1991 / Director. Albert Pyun. Movie #10
How do you possibly follow up a sleeper hit like KICKBOXER, which cemented Jean Claud Van Damme as a household name and became an overnight sensation on home video? I guess we need to ask Albert Pyun because he managed the impossible... he delivered not only a worthy sequel but also a better one. With a script from a then relatively unknown David S Goyer, the elephant in the room (i.e. lack of Van Damme) was addressed swiftly. His character, Kurt Sloan, is killed off straight away by his opponent from the first film and this murder sets up a new storyline for the sequel to pursue. Back in America his younger brother, David, is struggling to maintain the family business and is presented with an offer to fight the infamous Tong Po. The money would dig him out of debt and the chance to avenge his brother's death would be a bonus. With Kurt's old mentor and trainer on board to help prepare him for the fight, the course is set for an action packed drama that brings the Kickboxer franchise into a fresh new realm. While much of its story replicates the original formula, the new setting and character dynamics make it an entirely different movie. The cast is great too with Sasha Mitchell stepping into some huge shoes and forging a new legacy. What a discovery. He might have been discovered a few years earlier by Paul Morrissey but it was Pyun who put him on the map. David Sloan is a career defining character, which he went on to reprise in a further 2 sequels. Returning cast members Michael Qissi and Dennis Chan keep the franchise credibly connected to the original and the legendary Peter Boyle brings an added note of respectability. I love KICKBOXER 2. I think that it's wildly undervalued and would recommend seeing it again and reevaluating it some 20+ years on from its release.