Kickboxer 2: The Road Back (1991)
Menu Animation & Audio
|Year Of Production||1991|
|Running Time||86:40 (Case: 90)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Albert Pyun|
Beyond Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, mildly|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, cast montage in credits|
Films that star Jean-Claude Van Damme are rarely successful enough to be deemed worthy of sequels, but Kickboxer was one that sold enough tickets for the production company to consider going back. Van Damme, however, didn't seem to want a bar of this sequel, so they replaced with a martial arts star who can actually act - Sasha Mitchell. Now I know Mitchell is not in the same league as Russell Crowe or Michael Douglas, but he has the advantage of being able to emote effectively, and he is also able to be comedic (he was in Step By Step, for those who care).
One thing that Kickboxer and its sequels are known for is being basically one long excuse for drawn-out fighting sequences, and ones that seem pretty tame in comparison to what Asian directors have served up both in their homeland and when crossing over into the Hollywood system. Kickboxer 2: The Road Back is little different from its predecessor or any of its successors, although the combined efforts of Sasha Mitchell and Dennis Chan make it easier to sit through. As the stars of the original didn't want anything to do with this sequel, they have been effectively killed off, murdered by the psychotic Thai boxing champion of the original, Tong Po (Michel Qissi).
The story starts with a day in the Sloan gym, where David Sloan (Sasha Mitchell) is struggling to make ends meet while he is training all sorts of ruffians off the street. Incidentally, this is the film from which I remember Sasha Mitchell saying that when one swears so much, it loses its meaning. Anyway, one of David's older students is a young man named Brian Wagner (Vince Murdocco), who feels he is ready for the big time, but who lacks a certain something which in turn makes him vulnerable to the dishonest element. After a sparring match, David and Brian are visited by Justin Maciah (Peter Boyle), and one of his champions. Justin has created what he calls the United Kickboxing Association, and he is looking for worthy competitors to throw into the ring. David initially turns down the offer, but when financial troubles are catching up with him, his accountant (John Diehl) arranges for him to face one of Maciah's meatheads in the ring.
When David wins the contest and denounces the UKA as being all hype, however, the champion he has defeated takes some of his friends and proceeds to burn down David's gym. As David is recovering in the hospital and being retrained by Xian Chow (Dennis Chan in a show-stealing performance), Brian is doing his training the UKA way, and preparing for a fight with one of their paper champions. When Brian enters the ring, however, his opponent is replaced at the last second with a rather psychotic Thai boxer by the name of Tong Po, and thus comes to fruition a whole big plan to get the one remaining Sloan into the ring. As Sanga (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) explains, it is all about the Thai people regaining their honour in the ring, or some big load of codswallop like that.
This film had a lot of potential, and a lot of possibilities, but the fights that were choreographed so carefully are ruined in the editing process, where the camera seems to switch to a long shot every time we're about to see a kick land. Exactly how this version of the film was given an R rating in 1990 is beyond me, as there is very little to justify it outside of the rougher aspects of the Muay Thai style of kickboxing. Still, if you want an action film to while away eighty-seven minutes with, then this is a reasonable place to look.
When reviewing a Force Video disc, one is often torn between drawing comparisons to their earlier releases, such as the original Pan And Scan Dune, and later releases such as their special edition of Plan 9 From Outer Space. This release sits somewhere uncomfortably between the two.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. A good number of the problems with this transfer can be blamed upon this fact.
The sharpness of this transfer is acceptable, but it is nowhere near the standards we should expect of this medium. Some scenes, such as when David is met by Xian in his hotel room, are murky enough to bring back memories of the VHS version I remember viewing in the early 1990s. The shadow detail is good, but not great, and there does not appear to be any significant problem with low-level noise. Darker scenes appear grainy, and some sequences have dark patches that look more brown than black, but this appears to be inherent in the production.
The colours are never particularly satisfying, with blues and greens appearing to be washed out a lot of the time. Reds, blacks, and skin tones, however, were somewhat hyper-realistic, especially when shown in great quantities, the blood during kickboxing matches being especially bold. There are no composite artefacts in this transfer, however.
MPEG artefacts were not a problem in this transfer, with the average bitrate being well above what is needed to keep your average low-budget kickboxing film looking good. Film-to-video artefacts, unfortunately, are where this ride comes crashing down in a heap. There are several sequences and shots where the edge enhancement is so obvious that it is distracting even on an eighty centimetre television. The arm of the model holding up the Round card during one match at 27:24 has a particularly annoying jagged white halo around it, as does Peter Boyle's head at 9:16, and Sasha Mitchell's shoulders at 24:58. Then there is the aliasing - anything that can shimmer in this transfer does so, and I have nearly two pages worth of notes to testify to the fact. There are three especially bad instances where the entire frame appears to be shimmering, at 17:09, 19:10, and the worst one being in the hospital room at 33:36. The steel buckets at 72:48 are pretty bad too, and the entire text of the credits shimmers badly. Film artefacts are also present in the form of fairly sizeable scratches and spots on the picture, with a vertical line going through the frame, just to the left of centre, when David leaves the hospital at 39:55.
There are no subtitles available on this DVD. There is no layer change, either.
There is only one soundtrack on this DVD: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 2.0 with a bitrate of 448 kilobits per second.
The dialogue is as clear and easy to make out as I ever remember it being in this film. Some of the characters speak with thick Thai accents, and the added problem of the actors trying to impersonate the Thai manner of speech adds up to a few sentences in the film being a little hard to distinguish. Thankfully, there is no trouble understanding anything that Sasha Mitchell has to say. There were no problems with audio sync.
The music in this film is credited to Anthony Riparetti and James Saad. There are also a few contemporary numbers thrown in, some of which seriously date the film. The score music is actually one of the better aspects of the film, and very listenable.
The surround channels were uninvolved with this soundtrack.
The subwoofer also had the night off. It was especially missed, as it could have added something to the fight scenes.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is animated, and features Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. It is not 16x9 Enhanced.
This two minute and six second trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Searches on the most reliable sites for this information have led me to believe that there is no Region 1 equivalent for this DVD. There is, however, a German Region 2 version, which only runs for 79 minutes, and is presented with a Pan And Scan transfer to boot.
Kickboxer 2: The Road Back is a very B-grade film that wasted its potential with lousy editing of well-choreographed fight sequences. It will keep less fussy viewers entertained for eighty-seven minutes, but considering the leaps and bounds that Hollywood action films have made since 1990, this dated effort does not have a lot to commend it. It is worth watching for Sasha Mitchell riding roughshod over his predecessor in terms of acting ability, however.
The video transfer is very ordinary.
The audio transfer is competent.
There is one extra.
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-835|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|