Mary Poppins Returns
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All Critics (12)
| Top Critics (5)
| Fresh (11)
| Rotten (1)
A stylish and enjoyable fight flick with just enough tongue-in-cheek content to keep us smiling.
A very dumb, and very satisfying throwback to a simpler time when American action films were as predictable as they were formulaic.
A hysterically entertaining train wreck.
[A] slam-bang exercise in sequelitis.
Unlike the last movie, which stumbled when outside the ring, [the director] doesn't bog things down with too much plot about fraternal bonding, love interests, or anything that requires an emotion more complicated than punching someone's lights outs.
As it progresses, scene after scene in Retaliation are infused with this crazy little thing called "fun", and Moussi feels much more at home than he ever did in the first movie.
This film feels like watching a series of fight sequences that are loosely connected by a wafer thin plot.
Isn't trying to change the action movie game or shake up the martial arts sub-genre. It's just a simple, easy to digest film with a slew of incredible fight scenes.
The bar has been raised forKickboxer: Retaliation, this time directed by the previous film's writer/producer, Dimitri Logothetis, and it shatters the bar with a leaping Van Damme spin kick
Comes the closest to recapturing the wide-eyed, bone-crunching fun of the 1989 hit, inching away from darkness to reclaim the brand name with a lively offering of bodily harm.
Solid, exploitation movie fun.
This is a movie that not only justifies action sequels better than most, but also amps up the fun factor in every way.
The seventh movie in the [i]Kickboxer[/i] franchise, holy crap. And lets be honest with ourselves, the first was the best and didn't need expanding further, but here we are. This movie is a direct sequel to the last entry 'Kickboxer: Vengeance' which was itself pretty dire.
The Plot: Tong Po is dead, Eric Sloane was avenged, and Kurt (Alain Moussi) is now a professional mixed martial artist. After a fight Kurt is basically kidnapped and awakens to find himself back in sticky Thailand in prison. It seems he has been brought back to Thailand for the death of Tong Po. It also seems Thomas Tang Moore (Christopher Lambert), the man who controls the underground fighting competition where Kurt defeated Tong Po, wants Kurt to fight his new champion (the man who replaced the now dead Tong Po). Moore offers Kurt various deals to get him out of prison and fight but naturally Kurt refuses because he's an idiot. This of course leads to Moore kidnapping Kurt's wife along with other forms of intimidation yadda yadda yadda and Kurt agrees to fight. I think you know how this goes from here on.
Right so first off the baddie character of Moore has bribed the Thai police (and some US Marshal?) into dragging Kurt all the way back to Thailand and slinging him in prison. All this without any form of official intervention from anyone in America or Thailand?? I mean I'm sure Moore is wealthy and could bribe some Thai cops and bigwigs but somehow I doubt he could bribe that many people across two countries in order to extradite Sloane with no questions asked. The fact that Kurt is tasered in the US and only wakes up back in Thailand is just beyond ridiculous.
Whilst Sloane is in prison (held by Moore's bribes it seems) Moore actually offers him 1 million Dollars to fight his new champion! Aaand of course Kurt declines this rather excellent offer, because of course he does. Predictable cliche one, whilst in prison all the other inmates wanna fight Kurt. Of course Kurt defeats them all easily because all these guys are your typical undernourished looking Thai males. Predictable cliche two, whilst in prison Kurt makes friends with other inmates who just happen to be really good fighters (and they're cameos). This includes Mike Tyson, various real MMA fighters, and...footballer Ronaldinho?
Predictable cliche three, whilst in prison Kurt also stumbles across Master Durand (JCVD) again, because of course he does. It seems Master Durand is now training prisoners for some reason. Not sure why he would be allowed to do this but whatever. So of course he decides to help Kurt once again. One problem, he's now blind due to Moore's treatment. Luckily that's really convenient for all that Jedi-esque type fighting where you rely on your senses and spiritual side etc...
Predictable clic...oh for Gods sake there are just loads in here. Kurt's new inmate buddies help him train for the big fight once he agrees to it. So Tyson teaches him boxing, the other MMA fighters teach him...umm...more MMA. And Ronaldinho teaches him...dodging? By kicking footballs at him?? What??? What I don't get is Kurt is supposed to be this ultimate MMA fighter who already proved his worth and skills by killing Tong Po. So why does he need training from these bums in a Thai prison??
