Van Damme's Kickboxer gets reboot
A BOX-OFFICE hit when it was released in 1989, Jean-Claude Van Damme's martial-arts action drama Kickboxer went on to become a cult franchise, though subsequent productions didn't star the Belgian actor.
Now, more than two decades later, the franchise is returning to Thailand in a remake titled Kickboxer: Vengeance, with Van Damme playing a major role.
The film crew flew to Bangkok last month to start filming and held a press conference to discuss the project. Unfortunately, Van Damme was a no-show, due to a late night on set and a sore throat.
The film has undergone several crew changes since it was originally planned.
Dimitri Logothetis, who co-wrote the script, has taken over as director from John Stockwell, who in turn took over from Hong Kong film-maker and actor Stephen Fung.
Likewise, action superstar Phanom "Tony Jaa" Yeerum, who was originally cast as a muay thai master, was forced to withdraw because of scheduling conflicts and Van Damme stepped into the role.
Logothetis describes his Kickboxer as a reboot rather than a remake or sequel, reasoning that the movie is set in the present and tells a different story from the original.
"We wanted to bring it into the modern day, while still taking elements from the original Kickboxer. It was an authentic and cutting-edge film when it was released, so we need to make it authentic now," says the director, who did not reveal the plot of the new film.
The original Kickboxer follows Kurt Sloan, who learns muay thai to avenge his brother's death at the hands of the lethal Tong Po.
Van Damme's original role as Sloan is being played by Alain Moussi, a stunt performer whose credits include X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Pacific Rim and White House Down. Kickboxer: Vengeance marks his debut as an actor.
World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler Dave Bautista - who starred as superhero Drax in last year's Guardians Of The Galaxy - plays Tong Po, a role for which he is perfect, according to Logothetis, because of his physique and muay thai ability.
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre - who appeared as Batroc in last year's Captain America: The Winter Soldier - also stars, along with former mixed-martial-artist Gina Carano and United States-based Thai-English actress Sara Malakul Lane.
Malakul Lane, who has been living and working in Hollywood for the past seven years, says: "What I like about this character is she a strong woman, a cop, not just eye candy."
The movie is slated for release next year in the US.
THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK