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Review: Action sequel ‘Kickboxer: Retaliation’ kicks, claws and scratches your itch for more

Alain Moussi in “KICKBOXER: RETALIATION.” Credit: Well Go USA Entertainment
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.

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.

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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

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Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Playing: Arena Sunset Cinelounge, Hollywood; also on VOD

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