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Kickboxer: Vengeance – when his brother is killed in an underground deathmatch by the brutal Tong Po, a young fighter plots his revenge with the help of a master fighter (JCVD). I love martial arts movies and despite what you’ve read elsewhere this is a solid remake. First off; there’s shitloads of fighting – as in every five minutes, fight fight fight. There’s all the punches, all the kicks, a homoerotic rain fight, workmen walking through fights with panes of glass… there’s even a couple of street / marketplace fights that remind you of something like Ong Bak. Director John Stockwell clearly knows and respects the ancestry of this film; retaining key markers like the training montages, and bringing back key cast members; he even throws in some gratuitous boobs… however, most of the cheesier elements have been dropped and the story is more (Tong) po-faced. Just when you think they missed out the infamous car crash drunk dancing scene our new lead pays his respects with some truly horrendous Van Damme jivin’ during the end credits. Casting-wise, the new lead (Moussi) isn’t much of an actor, but what he lacks in charisma he makes up for with some high end fighting/action/stunt prowess; Batista doesn’t have a whole lot to do, although he’s a larger-than-life baddie; meanwhile JCVD steals all of his scenes with his cheeky acting chops, legendary moves, and unbelievably shredded torso. My only real niggle was the weirdly flashy subtitles clearly aimed at people who don’t read subtitles!. There’s a lot of misplaced nostalgia for the original Kickboxer: it’s ultra-80s, it hasn’t aged well, didn’t actually contain much fighting or action, and was basically a showcase for JCVDs moves. Kickboxer Vengeance however is a worthwhile and respectful remake that’s short on acting but crammed full of action. A sturdy modern martial arts movie.

Score: 7/10

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Tokyo Tribe Buppa Nana Seino, Ryōta Satō, Junsuke Daitō, Takuya Ishida, Yui Ichikawa, Mika Kano, Shoko Nakagawa, Shōta Someta, Denden, Yōsuke Kubozuka, Riki Takeuchi, Bernard Ackah, Yoshihiro Takayama, Arata Matsuura, Panda UnitedTokyo Tribe (AKA Tokyo Tribe2, トウキョウ トライブ トゥー, Tōkyō Toraibu Tū): near future Tokyo is divided into sections ruled by street gangs; but war is about to breakout when one gang tries to take over. Just when you think you’ve seen everything from Japan they throw out a West Side Story style film, acted out almost entirely though musical rap battles – a Hip-HOpera! It’s a sweet idea to begin with, but at two hours long it’s stretched to the limit; the continually repeated drum breaks become grating, and forcing the lines to rhyme means the dialogue feels clunky in parts – although it could be lost in translation. Also, because modern music videos have massive production, parts of this look a bit cheap in comparison. The set and character designs are impressive, epic sprawls of graffiti’d urban decay, futuristic nightclubs, and a grand dining room. Not that this needed it, but the manga origins give this licence to be crazy with some hammy acting (Buppa), big haircuts, robo-mecha babes… classic Japan! The action is well executed, and the large-scale finale battle is particularly impressive. It feels like the director knew that the rap-battles would only be novel for so long (it doesn’t help that the narrator / central character is uncharismatic) so he throws up something risqué every 5 mins or so to perk you up; gratuitous nudity and fondling, or provocative and controversial dialogue. From the director of Love Exposure and Cold Fish, this couldn’t be more different – but it’s an even more ambitious, unique, and admirable feat than those.

Score: 5/10

Tokyo Tribe Gang Leaders Nana Seino, Ryōta Satō, Junsuke Daitō, Takuya Ishida, Yui Ichikawa, Mika Kano, Shoko Nakagawa, Shōta Someta, Denden, Yōsuke Kubozuka, Riki Takeuchi, Bernard Ackah, Yoshihiro Takayama, Arata Matsuura, PandaTokyo Tribe Mika Kano Nana Seino, Ryōta Satō, Junsuke Daitō, Takuya Ishida, Yui Ichikawa, Mika Kano, Shoko Nakagawa, Shōta Someta, Denden, Yōsuke Kubozuka, Riki Takeuchi, Bernard Ackah, Yoshihiro Takayama, Arata Matsuura,Tokyo Tribe Gira Gira Prostitutes Dominatrix Whip Nana Seino, Ryōta Satō, Junsuke Daitō, Takuya Ishida, Yui Ichikawa, Mika Kano, Shoko Nakagawa, Shōta Someta, Denden, Yōsuke Kubozuka, Riki Takeuchi, Bernard Ackah, Yoshihiro Takaya
Tokyo Tribe Poster Nana Seino, Ryōta Satō, Junsuke Daitō, Takuya Ishida, Yui Ichikawa, Mika Kano, Shoko Nakagawa, Shōta Someta, Denden, Yōsuke Kubozuka, Riki Takeuchi, Bernard Ackah, Yoshihiro Takayama, Arata Matsuura, Panda Unite