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It’s a good sign that you have faith in your movie when you start developing a sequel before the first one is even released. Sure, big boys like Marvel, DC, Lucasfilm, and others plan things out in advance all the time, but even a big movie like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn’t have a sequel greenlit until the first one became a hit. It’s an even riskier proposition for a smaller movie that’s on less sure footing, but that’s precisely the case with Kickboxer: Vengeance, the reboot of the 1989 Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle. A sequel is already in the works, and it’s bringing a very large Game of Thrones star along for the ride.
By very large, I mean physically very large. Hafthor Julius Björnsson, better known as the hulking mass of man named The Mountain on HBO’s hit fantasy series, is, according to Coming Soon, set to play the villain of Kickboxer: Retaliation, which is now in the pre-production process. Producer Rob Hickman cites what he calls the "staggering" early interest in the first film as the reason they are moving forward with the sequel.
And though he’s not a huge star, for a movie like this, one with a relatively low budget ($17 million) and a cult/niche following, having an actor like Björnsson on board doesn’t hurt. However, filming will have to wait until the 6’9", 386-pound behemoth finishes competing in the 2016 installment of the World’s Strongest Man.
Kickboxer: Vengeance is essentially a fairly straightforward retelling of the original story. Alan Moussi, who is best known as a stunt performer in movies like X-Men: Days of Future Past and Brick Mansion, plays the lead, Kurt Sloane. After his brother dies in Muay Thai match with the vicious Tong Po (played Guardians of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista, another massive dude), Kurt seeks out Master Durand (Jean-Claude Van Damme himself, now taking over the wise mentor role) to help him get revenge. Pretty clear-cut stuff, but just what the doctor ordered if you’re into gritty DTV action.
Check out the trailer.
Right now there aren’t a ton of details about the follow up, but with the title Kickboxer: Retaliation, perhaps this time around the other side is looking for retribution. Maybe Hafthor Julius Björnsson plays Tong Po’s brother out for some revenge of his own. Alan Moussi and Jean-Claude Van Damme are both reprising their roles, and the plot will reportedly see them pitted against a "syndicate of criminals." That’s a vague but, again for this type of movie, promising set up. As long as whatever plot there is serves to link up ample fight scenes, that’s all I really care about.
We don’t even know when we’re going to see Kickboxer: Vengeance yet, as it’s slated for a nebulous 2016 release. Kickboxer: Retaliation is set to start filming in May in Thailand, again, after Hafthor Julius Björnsson is done lifting a great many heavy things.