Directed by: Jean-Claude Van Damme
Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Roger Moore, James Remar, Janet Gunn, Abdel Quissi, Louis Mandylor, Aki Aleong, and Jack McGee
Set in the 1920's, Chris Dubois (Van Damme) is a street performer who wears clown makeup, a funny hat, and walks on stilts for a living. Adventure finds him when he ends up a stowaway on a boat heading to mysterious Muay Thai Island. There he learns martial arts, and, later in Tibet, meets the charming Lord Dobbs (Moore) and his assistant Smythe (McGee). It is around this time that Chris seeks to be involved in Ghan Geng, a secret underground fighting tournament. The winner gets a huge golden dragon, so Dobbs has a stake in Chris winning, as he wants the Dragon.
Fighters are invited from all over the world , and America is represented by boxer Maxie Devine (Remar). Chris must take his place in the tournament and defeat the sinister Khan (Quissi) to win it all. Also, there's some mild romance with the prerequisite female reporter Carrie Newton (Gunn).
Van Damme does a solid, professional job with his directional debut. Having co-written the film with Bloodsport (1988) dude Frank Dux, you pretty much know what to expect - but this movie is rated PG-13, so it was clearly trying to bring the Punchfighting genre some mainstream acceptance. With its slick Hollywood look and booming, sweeping score by Randy Edelman, the final product is perfect for 13-year olds, presumably its target demographic.
Interestingly, the movie is a period piece, and plays like a prequel to Bloodsport. Instead of The Kumite, It's Ghan Geng. Van Damme tries on a number of personas from "Old Man Van Damme" to "Van Damme The Clown" and many things in between. The presence of Roger Moore adds class and respectability to the proceedings, and James Remar of Quiet Cool (1986) fame stands out as Devine. He's always worth seeing. Janet Gunn from Night Of The Running Man (1995) and The Sweeper (1996) is the eye candy but not much else.
It's important to remember this was when video games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter were at the peak of their popularity. So when the Ghan Geng section of the movie begins (pretty much the last half) - the plot just STOPS. It's just one fighter from one country facing off against another fighter from another country. It gets repetitive and pretty numbing after awhile. Other Punchfighters don't do this.
They vary the Punchfighting scenes with other plot-based stuff. Not so here. Plus the fact the movie is kind of on the long side doesn't help matters. What The Quest should have been is an 80 minute R-rated Punchfighter. Simply cutting the length but adding more violence would have helped immensely. But they weren't going for that audience, unfortunately.
The Quest is more of a big "adventure" film where characters are seeking a "lost city" and many countries and time periods are represented. This might be a good way to start younger viewers on a career of watching Van Damme movies\action movies\Punchfighters but only Van Damme or perhaps Roger Moore completists need apply.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett