Directed by: Darrell Roodt
Starring: John Barrett, Michael Quissi, Claudia Udy, Michelle Bestbier, Robert Whitehead, and Ted Le Plat
In this REAL sequel to American Kickboxer 1 (1990), “Quinn” (Barrett) retires from Punchfighting and lives a peaceful life with his beloved wife Carol (Udy). “Denard” (Qissi) is seemingly obsessed with taking on Quinn in one last match (don’t worry, we’re going to explain why the names are in quotes later in the review). Quinn refuses to fight, which upsets maniacal millionaire Dominique Le Braque (Whitehead), who stages fights. It angers him so much, he kills Quinn’s wife. Now distraught, Quinn hits the skids, living in a seedy motel and drinking himself to death. Preying on Quinn’s new vulnerability, Dominique invites Quinn to live at his palatial estate and train to get back into shape so he can fight and win a lot of money. Quinn agrees, not knowing they are Punchfighting matches...wait for it...TO THE DEATH! (In a slight twist on that tale, you don’t actually FIGHT to the death, if you lose the match, an evil ref just comes in and shoots you in the face.)
After a some plot padding, Quinn develops a relationship with Dominique’s wife Angelica (Bestbier), and the sinister Dominique doesn’t take very kindly to that. Will Quinn ever escape his clutches? Or will Quinn don his craziest Punchfighting Pants and fight his way out?
About the names being in quotes above, confusingly, even though there were characters BJ Quinn and Jacques Denard in American Kickboxer 1, Here, for some unknown reason, Barrett here is Rick Quinn and Qissi (a different actor) is some other Denard. Why this happened, we don’t know. Maybe Cannon demanded it.
We like John Barrett, but this movie never really rises above decent. Whitehead as the over-the-top baddie is like some kind of cross between Raul Julia and Tim Curry. He chews the scenery well. Rather than give a thumbs up or thumbs down as to whether the fighter will live, he delicately throws a rose. Now we know where the producers of The Bachelor get their ideas.
Le Braque even dresses in a Clockwork Orange-style getup. In another absurd device, the ring announcer is none other than a man in harlequin makeup reminiscent of The Joker (he even tells really bad jokes and tries to outdo Whitehead in the crazy sweepstakes). He’s truly one of the original Insane Clown Posse.
Willard the reporter who looks like Owen C. Wilson is back (Le Plat), but presumably it’s some OTHER Willard. Quinn trains for his Punchfighting matches in dress pants, but really, if you look objectively, the Punchfighting in this movie is not that great. Additionally, the plot suffers from all sorts of maladies, but mainly pacing issues, and the script should have gone through a few more drafts - there’s a good movie in here somewhere but it’s buried in a few layers of crud.
One of the better aspects of this movie, as we’ve seen so many times before, is the title song. The rap by Edward Jordan is a lot of fun. But really, the main flaw here is that the original Jacques Denard did not return. He really brought a lot to the table in the first film.
If you’re just itching to see the continuation of the saga of Quinn, Denard and Willard, by all means, seek this movie out - but as an example of an entirely cohesive film or an example of a great Punchfighter....this sadly isn’t really it.
Also check out our buddy Direct To Video Connoisseur's review!
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty