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Review King of the Kickboxers a.k.a. No Retreat, No Surrender 4 (1990): Superior to Blood Brothers and on par with the first two in the franchise!

genre: martial arts, action

The No Retreat, No Surrender film series is a very unique one where each film is made by the same production team but where each film has it's own story and characters. They even came up with the idea to resurrect Bruce Lee to train the main character of the original. In this one they blatantly rip off Kickboxer. For the most part it's the same revenge story where here and there events play out a little differently.

First off all, Billy Blanks is certainly no Tong Po but as villains go he is pretty nasty. I like how they don't even bother to explain where he actually comes from. I am pretty sure he is not a native Thai and yet is respectful of some Thai traditions. I say some because like I said, he is pretty nasty. He has no qualms raping and killing people. But why a guy like him would follow orders from someone else is beyond me. Especially since the big boss is far from menacing and even makes jokes about Khan. Another thing they don't explain. In any case the film starts with Khan (Billy Blanks) killing Jake's brother after he has won some championship. Khan tells him that no foreigner is allowed to be champion. Are they seriously trying to sell Khan as a native? Come on. Jake also gets beaten up but is left alive. Ten years later we see Jake being a badass cop with very little regard to his colleagues and authority. He does things his own way and gets results. However his captain is tired of his shenanigans and sends him of on another mission in Thailand. At first Jake (Loren Avedon) refuses but then sees Khan in the snuff film he is examining and gets his rage all going. Before you know it Jake is in Thailand where like usual he does things his own way. But maybe it's me. What business does a New York detective have in Thailand? Sure Interpol requested it. So? He still would not have the legal authority or means to do anything. Of course I am aware that this plot element is just to move the story along. But it's a little lazy don't you think?

Then someone out of the blue aids him by referring him to a master who almost defeated Khan. Why would you help this obnoxious American who had insulted and beaten up your fellow students? Jake himself even asks him why he is helping out. Then he answers because his father was American too. This kind of reasoning is beyond me. I know, I know, it's to move the plot along. The master's name is Prang played by Keith Cooke Hirabayashi who you might have seen in China O' Brien (with Cynthia Rothrock). The dynamics between Prang and Jake are fun. It's when Loren Avedon is on his own that he tends to ham it up. Although somehow he is selling it and you do feel like Khan needs to be annihilated by Jake.

The action is top notch and a whole lot better than what Blood Brothers had to offer. The choreography is truly excellent and feels just as much as a Hong Kong flick as the first two in the franchise did. King of the Kickboxers is proof you make an entertaining film as long as you focus on the good stuff your audience is watching the film in the first place. Also this low budget affair is a masterpiece compared to reboot Kickboxer

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