceptional accompaniment, picking up mostly during the fight sequences, where the arenas and crowds come to life, and allow the surrounds to engulf you in the furore.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with the video and audio; there's just nothing to get excited about
Dialogue takes a distinct back-seat to the rest of the elements on the track although the fact that the feature isn't exactly wall-to-wall fight sequences does leave large swathes of fairy pedestrian aural material. A few bustling streets and car noises attempt to maintain momentum, as does the generic score, which only fleetingly showcases a hint of organic originality, but it's a pretty limited effort until the next fight sequence.
ExtrasA near bare-bones release boasting no more than a fluffy Making-of Featurette and Trailer.
Blu-ray VerdictThis is uninspired remaking at its worst
The UK Blu-ray release of Kickboxer: Vengeance does a solid - if largely unexceptional job - at presenting this low-budget, lacklustre remake, which should make fans happy, but even ardent fans of both Van Damme and the original film should consider this a rental/Netflix effort at best. Who knows, maybe the proposed sequel will improve things. Although it seems improbable because logically it would be hard to make a follow up that's more lazy, uninspired and derivative.
You can buy Kickboxer: Vengeance on Blu-ray here
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £11.99
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.