After all the obligatory prison set guff and a complete rip-off of the famous Bruce Lee 'Enter the Dragon' mirror sequence; we eventually get to the big showdown between Kurt and the new champion who is basically some massively overweight white guy. Sure he's big and wide, but he's also fat. The difference in this movie is that Moore and his scientists have been experimenting on the new champion with a combination of steroids and adrenaline making him über strong. So now not only does this final showdown look like a scene from a [i]Mortal Kombat[/i] movie complete with Lambert sitting on a throne in a dingy torch lit dungeon setting. The big villain Kurt must fight is some gigantic roided up monster who literally roars all the time.
This is the main problem with this movie, the big finale is essentially a remake of the classic finale from the first classic movie. Its not a scene for scene remake but they have clearly copied it visually with all the usual beats. But again there is one main difference with this movie, and again its not good. In this movie the bad guy does actually kill Sloane in the finale. Yes you read that right, Kurt Sloane is actually killed in the finale. But fret not because Kurt's kidnapped wife manages to bring him back from the dead with one of the adrenaline/steroid concoctions used by the baddies (despite her not being a doctor, but I guess he was dead so...what the hell). Kurt comes around, shakes off the fact he had just expired for around 10 minutes and goes on to win the fight. Merica!
So basically what I'm saying here is, this movie offers nothing new whatsoever. Its exactly the same spiel as almost everything else that has come before it and is literally a complete waste of time and money. This is the seventh movie in the franchise, what is the bloody point in redoing the same final showdown from the first movie??? The plot is so fecking mundane and basic, so many tropes Jesus! Van Damme wasn't required, he was more of a token to lure in fans as was Lambert. And not only that the fighting wasn't even that good! Yeah sure if you're into MMA then you may get a kick out of this (no pun intended) but in all honesty watching a real MMA fight would probably be better.
I think the issue here is thus. Back in the day with the original you had a young, somewhat mysterious, up and coming martial artist from Europe with a curious accent. You had Jean Claude Van Damme in his glistening prime. The genre was ripe for the era and Van Damme (along with other classic action stars) was simply at the right place in the right time. Those early flicks were just lighting in a bottle and I don't think you can recapture it. Plus these days there are so many martial artists/musclemen with rippling physiques, there's nothing special about it anymore.
The 22nd of this month was the first time, in a long ass time, that I watched two movies in the same day and, relatively, back to back. I remember back when I was in school, which was situated in front of a Blockbuster Video (for those of you old enough to remember those), I used to go to said Blockbuster Video and rent about 8 movies for the weekend. I watched one, with my aunt, immediately after getting home. Probably watched one myself later that day. Then, at night, me and my aunt would watch two movies back-to-back. And, honestly, looking back on it now, I really don't even know how we did that. What I mean by that is that it takes me so long to get through one movie now that I've never, seriously, given thought to even doing that again. Yesterday was the exception, thought it wasn't meant to be. I meant to watch Sharknado 5 on Monday night but, unfortunately, the power went out literally 2 minutes into the movie (at a quarter to 10 pm) and it came back at, around, 6 am. I suppose that's neither here nor there, just a bit of backstory, I guess. As far as this movie goes, honestly, I remember watching my fair share of Van Damme movies when I was a young boy. But, to be honest, I don't have as many memories of watching Kickboxer as much as I did of Bloodsport, which was one of those movies that I saw countless times on TV when I was a kid. I don't even know if I'd say that it was one of my favorite childhood movies, but it's just a movie that I saw a lot of. Kickboxer, on the other hand, I'm not as familiar with. What I do know is that this the sequel to the remake that came out in 2016. Remake which is, actually, still available on Netflix as we speak. Why I started with the sequel to the remake instead of the remake is beyond me, but it is what it is. Though, honestly, having seen this movie, watching the remake (while helpful) isn't essential to the plot. They catch you up on things fairly quickly and you never feel like you're out of the loop or confused with what's going on and why it's going on. Regardless, as far as these types of action movies are concerned, B-tier direct-to-video sequels, I haven't seen many of them. I do know the original