The King of the Kickboxers (1991)

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Released 23-Feb-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Martial Arts Trailer-Seasonal Film Corp trailers
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 93:31
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Lucas Lowe
Seasonal Film Corp
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Loren Avedon
Richard Jaeckel
Don Stroud
Billy Blanks
Sherrie Rose
William Long Jr.
David Michael Sterling
Keith Cooke
Ong Soo Han
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI $12.95 Music Richard Yuen

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The King of the Kickboxers is one of a number of martial arts films from Producer Ng See Yuen, probably best known for the Jean-Claude van Damme vehicle No Retreat No Surrender. The King of the Kickboxers combines exotic locations, a basic revenge plot, indifferent acting, minor nudity, trite dialogue and impressive brutal bloody action sequences. The King of the Kickboxers is sometimes known as No Retreat No Surrender 4.

     After he wins a kickboxing tournament in Bangkok in 1981 Jake Donahue's brother is murdered by a vicious fighter named Khan (Billy Blanks) while Jake watches. Ten years later, Jake (Loren Avedon) is an undercover New York cop. He is seconded by Interpol to Thailand to infiltrate a "snuff" film production company run by The Boss (William Long Jr.); he accepts when he discovers that Khan is involved. In Bangkok Jake saves blonde American Molly (Sherrie Rose) from attackers. But he painfully discovers after being defeated easily by Thasi (Ong Soo Han) that his fighting skills will not be sufficient to beat Khan. So Jake travels into the jungle to meet Prang (Keith Cooke), the only man who came close to defeating Khan. After initial resistance, Prang agrees to train Jake and an extended training sequence ensues. When they believe Jake is ready to fight Khan they make contact with the film company through Mr McKinney (David Michael Sterling). But the Boss is not fooled; Molly and Prang are captured and on the movie set Jake must fight Khan to the death while the cameras roll, a fight that will decide whether Molly lives or dies.

     The King of the Kickboxers is not going to be admired for its deep and meaningful acting, characterisations, dialogue or insights into the human condition. Indeed, the acting is pedestrian, the characterisation non-existent, the dialogue trite ("pain does not exist"). But it is the action that is the point and in The King of the Kickboxers there are a range of fight sequences. Not all work: some were obviously filmed with a slower film speed and speeded up; some of the wire work is clumsy which breaks the flow of a sequence (for example at 85:38) and some of the editing is sloppy enough to make it clear that kicks miss by a long way. Yet there is a raw energy to the fights and some are very good including the final confrontation between Jake and Khan on a range of platforms that has excellent tension and pacing. Loren Avedon does what is required and in a small role Keith Cooke as the master Prang moves well in his fights. The film also earns its R rating for one sequence involving a hook. There is no denying, however, that in The King of the Kickboxers the fights are energetic, brutal, inventive and worth watching.

     The King of the Kickboxers combines exotic locations, a basic revenge plot, indifferent acting, minor nudity, trite dialogue and impressive brutal action sequences into an entertaining 93 minutes. Go with the flow and enjoy the action.

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Transfer Quality


    The King of the Kickboxers is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. I have not been able to find the original aspect ratio and while mostly the film looks OK it seems cropped in some scenes. It is not a great print. There are frequent artefacts and scratch marks throughout the film, aliasing on bricks, blinds and tile roofs (see, for example 12:55-58, 25:04-06), dirt marks (the pan at 6:30-33) and heavy grain in some scenes (50:20). Colour varies from washed out to good in some of the jungle scenes, blacks are poor and shadow detail indifferent.

There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The only audio option is English Dolby Digital 2.0. This is an acceptable track; the dialogue is clear, lip synchronisation good and the music and some sounds occur in the surrounds. There is however occasional hiss and one obvious crackle in the audio. The subwoofer is not used.

The music is not obtrusive and supports the action well.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



No Retreat No Surrender (3:18), No Retreat No Surrender - Raging Thunder (2:39), No Retreat No Surrender - Blood Brothers (3:20), King of the Kickboxers (2:59), King of the Kickboxers - American Shaolin (3:23). It should be noted that the two additional No Retreat No Surrender films have nothing to do with the original film and in fact the No Retreat No Surrender prefix does not appear in the trailer for either title. Likewise, the trailer for American Shaolin makes no reference to King of the Kickboxers. All trailers are 4x3 in varied condition with some dirt and grain.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    I have not been able to find a current release of King of the Kickboxers in Region 1. A Region 2 release seems to have similar specifications to this Region 4 release. Stick with Region 4.


    The King of the Kickboxers combines exotic locations, a basic revenge plot, indifferent acting, minor nudity, trite dialogue and impressive brutal action sequences into an entertaining 93 minutes. It has poor video, acceptable audio and only trailers as extras.

     The King of the Kickboxers is included in a 2 disc box set with American Shaolin: The King of the Kickboxers II.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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