The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The King of the Kickboxers (1990)

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My friend Kenner at Movies in the Attic has been on me about this one for a while, and when I did Tough and Deadly starring Billy Blanks a couple weeks ago, he put on a full-court press, hitting me with e-mails containing YouTube and Amazon links letting me know all the myriad ways I could experience this gem. I finally got a hold of it and made it happen on my own.

The King of the Kickboxers is about this undercover cop in New York who's always getting into trouble and living life by the seat of his tight acid wash jeans. Anyway, the chief wants to get rid of him for a little while, and sends him to Thailand to work on a snuff film case. It's not what you think: American fighters are being duped into acting in action films where they're really killed, and the killer is Billy Blanks. Our hero remembers Blanks, because Blanks killed his brother ten years before when they were in Thailand and the brother won a kickboxing tournament. Anyway, when our hero gets there, he finds out he's not ready yet, and luckily the Native American from China O'Brien is willing to give him a hand. Can our hero defy the odds and take down Blanks?

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I don't know where to begin. First off, it's awesome. It starts with this title graphic that looks like an SNK Neo-Geo video game, then moves into some of the most poorly choreographed kickboxing in a ring you'll ever see. Just when you think this is a sack of asscrack, the kickboxer and his little brother (who grows up to be our hero) are attacked by Billy Blanks and his boys. Blanks then proceeds to blow up a golf cart with machine gun fire, letting us know that this is the official start of the film. It only gets more amazing from there. Jerry Trimble has (unfortunately) a small part as a two-sweet mulleted drug dealer, and our hero takes him and his goons down, just carrying over the energy from the Blanks scene before it. The action is stellar, the martial arts some of the best you'll see, and the acting and plot, though woeful, only enhance the experience, as opposed to detracting from it.

Billy Blanks as a baddie martial artist is great. I'm not exaggerating when I say he's up there with Michel Qissi as Tong Po or Bolo Yeung as anything. This is key to any great bad action film, as the baddie must make us detest him enough, yet at the same time respect his fighting skills and fear him. If our hero isn't facing an enormous challenge, or we aren't rooting for him either, the film isn't fun, and that's what we're in this for, to have fun. On top of all this, the end fight between he and our hero did a great job of paying us back for our investment, as it was worthy of Blanks's baddie and the work our hero put in in montage time to defeat him.

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If I have one complaint though, it was how little Jerry Trimble there was. I know he was just getting started in the film industry, but still. The mullet was amazing, and the martial arts were tight. You know a movie is good when they can have a talent like Trimble in it for only one scene, and still be as awesome as The King of the Kickboxers was. Other people you may recognize were Ong Soo Han, who, like Billy Blanks, has starred in an action film with Rowdy Roddy Piper; Sherrie Rose as the love interest; and Don Stroud as our hero's contact in Thailand. Again, a great cast that just enhanced a great film.

Mr. Kenner remarked, and I agreed with him, that the late Richard Jaekel as the police captain was one of the best we've seen in a role like that. Whether you agree with us or not, what's interesting to note here is that we're remarking on an actor's job playing the police captain in a bad action movie versus other actors we've seen do the same part. We've seen that many bad action films that we're examining the art of the police chief. I'll have you know, though, that I passed up a used DVD copy of Guns and Lipstick at my local record store last night because they wanted $8 for it. I might be a self-professed connoisseur, but I'm not crazy.

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I imagine the picture above has already told you where I'm going with this last paragraph. Loren Avedon, our hero, is shown here sporting... a Fanny Pack! Unlike David Bradley's similar fashion disaster in Cyborg Cop, though, King of the Kickboxers was a solid enough movie to transcend something so atrocious. Still, even if the point of the fanny pack was to have Avedon's undercover character come off as a naive dork looking for a fight, the tacky shirt and white pants were sufficient. The Fanny Pack is an abomination, and I can't let even a film as great as this one off the hook for such a felonious transgression.

To give you an idea of how awesome this movie is, I captured 12 images of it (which you can find on the image page), and that was me showing restraint. There might be another 20 to 30 other scenes that'll make you laugh, make you pump your fist, or just make you nod your head in understanding that what you got here is good. Find it on YouTube, buy it on Amazon, or scoop it a local used retailer. Whatever you gotta do, make it happen. You won't be disappointed.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102217/

12 comments:

  1. Awesome stuff...Though I think we can give Avedon merely a citation because he wore such very briefly to look like a dopey tourist, David Bradley on the other hand actually fought with it on and wore such through out.

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  2. Yes, as I said, it wasn't as egregious a violation, but it was a violation nonetheless. The shirt and pants were sufficient.

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  3. Actually I just read that people wear fannypacks in foreign countries to prevent pickpockets, so maybe that's a factor, it's something all toruists tend to do, because it's much harder to pickpocket a fannypack then a wallet in one's pocket. I don't know though, it looks pretty gay to me.

    Also you're gonna love No Retreat No Surrender 2 which has Loren Avedon with Cynthia Rothrock and Matthias Hues. And No Retreat No Surrender 3 which has Loren Avedon and Joseph Campanella.

    However that's for another day...and unforuntately you'll have to download it because while we can extended versions of White Chicks we can't movies that are both better and funnier.

