Most sequels in the American Martial Arts movie bubble don't really continue on from the original film, in nearly every single way. And because this a known fact, you would think we could give the genre a break right? Wrong! Apparently us viewers have such high standards for film that we cannot accept a terrible, cheesy, or absurd sequel. HOW DARE THESE FILMS BE MADE TO INSULT OUR SENSES. That isn't my opinion on the genre, but that is the general viewers opinion. Well to that I say FUCK high standards. Lower your standards, your intelligence levels, and give some films from this genre a chance. You lower the expectations, and you know what...YOU MAY BE ACTUALLY SURPRISED. I am a film optimist, I believe if it's entertaining despite the flaws, and it keeps you looking at that screen and it is definitely something you can see yourself watching again, then it's a success...That makes sense right? Not every film gets a crazy budget, especially if it's a sequel of a successful film which doesn't even have the main actor starring in it. If a film is memorable, and enjoyable shouldn't that be enough? Which brings me to this question...why the hell do people dislike 'Kickboxer 2: The Road Back'?
Now the run down is set a few years after the original 'Kickboxer'. Here we have David Sloane(Sasha Mitchell) who is struggling to keep the family afloat, but refuses to close it down because of the impact that he has on his students. He get's offered to fight in the ring again and initially says no but goes back into the ring and wins, which comes to the attention of a kickboxing manager called Sanga AKA Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. Sanga has his own fighter that he is ready to unleash in the ring against David Sloane's friend and student. Brian(Vince Murdocco). You may be thinking who is this mysterious fighter from Thailand which is going up against Brian, well I will give you a hint. He paralysed Eric Sloane, assaulted Mylee but got his ass beaten around the underground temple by Kurt Sloane and his helicopter kick...give up? TONG PO! Tong Po wants revenge on being humiliated the way he was back in Thailand all those years ago, so why not get revenge back on the little Sloane brother. Now I say that is a pretty awesome plot, simple, to the point and it has revenge on the mind, what's not to like?
Now firstly I will discuss my love for the song 'My Brothers Eyes' by Eric Barnett. This song I believe has meaning and has a cool sound and I think it fits in perfectly with the films story. You may laugh at my opinion and think how can a song like this from an American Martial Arts sequel be meaningful, well let me explain. The fact that David Sloane's two brothers Kurt and Eric are now dead, is something that still eats him up a little, and he also thinks that because the gym is failing financially that he has some how disappointed his brothers. David is a man of integrity and in some ways is a lot like Kurt more than Eric. Fighting is something that all the brothers were passionate about, so every day that he is training himself and others at the family gym, he is going to be reminded of the passion for the sport that he and his brothers had. I think it's a critical song, and yeah it might sound a little cheesy and dated, but the song still has the meaning. So if you have never seen it, check out the song at this link, it is quite amazing.
I really did enjoy Sasha Mithell's portrayal of David because like I previously stated he is a lot like Kurt, so he does have a more nurturing side and an honest quality to him, whereas Eric was very blunt, ignorant and quite full of himself. David cares for his students so much that he will let them train for free, and one of them who is homeless he lets sleep in the gym. David does have a lot of pride though, he doesn't like people knowing of the financial situation of the family gym, as well letting his brothers legacy affect him; in other words deep down he feels like the inferior brother. I am happy to announce that Uncle Xian from the original 'Kickboxer' is also back and he is still the wisecracking smart ass full of wisdom the second time around. I think it was cool that they managed to get him back for the sequel because I think we need that comedy and wisdom to infiltrate the dialogue and the mood. And of course it was ever so amazing to see Michel Qissi reprise his role as Bolo's evil long lost half-brother, Tong Po...Okay I know Bolo and Tong Po aren't related in any way but because they play such evil roles in 'Kickboxer' and 'Bloodsport' I figured hey they should be related. Again Po doesn't really say much in his dialogue, he is definitely a man of mystery well not so much a man of mystery but more of a man who kicks the absolute fuck out of people and just doesn't say much unless he feels like insulting you. I think it's clever keeping him relatively quiet in terms of the dialogue, because his eyes, body language and his overall awesome Muay Thai skills speak for him, and I know I wouldn't want to encounter him in a dark alleyway.
I think the storyline is great because I do love revenge stories, and I have found a lot of American Martial Art films and their sequels do have a lot of revenge they need to fulfil, and it is usually quite brutal, so that makes me extremely happy and fired up. I won't lie but the dialogue is a little bit cheesy, and at times gets a little preachy but hey sequels usually have their flaws, and that's pretty much it. The acting I think was great, because you had the seedy kickboxing managers and promoters and just all round bad guys who will do whatever it takes to get what they want. You want those kinda guys in these films because you always love it when they get their karma for being greedy, selfish assholes, please tell me you agree? I think at times this film does look a little dated especially if you watch it next to the original. The original stands on it's own and is just quality, and while the second is still an awesome film, it does lack a lot of the heart and drive the original had.
I say keep an open mind with this instalment, and enjoy it for what it is, no for what it isn't. And I know it's hard to not compare it to the original, but just try not to. I mean the original I found is grittier, darker and well it has Van Damme in it, you just can't beat that. But either way 'Kickboxer 2: The Road Back' stands up on it's own, and it is a guilty pleasure of mine, and I have to say I love the final fight, just hearing the noise of the blood as it drips onto the canvas is a sound I have not been able to get out of my head since I first saw this when I was a child. Lower those standards and expectations and grab some cherry coke, pizza and a couple of awesome buddies and watch this film. I think doing these things don't cloud your judgement when watching the film, but they let you experience it for what it is and enjoy it without prejudice.