What a great day for martial arts movies fans. Jet Li’s The One celebrates 10th Anniversary and The King of The Kickboxers celebrate 21th Anniversaty today. This movie is full of great martial artists such as Loren Avedon, Billy Blanks, Keith Cooke and Jerry Trimble. Film is also known as Karate Tiger 4 or No Retreat, No Surrender 4. Movie was produced and writen by Keith W. Strandberg.
Plot: Jake Donahue and his older brother Sean are in Thailand. Jake’s brother is fighting for the kickboxing championship of Thailand and wins his bout. Jake and Sean leave the arena victorious and are soon attacked by Khan and his henchmen. Khan takes Sean on in a fight and subsequently kills him. He then attacks Jake and leaves him scarred for life. Ten years later, Jake is a police officer, fighting crime in New York city. Jake is given a special assignment by his commanding officer Captain O’Day (played by Richard Jaeckel). His Captain tells him that there are filmmakers in Thailand who kill the actors on the set of their films. Jake is to travel to Thailand to stop them.
When it comes to early 1990′s B-movie actioners, Loren Avedon was definitely a name to look out for. After being discovered by Roy Horan and Ng See-Yuen, he was cast in No Retreat, No Surrender 2 and 3. This film would mark Avedon’s final film with Hong Kong-based Seasonal Film Corporation and to put it nicely, he went out with a major bang.
When Jake is on an undercover mission in NYC to nail a drug dealer, the dealer is played by kickboxing champion Jerry Trimble. Also you can notice Ong Soo-Han who gained fame in the B-movie circuit as the prison guard Demon in the Bloodsport 2 opposite Daniel Bernhardt. One of the victims of Khan played by Bruce Fontaine, who became one of the most prolific fighters during the “gwailo” bad guy boom of Hong Kong cinema.
Action choreography made by Tony Leung Siu-Hung and his team. The fight at Prang’s house and a flashback sequence would be Keith Hirabayashi’s only fight scenes, but his fight at house is the best in the movie and I wonder why producers gave to Keith only once chance to shine in Heatseeker alongside Gary Daniels.
The finale of the The King of The Kickboxers is truly an underrated fight classic, pitting Loren Avedon and Billy Blanks, decked out in Thai costumes in the middle of a bamboo booby-trapped ring. Despite very little wirework, the film showcased the martial arts skills of both martial artists to a tee. This marks some of Leung’s best action choreography in the martial arts department.
The U.S. cut of the film trims a graphically violent scene where Fontaine’s Dan Handel gets suspicious while shooting his movie, only to see a dead prostitute and after getting obliterated by Khan, gets impaled with a hook to his throat and hung. In the U.S. version, after Dan is thrashed, it cuts to Dan being hung.
The King of The Kickboxers is clearly one of the most underrated martial arts movies to come out in 1990′s and it is all thanks to the Hong Kong-style choreography and the skills of Loren Avedon, Billy Blanks, and Keith Cooke Hirabayashi.