    I think my favorite part of this movie was the "LET THE GIRL GOOOOOO!" Priceless.

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  4. I remember my mom told us back in the early 90s, as we were getting ready for a trip to Florida, that pickpockets would cut the band on a Fanny Pack and swipe it in one motion, and so we should be careful. I, of coure, didn't care, because I wasn't going to be rocking one, but it shows that nothing is a sure thing.

    We could go on for days about why White Chicks gets all the love, and No Retreat No Surrender 2 gets the short end of the stick, but alas, this is the lot we've drawn in life. Sure, it would be easier to give up, buy White Chicks, and go "Man, that's hilarious!", but we soldier on, fighting the good fight. No one ever said it was easy, but we like that... it makes us who we are.

    Yeah, that line was amazing. There was so much rich creamy goodness, I could probably write two blogs on King of the Kickboxers.

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  5. This looks awesome. I will be sure to seek it out. Side note: In Australia 'Fanny Packs' are called 'Bum Bags'. 'Fanny' has a WHOLLLLE other meaning out here.

    So my local shop has a No Retreat, No Surrender box set with like 5 movies in it. Should I get it? The transfers look like they will be shite, but should I care about that?

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  6. I have no idea why this came to mind so quickly, but the Native American from China O'Brien is Keith Cooke. He played Reptile in Mortal Kombat and played Sub Zero in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

    I guess it only sprang to mind because he was such a bad ass in China O'Brien...

    I wonder if Heatseeker is any good.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Cooke

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  7. Heatseeker wasn't very good at all. Very boring, not only was it disappointing for the way it wasted Cooke, but it also wasted Thom Mathews and Gary Daniels. It was a rip off of Rocky IV, Robot Jox and Kickboxer. Indeed the worst part of it was from Albert Pyun who made Cyborg, Kickboxer 2, Kickboxer 4 and Nemesis so Heatseeker SHOULD'VE BEEN BETTER.

    As for the No Retreat No Surrender series, I'm not sure, it depends on the price. I'd probably pay 17 dollars for all 5, mainly for 2-5, the first one is pretty terrible regardless of the Van Damme factor. I mean it's unintentionally hilarious but other than that.

    Meanwhile back to King Of The Kickboxers, I just read a harsh review for this from Videohound, accusing this film of being racist. ("Pretty racist at times")I don't really see it, I mean if the bad guy is black (and the only character) one gets the idea that Blanks was a fill in for Bolo Yeung or Matthias Hues (To which Blanks brought it) Ergo the main bad guys were white and I don't see the racism.

    Anyway this is in my opinion one of the all time martial arts greats from the 90s. Indeed the whole fight sequences are awesome, I mean this even holds its own against Jackie Chan films and such. Like I said, I could as well write why I love this movie as much as I do. Indeed the fact Loren Avedon didn't do more is a tragedy.

    However disappoingly you're changing Snakeeater II to Thursday, in place of the the ho-hum Mach 2, which frankly means I have to wait longer to read such review. Oh well, at least you started off with the best of the best today.

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  8. I've heard that other definition of Fanny. "Mooshy" has a very different definition in Germany, and it makes things very interesting when American tourists pick at their food and call it "mooshy". I love false cognates.

    I plan on doing Heatseeker after I get through the chunk of Daniels films available on Netflix, just because it's easier that way. As far as the No Retreat No Surrender boxset, I would say base it on what they're charging. If it's money you won't be upset with having lost if they suck, go for it. I would go lower than Kenner's mark personally, and say no more than $10 for the set.

    As far as Snake Eater 2, I swapped that with Mach 2 because I haven't had a chance to watch it, and my rule is I never do these posts anymore from memory alone, especially Snake Eater 2, which I barely remember. It's been a hectic last three or four days, and I haven't gotten anywhere near the amount of work done on anything that I've wanted to, but Snake Eater 2 will get there eventually, ie Thursday.

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  9. Well I finally picked this up along with four others in a No Retreat, No Surrender box set (NRNS, Raging Thunder, Blood Brothers, King of the Kickboxers and American Shaolin). I skipped straight to this one today and boy was this a riot! Plot copy and pasted from JCVD's Kickboxer but who cares, this was funnier - except that it didn't have a drunken bar dance. It even had the training scene in the same old city ruins that JCVD did.

    Billy Blanks was awesome; he can't act for shit (at least at the time), knows it, and so just thrashes people and makes hilarious faces. Great fun.

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  10. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and that box set sounds awesome!

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  11. Hey again.

    Just reviewed American Shaolin: King Of The Kickboxers II!

    Check it out!

    Still got to get Kick of The Kickboxers 1. Got to have my Billy Blanks fix!

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  12. The No Retreat, No Surrender box set I spoke of before is now on sale at the Australian chain JB Hi Fi for only $12.98. Not only that, it is part of a buy 2 get 1 free promotion - so if you find two other movies you want this set is free.

    Shop online or in one their stores. They might deliver internationally, I'm not sure.

    http://www.jbhifionline.com.au/dvd/dvd-genres/action-adventure/no-retreat-no-surrender-anthology/283085

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