CONTAINS SPOILERS AND A BRIEF REFERENCE TO SUN TZU
It's been a while since I watched either of the first two films in this action franchise, but as far as I can remember it goes something like this. Along with the fantastically violent Bloodsport, the first Kickboxer was probably Jean-Claude Van Damme's breakout film, in which he underwent extensive training for the climactic tournament sequence where he spectacularly beat the tar out of someone or other in the final reel. In Kickboxer 2, Van Damme didn’t actually show up, as his character was dead (and briefly played by Emmanuel Kervyn, the genius auteur behind the Belgian splatter epic Rabid Grannies and apparently nothing else), so his brother, played by Sasha Mitchell off Dallas, went out for revenge (probably) and became world champion.
Kickboxer III: The Art Of War sees the return of Sasha Mitchell, this time in Rio to take part in a charity kickboxing exhibition and tournament. By chance he takes under his wing an allegedly cute orphan and his cuter older sister; the sister is promptly kidnapped by the fight promoter for white slavery purposes. Can Mitchell defend his world title, rescue the girl and sort out the villains?
The numerous fight scenes are certainly violent enough to at least temporarily distract attention from the fact that the plot is a load of old twine and the villain’s actions make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Why does he train Mitchell so hard when the idea is to persuade him to lose the fight? What kickboxing technique is enhanced by being dragged helplessly behind a speedboat? And what kind of moron knowingly and deliberately abducts a friend of the world kickboxing champion anyway? Still, none of that really matters as every five minutes or so Mitchell gets to repeatedly punch someone in the face and/or throw them through a window and/or fire a submachine gun at them, and they’re really the only decent bits of the film. I suppose I’d better see Kickboxer 4 sometime.