Kickboxer 3: The Art Of War (1992)

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By the second “Kickboxer” sequel, Sasha Mitchell had visibly relaxed. The dedicated, sort of humourless character from part 2 has disappeared…actually, aside from his mission to save all the kids, he might as well be a different guy. No longer a hard-working gym owner, he’s now David Sloane, wisecracking international kickboxing superstar; and Zian, who was a hermit in part 1, is now his ring-second and general sidekick. Given that both films were made back-to-back, this indicates movie-making quality I would not have expected.

Brazil’s street kids are the issue here, and after being robbed by Marcos and Isabella, David and Zian end up befriending them; but we know that Isabella has a 100% chance of being kidnapped and sold into sex slavery by the guy who, coincidentally enough, is also the promoter of the kickboxing event. When she eventually does, it’s up to our two heroes and Marcos to kick a whole bunch of ass and then win the big fight.

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It’s an oddly laid out film. To ensure that David competes but loses, evil guy Frank kidnaps him and forces him to do dangerous backbreaking physical labour for a few days. In terms of successful plans, it’s right down there with tying James Bond to a table with a laser beam slowly moving towards him; and it takes so long! The movie just grinds to a halt at this point – it’s the sort of thing that’d normally be dealt with by a montage in 90 seconds or so.

Because kickboxing is apparently not exciting enough, we’re treated to a gun battle in the middle too. I liked it because it was about 5 minutes after there’d been a whole speech about how killing someone actually kills you a little bit – so seeing David’s cheeky grin seconds after kicking someone out of a window to their death is especially great.

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There’s lots of genuine Brazilian favela on display, and an interesting point is actually raised by Frank, as he’s about to lose everything by betting on the wrong guy at the end. He says, about the girls he kidnaps, that while they earn their keep, he treats them better than they’d be treated on the street. While he’s wrong – you know, being a sex slaver and all – the appalling state of Brazil’s street children, and how happy the “trainees” look when they’re not being chased, shot and killed, indicates that it’s not absolutely black-and-white. Their quest to save one girl, while noble, is also a drop in the ocean, as Frank correctly identifies too. What can you do in a situation like that? Perhaps the film did not intend to pose these questions, and just wanted a backdrop to the fighting, but it’s certainly more food for thought than I’ve ever had with the third volume of a martial arts movie franchise before.

There is a great last bit to the championship bout, where the two competitors go full pro wrestling and start brawling in the crowd with chairs, buckets and so on, and seeing the absolute and complete annihilation of the villain is, while perhaps a bit drawn-out (again), quite a change of pace from your average bullet to the head. Other than that, I can definitely say that this film happened, and that I like Sasha Mitchell, and that it’s fading very rapidly from my memory. It’s an interesting looking film – few Western movies film in the real favela – but an unforgivably slow one.

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Oh, at one point fairly early on, David stops one guy from killing another in the middle of the ring, and even gets in a few licks himself before the bad fighter is dragged away. Zian says wisely, “wrong time, wrong place”. Well, the time I can give him, but wrong place? He’s a kickboxer in the middle of a kickboxing ring!

Rating: thumbs down

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One thought on “Kickboxer 3: The Art Of War (1992)

  1. Pingback: The ISCFC vs. Martial Arts franchises |

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