Albert Pyun is the director hired to clean up other peoples’ partially shot messes, being cheap and quick, but with his own movies he’s given us gems like “Cyborg”, “Dollman”, all four “Nemesis” movies and a few of the “Kickboxer” sequels. His IMDB page compares him to Ed Wood – unusual sexual fetish that shines through in his films – check; rubbish movies – check; but Pyun is nowhere near as down-to-his-bones odd as Wood was.
He tries, though. Sasha Mitchell returns for a third film as David Sloane, and he’s in prison. What? Writing a letter to his wife Vicky gives us a swift recap of the first two movies (Zian, his trainer / sidekick, is written out of the timeline, and part 3 is ignored completely), and it turns out that Tong Po is an exceptionally sore loser. After killing JCVD off after part 1, then forcing David to fight in part 2 before getting his ass kicked yet again, Tong Po became a Mexican drug lord and had David framed for murder. Oh, but that’s not all – he then kidnapped Vicky, raped her and had her imprisoned on his compound – remember, all this is about “regaining honour”. This paragraph pretty much sums up Albert Pyun’s directing style.
So, David is offered a deal by the FBI – infiltrate Tong Po’s compound by entering his yearly $1,000,000 martial arts tournament, put a stop to things, and rescue Vicky. The subject of disguise is brought up, and David says he’s had some hard years since then and there’s no way Tong Po will recognise him. Dude, you’re his most hated enemy! And you look exactly the same! Sunglasses are not a disguise!
So, after kicking some ass he gets himself an invitation to Tong Po’s compound, and the film turns into “Enter The Dragon”, pretty much. But only if “Enter The Dragon” were made by a lunatic. Michel Qissi (Tong Po in parts 1 and 2) wasn’t brought back, and was replaced with Kamel Krifia – weirdly, both Qissi and Krifia were childhood friends of Jean-Claude Van Damme. His make up job in this is really hideous, though, and I was wondering if I’d missed a line of “burned in a fire” dialogue.
As well as makeup, I want to salute the sound effect people in this movie. While doing a kata before the fights, every movement seems to break the sound barrier and during them, there’s one groin kick in particular that sounds like a bomb went off.
Pyun’s movies certainly aren’t laid out like normal directors’. At the compound is, incredibly coincidentally, Lando, the kid brother of a former student of David’s who’s now a DEA agent. He gets the romance subplot and way more screentime than you’d expect from a supporting guy; so does Michele “Mouse” Krasnoo, a world champion martial artist, as Megan, one of the other competitors.
But the logic of it all is what we love about this guy’s movies. If David was in prison for murder, what was Tong Po’s plan with his wife? Keep her chained up forever? Also, the later rounds of the tournament are “to the death”, and all the people who choose to leave at that point get shot. Given that the winner still has to face Tong Po for the money, no-one has beaten him in 6 years, and your chances of death are pretty much 100%, who is going to these damn tournaments?
Add in a magnificently pointless three-way sex scene featuring people we don’t see at any other point in the movie (David hides near them while trying to sneak round the compound) where the women are naked but the guy contorts himself so you don’t see “anything”, and you’ve got yourself the weirdest of the “Kickboxer” series. It’s hilariously wretched – just see how one-sided the final fight is – even while being technically competent (heck, there are a few shots here and there I’d even describe as “good”).
Now onto part 5, with no involvement from Sasha Mitchell, Albert Pyun or Tong Po (either incarnation), which looks like some standalone Mark Dacascos film they renamed. Hurrah!
Rating: thumbs down