Kickboxer 5: Redemption (1995)- * *1\2
Directed by: Kristine Peterson
Starring: Mark Dacascos, Geoff Meed, and James Ryan
When an evil former kickboxer from South Africa named Mr. Negaal (Ryan) decides to form his own kickboxing association, it puts the entire kickboxing world in turmoil. With a mostly-inexplicable burning, seething hatred against all the other associations, the ruthless Negaal demands that all the best fighters join his group - or die. This hits home for Matt Reeves (Dacascos), a fighter with a heart of gold. It seems that the Negaal organization has senselessly killed off David Sloan, the man audiences had come to know and love in the prior sequels. So, of course, Reeves travels to South Africa to get justice. Along the way he meets fellow fighter Croft (Meed) and the two men finally go after Negaal. Much like if you turn in your bottles and cans at the bottle return, they're looking for REDEMPTION.
Kickboxer 5 has some good things going for it. First and foremost is Mark Dacascos in the lead, who is very likable. That goes a long way, especially when facing off a very bad, "boo-hiss" baddie like Negaal, who is very well-played in Billy Drago-esque fashion by James Ryan. So right there we have two things that a lot of movies of this ilk don't have - a good good guy and a bad bad guy.
Dacascos shows he has some great and very acrobatic fighting moves, and Ryan shows range after being the hero in Kill or Be Killed (1976) and Kill and Kill Again (1981). Other characters of note include Reeves's mentor and old salt Chalky, not to be confused with Rocky's Mickey or Hercules in New York's Pretzie. Reeves's sidekick Croft looks like a more bulked-up Vanilla Ice, and Negaal's henchman is a dead ringer for Christopher McDonald. Naturally, there's a fight in a warehouse, which is a movie highlight, and there's a decent amount of local South African color.
So that's all good, but even with its very fair 87-minute running time, things start to drag at times and the pacing is all over the place. One minute you're having a grand old time, the next it's slow as molasses. Still, it's an improvement over director Petersen's prior film to this, the disappointing The Hard Truth (1994). At least here, there are moments of action and excitement. And a training sequence that features very intensive neck exercises. Don't worry, they're very important.
Sure, the plot - especially as it relates to former characters Kurt Sloan, David Sloan, or Tong Po - doesn't make much sense, but, hey, it's the fourth DTV sequel to Kickboxer, so whaddaya want? When looked at in that light, it's a bit better than it has any right to be.
Despite some of the slowdowns, we recommend Kickboxer 5, especially to fans of the series. It's better than the latter-day sequels, if nothing else.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty