I'm stupidly excited for the new Kickboxer movies. There are two coming, and they're, in some ways, coming full circle for the series. Some spoilers for the originals below, and quite a bit of rambling.
My appreciation for 2-4 might be partly sentimental. I first saw 2 and 3 when I was stationed on a tiny base in Cuba for 14+ months. The job was rough, and we couldn't leave base (because, well, Cuba). Maybe I just needed some of that simpler-time stuff from the 80s and 90s, some martial arts movies that made up a big part of my teen years, but I quite enjoyed them.
Kickboxer 4 was the first Kickboxer I saw, and it was on over-the-air TV somewhere in the mid or late 90s, late at night (12-2? 2-4?) in my old bedroom (which I sorely missed in GTMO, and sorely miss now!). Something about it stuck with me.
I saw Kickboxer 1 in Leavenworth. It was a somewhat happier time and my JCVD affinity was really kicking in. I was surprised at how much more lighthearted it was than 4. Between the name and that first experience (4 was dark and gritty), I just assumed...
Anyway, it's a western martial arts classic, and Van Damme at his prime (I absolutely love the similar-timeframe, similar-content Bloodsport [also in the process of being remade!] as well; Paul Hertzog did the soundtracks for both that and Kickboxer 1, and they're a fantastic blend of Asian influence and 80s synth.).
I picked up a collection GTMO, and then saw 2, 3, and 5. I really liked 1-4. I didn't care for Kurt and Eric being killed off, but David was a nice replacement, even if his introduction was a little silly: despite brotherhood being one of the main themes of Kickboxer 1, he was never mentioned!
I was also glad to see Xian reappear, at least for 2 and 3. It was nice continuity.
5... well, it starts off with David being killed of, and we had just spent three movies getting to know him! With all three Sloan brothers dead, it was a little disappointing. I've always liked Mark Dacascos (probably partly nostalgia speaking again, because my brother and I were big fans of the Double Dragon games, and we were, at around 9 and 12, respectively, quite happy with the movie at the time), but I didn't like it being a Kickboxer movie. No Sloans, no Tong Po... there's really no connection between 5 and the earlier four beyond David Sloan's death, so... you know... why bother killing him off?
Which brings us to the two upcoming ones: Kickboxer: City of Blood and Kickboxer: Vengeance. Between the two of them, they bring the series full circle.
Kickboxer: Vengeance is a remake of the first one. It brings back JCVD, but this time in the wise mentor role that Xian played the first time around. It's neat just to see JCVD back in a Kickboxer movie, even if he's no longer the main player. It looks to be the last out of the gate (somewhere in 2016), so the last Kickboxer movie we're going to get (as of this point) features the star of the original in a meta passing-the-torch sort of setting.
But in some ways, I'm more excited for City of Blood. Not as much is known about the storyline right now, except that it's a spiritual Kickboxer 6. The "Kickboxer" name may, or may not, be dropped, and David Sloan may, or may not, become "David Anderson" to avoid licensing issues. Many sources reference it as Kickboxer: City of Blood, maybe as just City of Blood, so who knows?
As you can guess by the returning Sloan/Anderson, Kickboxer 5's story is ignored, making it more of a Kickboxer 5. David is a UN peacekeeper tasked with protecting a young witness to some political murders, and, I'm guessing, will end up in a fighting tournament at some point.
Dennis Chan will return as Xian, and Sasha Mitchell as David, making another case of full-circle. Xian appeared in the original, like JCVD, and will again appear in the latest. This also means that between the two of them only Vengeance doesn't have either Chan or Mitchell, with both of them clocking four Kickboxer appearances each. As a nod to 5, Mark Dacascos may appear, likely as the villain.
To tally it up in terms of appearances:
Dennis Chan: 1, 2, 3, City of Blood.
Sasha Mitchell: 2, 3, 4, City of Blood.
Albert Pyun (director): 2, 4, City of Blood.
JCVD: 1, Vengeance.
Mark Dacascos: 5, City of Blood.
Michel Qissi: 1, 2. (His character, Tong Po, also appeared in 4, but played by a different actor.)
Basically, between the two new movies, all the main players, save Tong Po, make returns in some fashion, either as their original characters/roles (David, Xian, Pyun), or as new players (Dacascos and JCVD). If they could fit in Michel Qissi somewhere, it'd be almost perfect!
On that note, where's Haskell V. Anderson III? He survived the original unscathed and was never written off as dead (even Mylee, the love interest from the first one, couldn't escape that fate, despite there being no particularly good reason for her to be killed off!). So I take that back: bring back Michel Qissi AND Haskell V. Anderson III. I think I'd like to see Anderson in City of Blood playing his Kickboxer 1 character (Winston), and seeing how Tong Po escaped yet again in 4, I think a final showdown with David would make it perfect!
Here's hopin'. Stoked any way it's sliced (roundhoused?)!