Kickboxer: Retaliation is the sequel to the remake of the late-eighties action movie that wasn't ever really needed to begin with, but nevertheless, we are still saddled with it. The first film, Kickboxer: Vengeance was an egregiously dull movie with constant action sequences that are connected by the thinnest of movie plots, the acting was varied, and the romantic subplot is very rushed and nonexistent. This sequel is a little bit better, but that's really not saying much.
On the plus side, being a martial arts movie it's crammed with many fight scenes and, to a certain extent, it kind of delivers on that front. It's solidly choreographed, and the scenes are diverse, so not all of them feel repetitive of one another. It's clear that the makers of this movie were trying to give each sequence its own uniqueness, like the finale where our main protagonist takes on the Mountain from Game of Thrones and you see this contrast with the martial artist against the gigantic muscle-bound monstrosity. That's one style/type of fight, and yet there's also two different long fight scenes that look as though they were done in a single take, so this movie does offer some variety. The actors involved aren't the best actors in the world, but they are passable enough with Christopher Lambert hamming it up as a criminal mastermind.
Those elements do help add some flavour to spice things up, but even those elements aren't enough to make this movie any more than just average. There's way too much speeding up and slowing down during the fight sequences (this movie must've been Snydered!), there's some pretty bad green screen effects scattered throughout, and the story is so cliché-riddled with so many tropes included that have been done to death a bajillion times, and those tired tropes and hokey dialogue got in the way of bonding with the characters so you just don't end up caring about any of them despite the characters going through some tough scenarios during this movie. The romantic subplot still feels underdeveloped, and despite the obviously gorgeous Sara Malakul Lane trying her hardest, her character gets lost in the grand scheme of things just like in the first film. Oh, and the very beginning of this movie involves our couple suddenly dancing a tango on a train before a fight scene breaks out. Boy, that was weird.
In the end, Kickboxer: Retaliation is a slightly better movie than the first one in that it's more consistent, but even then this film feels like watching a series of fight sequences that are loosely connected by a wafer thin plot. If you are a martial arts fan then you might get some enjoyment value out of it, but as a movie-viewing experience this is still lacking in that department. Best advice: just rent it.
KICKBOXER: RETALIATION / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: DIMITRI LOGOTHETIS / SCREENPLAY: DIMITRI LOGOTHETIS, JIM MCGRATH / STARRING: ALAIN MOUSSI, CHRISTOPHER LAMBERT, JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME, MIKE TYSON, SARA MALAKUL LANE, HAFÞÓR JÚLÍUS BJÖRNSSON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW