Kickboxing Academy -1997
You know I love those 80s and 90s American-made Martial art movies, they were made on tight budgets and were turned out by the bucket load.
But most had one thing in common, they had good to excellent martial arts choreography, usually because many of the stars were properly trained, Martial artists.
Even the Karate Kid films of the 80s had some good martial arts in them, even though watered down. But those films did have a decent budget behind them as they were all cinema blockbusters.
Herewith Kickboxing Academy, also known as Teen Boxer in some regions we have a film similar in tone to the Karate Kid films. The story is even similar in that it revolves around a rivalry between two martial art factions.
This time it's two opposing martial art schools situated on the same street.
One is run by female Master June Hong, who was adopted by an Asian Martial arts Master and has carried on his legacy after his passing.
On the opposite side of the street is the Fatel Combat School run by loudmouth Captain Tarbeck who abuses his students to win by any means, he even has a Cobra statue on his desk, maybe in tribute to Cobra Kai.
It even goes to the point where the hero of the day is a student who has given up Martial arts because he came close to killing someone in a competition.
This guy's name is Danny, maybe in tribute to Daniel Laruso.
The film leads up to a tournament between the two schools arranged by the local landlord who wants to close Master June's dojo by staging a competition so that if her club loses she will lose her lease on her building.
It's the typical underdog story of a ragtag band of students who must go up against aggressive foes in the ring as well as deal with threats, Vandalism, and more in this teen-rated drama.
But any familiarities with Karate Kid end here s this film is clearly done on the smallest budget possible.
There's very little variation in locations for the film with most action taking place in one of three places.
The biggest problem with this film is the complete voidness of actual martial artists in the film.
Or at least anybody who can actually pretend to be one.
The two stars who play the Masters of the story are pretty much useless in the field. Though Donna Barnes does have some nimbleness and stance at some points and moves well enough for a couple of scenes probably since she has done Yoga and made instructional videos on the art it's still not enough.
The character of Tarbeck is completely useless in the role and plays the whole movie for laughs, you wouldn't believe this actor has done stuntwork...
Now considering that this was made at the tail end of the Martial arts filmmaking craze in the States I would have thought it would have been better in actual casting.
Of all the cast the actor who plays Danny does show off some nice kicks, but it could have been a stunt double as the character has long hair and this makes it easy to double someone when you can't see their face in action.
The finale of the film is the only place you see anything really martial arts orientated when the Fatel Combat club brings on a substitution in the form of a huge kicker who looks like he could do some damage, but it was all over so soon there wasn't much going on...
All the other cast members are mainly kids, and I know the film is aimed at kids so maybe I shouldn't be so harsh.
No, Wait! Before the final match, there is a demo of some Martial artists for the film's audience. So yes there was maybe a Martial artist in the film, he was about five years old and he was the best performer in the whole film and was on for about fifteen seconds.
Kickboxing academy plays like a soap opera with poor production values and has about fifteen seconds of real martial arts in the whole film which is at the end by a five-year-old boy who's just an extra.
You can miss this film on Amazon Prime unless you want to spend 90 minutes waiting for fifteen seconds of action.
Kickboxing Academy truly makes Karate Kid look like Ip Man.
Viewed on: Amazon Prime Video
Review Date: 22-05-2022
Review By: Sertes Nake
Kickboxing Academy makes The Karate Kid look like Ip Man
Director: Richard Gabai
Writer: Richard Gabai