Kickboxer had FOUR sequels, three of which were released directly to video. And, again, I've watched none of these movies. Honestly, while the may provide testosterone-fueled, macho cheesefest (where women are only damsels in distress), I'm just not that interested. Maybe this movie will inspire some sort of change in me and I'll start seeking out these low-budget direct-to-video 90s action flicks. Who knows? Having said that, and I know that this is wrong of me, but I came into this with very low expectations. I had low expectations, but an open mind, if that made sense. Because sometimes, some people, who go in with a certain expectation from a movie, have already made up their mind one way or the other. I don't like to do that, even if it happens from time to time, because I like to believe that I give movies a fair shot and I don't judge them based on any of my own thoughts prior to watching them. As far as this movie is concerned, I just wasn't expecting much. I wasn't expecting anything terrible, but I just didn't think this would amount to much. Well, would you color me surprised that this flick is actually, surprisingly, fairly decent and maybe even solid, depending on who you're talking to. Of course, it's not like the movie breaks new ground for action, and it was never meant to, but what it does it does well enough to where you might get some entertainment out of this. The narrative is predictable and formulaic. Sloane is kidnapped and placed into a Thai prison for murdering Tong Po (villain from the original and remake). The rich fight promoter that puts on these illegal underground fights to the death uses Sloane's imprisonment to lure him to, maybe, fighting Mongkut (this gigantic beast of a man) as he feels Sloane owes him one fight after killing Tong Po, his biggest attraction. Naturally Sloane, having had enough of this barbaric underground fight scene, declines. Eventually, Sloane agrees for one reason or another, I can't even remember. I just know that it happens after the arrival of Durand, his mentor from the remake (Van Damme). Or maybe it's before, I don't know. It doesn't matter. His wife, though, goes to Thailand to look for him and, naturally, she gets kidnapped by the bad guys, to give Sloane even more incentive to want to kick Monkgut's massive ass. It's made into a blood feud when Mongkut punches his wife's tit, caved it in apparently, and put her in a coma that she, almost immediately, recovers from. How dangerous can Mongkut be when he punches a woman that's five times smaller than he is and she recovers like it was nothing? Seriously, that's just kinda stupid. One of the only really stupid bits in the movie. It's like, fuck, now I wanna see Sloane's wife fight Mongkut, she probably stands a better chance. It's all very serviceable, as far as narrative is concerned. It maintains its focus on Sloane's training to defeat this giant of a man. There's very little in the way of subplots or anything that's not related to Sloane and his journey to fight Mongkut to the death. So I appreciate its focus on getting to where they need to go without any deviations. As far as fight scenes are concerned, they're, again, serviceable. It's not like there's Raid quality martial arts sequences here, but they're solid enough. There's a few that are edited together so it looks like it's one-take and those are, probably, the best of the film. Just how smoothly everything runs together, you don't really even notice any cuts. On the other hand, there's some transitions from scene to scene that are quite horrendous. You might be seeing a training session with Sloane and, quite literally, the next second, he'd be in a meeting with the fight promoter. It wasn't exactly the smoothest of edits and you have to wonder who had the skill to put together the "one-take" fight scenes, but not be able to smoothly transition from one scene to the other. It's quite something to see. The climactic fight scene between Sloane and Mongkut is highly entertaining. They do a great job at making the villain look as unstoppable as possible. They even, in front of Sloane and the crowd, inject the man full of steroids. I mean, how preposterously over-the-top, but it works. To quote Lil' Wayne, he is not a human being. It's just a fun scene and I don't really have much else to say about it. The acting is perfectly fine as well, but Alain Moussi is honestly a little bland and lacking in the facial expressions. He obviously wasn't cast for his acting talent, he just looks and acts the part of a kickboxer. I don't know what else I can say about this movie, I thought this was a very decent and acceptable action movie. I don't feel that it was a good movie, but it falls just short of that. If you want a solid B-tier action movie, then this is just what the doctor ordered. It's not gonna blow you away, but it'll keep you reasonably entertained, if you're willing to give it a shot.
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