Plot: David Sloan (Sasha Mitchell) is a world class kickboxer, but he refuses to test his skills in tournaments, despite the incredible payoffs that would be involved if he competed at that level. He is haunted by the loss of his two brothers, both whom were killed in connection to high stakes, fight to the death tournaments in Thailand, with the notorious Tong Po (Michel Qissi) involved. David prefers to use his talents to teach others and focuses on wayward youth in his neighborhood, to help the kids learn discipline and find some purpose. But when hard times arrive and his gym faces closure, he takes a fight and easily wins, then once again steps back from competition. This doesn’t well with the promoters who want to profit from his skills, so they plot to lure him back and ensure he is taught a lesson.
Entertainment Value: This is a solid, fun martial arts movie, but it is a low rent take on the original Kickboxer, down to Jean-Claude Van Damme being killed off between movies, rather than in the sequel. While Van Damme is dismissed without a proper sendoff, we are given Sasha Mitchell as one of the most hip, chill martial artists ever and Michel Qissi is back in action. The narrative is similar to Kickboxer and countless other martial arts epics, as David is pushed to use his combat skills even though he just wants to chillax and blindfold himself around children. So a little weirder perhaps, overall though this follows the reluctant warrior trope in most ways, though there is less emphasis on the training process this time around. The movie is pretty straight ahead and traditional, which is odd since Albert Pyun directs, though he lets loose in the finale with some odd choices. The pace is a little slow and the action is sparse, but I don’t think the movie feels slow and it holds your interest, even in exposition bursts. I wouldn’t rate Kickboxer 2 as a great movie, even by 90s action cheese standards, but it does what the genre needs to do and has some fun moments, so fans of martial arts cinema should have some fun here.
As I said before, we lose Van Damme, but we gain Sasha Mitchell, likely best known by most as the guy from Step by Step who lived in the van. For those who didn’t follow his action movie career, Mitchell is a competent martial arts star and he has a natural feel in this kind of material, so he isn’t a bad lead at all. He handles the action scenes with ease and has some real charm, even in this kind of cheeseball role. So he performs well, but since he is taking the place of an action icon like Van Damme, he’s bound to catch more heat than he should. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is fine as one of the main villains, but he just isn’t given much to chew on. I wish he had gone more over the top and had some wild lines, to spice up the fun a little. Michel Qissi has a much smaller presence this time around, but is a most welcome return player. The cast also includes Peter Boyle, Matthias Hues, Dennis Chan, and of course, Brian Austin Green.