How do you improve on a classic martial arts movie like Kickboxer? The answer is simple: Christopher Lambert.
A veteran of 85 movies and counting, Lambert is also closely associated with the Highlander and Mortal Kombat franchises so brings a certain pedigree to Kickboxer: Retaliation.
Part reboot and part sequel to the 2016 effort Kickboxer: Vengeance, former stunt-man-turned-action star Alain Moussi has taken over from Jean-Claude Van Damme as Kurt Sloan, though JCVD is still on hand as Master Durand, his mentor and trainer.
This time around Kurt finds himself behind bars in Thailand and facing off against the 6’9” Mongkut, played by Game of Thrones star Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson. Throw in appearances from Mike Tyson along with Ronaldinho and you have all the makings of a martial arts classic with Lambert playing against type as the film’s Machiavellian villain, Thomas Moore.
So what convinced Lambert to sign on for the role? “I liked the script, it was a fun ride,” he tells loaded. “I’ve also never played a bad guy before and thought I could bring a lot to the role. Kickboxer is a cult classic and I’ve reached a point in my career where I am picking the movies I want to do. Movies that excite me.”
Lambert tells us that his character, Moore, is “the kind of villain that toys with people and has fun doing it”. In this instance, he’s the mastermind who forces Sloan to go up against Mongkut or otherwise alternatively spend the rest of his life in prison, with an even worse fate awaiting his wife.
“He’s playing all the time. It’s all a game to him,” Lambert smiles, clearly revelling in his new role as the big bad That’s not the only thing that caught the Highlander icon’s eye either, with Lambert positively gushing when it comes to talking about the movie’s main selling point: the action.
“The fights are absolutely incredible,” he says. “These guys are really fighting each other. There are no wires or CGI. They are fighting. People getting thrown against walls, take after take. All the fights are staggering. So, for the fans, they are going to see the best fights they have ever seen in a Kickboxer movie – or any movie for that matter!”
Lambert wasn’t just impressed by the fights either – cameoing co-star Mike Tyson also made quite an impact on the man known to millions as Raiden.
“He brings a lot of emotions to the role,” Lambert says. “People assume that he’s this scary boxer but he’s a highly sensitive person. Meeting him was a special moment. He has a lot of positive energy. He’s not the guy you saw in all the tabloids. I was really happy to meet Mike Tyson. Not the boxer, but the human being.”
Not that Lambert isn’t without praise for his other co-star, Van Damme.
“I’ve known Jean-Claude for about 30 years. He’s a very gentle human being. This is the first time we have worked together. We have one quite memorable sword fight too.”
“He is the creator of the Kickboxer franchise. This feels like him passing on his legacy. It’s nice to bring something back from those past films and the memories of those original films People like reboots that mix the old with the new, like Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi. These guys are legends. To not bring them back is a stupid move.”
Speaking of which, how does Lambert feel about the prospect of a Highlander reboot? Would he want to be part of it? “I think it would be important that if they did a Highlander reboot something similar happened. I would love to be part of the fun but it’s up to whoever makes it.”
Is that his way of throwing his hat into the ring? “It all depends on the script. I would love to come back but I’m not waiting for their call – we’ll see what happens.”
And what about those Mortal Kombat rumours? Last time we spoke to Lambert he told us of grand plans for a time-bending sequel involving Raiden and the gang. Are those plans still a go?
“If there is another Mortal Kombat movie I will be in it. It’s difficult to say if it will happen though. There’s an issue over who owns the rights to the franchise. That’s why it’s difficult to know if it will happen. I’m not really in the loop on that.”
KICKBOXER: RETALIATION IS AVAILABLE NOW ON DIGITAL DOWNLOAD.
KICKBOXER: RETALIATION AND THE KICKBOXER BOX SET, WILL ALSO RELEASE ON DVD & BLU-RAY 5TH MARCH, COURTESY OF KALEIDOSCOPE HOME ENTERTAINMENT.