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Action sequel 'Kickboxer: Retaliation' kicks, claws and scratches your itch for more

Action sequel 'Kickboxer: Retaliation' kicks, claws and scratches your itch for more
Alain Moussi in the movie "Kickboxer: Retaliation." (Well Go USA Entertainment)

Mixed martial arts fans awaiting another chapter in the "Kickboxer" movie series can rest easy: "Kickboxer: Retaliation" has arrived in all its brutal, lunkheaded glory to scratch that particular itch.

This sequel to 2016's "Kickboxer: Vengeance" — a reboot of the 1989 Jean-Claude Van Damme hit "Kickboxer" (which spawned four sequels in the 1990s) — is essentially an overlong excuse to showcase an endless string of fight sequences. Scenes are either preludes to fights, preparations for fights or the fights themselves.

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It all makes for dizzying, bone-cracking, sound effects-heavy battles, most of which involve Kurt Sloane (Alain Moussi), a hunky MMA champ who finds himself wrongly imprisoned in a Thailand jail for the death of a previous fight challenger and at the mercy of an underworld gangster (Christopher Lambert).

But when Kurt agrees to face off against the monstrous, drug-induced, 400-pound Mongkut ("Game of Thrones'" Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) in an underground "death match," he's sprung from prison and reunited with now-blind martial arts master Durand (Van Damme, in Belgian Mr. Miyagi mode) to train for the final showdown.

A relentless, often ridiculous spectacle of whatever-it-takes combat between Kurt and Mongkut finishes off this slam-bang exercise in sequelitis.

Director Dimitri Logothetis, again scripting with his "Kickboxer: Vengeance" co-writer James McGrath, barrels through the chockablock action with requisite energy. But dialogue and performances (including Mike Tyson as Kurt's prison mate), are often laughably subpar.

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‘Kickboxer: Retaliation’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Playing: Arena Sunset Cinelounge, Hollywood; also on VOD

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