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The Original Kickboxer Saga (1989-1994) - Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sasha Mitchell, Mark Dacascos

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This past Saturday on El Rey Network, they aired all five installments of the original Kickboxer saga, that began with Jean-Claude Van Damme's 1989 film then followed by Sasha Mitchell's three sequels as little brother David Sloane, and ending it with Mark Dacascos' Matt Reeves avenging David and another friend in The Redemption: Kickboxer 5.

September 8 marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the original Kickboxer



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The Kickboxers


Kurt Sloane (Jean-Claude Van Damme)


David Sloane (Sasha Mitchell)


Matt Reeves (Mark Dacascos)

A tale of two Tong Pos


Mohammed "Michel" Qissi as the original Tong Po 


Kamel Krifa as Tong Po in Kickboxer 4: The Aggressor

Both Qissi and Krifa appeared in the two released Kickboxer reboots along with JCVD himself. Qissi cameo'd in Vengeance as a prisoner while Krifa played O'Keefe, Thomas Moore's right hand man in Retaliation.


Dennis Chan as Xian Chow. He would go on to play the character in the first three films. Rumor has it that Tony Jaa was originally to have played the character in the reboot but when he didn't sign, that was when Van Damme came back to the franchise as the newly named "Durand". 

Kickboxer 2 was one of the first two screenplays for David S. Goyer. The other? Death Warrant, which starred Van Damme. To bring a more realistic approach to kickboxing, former champions Jimmy Nickerson and Benny "The Jet" Urquidez were hired as the film's stunt coordinators and fight choreographers. Urquidez trained taekwondo black belt Sasha Mitchell for the film. Mitchell would continue to train with Urquidez as well as Israeli-born Muay Thai fighter Shuki Ron (who worked at the now-closed Jet Center with Urquidez at the time), who would not only choreograph Kickboxer 3 and Kickboxer 4, but would actually make appearances in them. 

In Kickboxer 3, Ron is seen as David's training partner in the Brazil exhibition sequence. In Kickboxer 4, Ron played the fighter who David Sloane faced after his release from prison with a group of bikers surrounding the fighters.


For Kickboxer 5: The Redemption, Mark Dacascos choreographed his own fight sequences and left Burton Richardson, a renowned Jeet Kune Do, BJJ, Silat, Muay Thai, Escrima, and African stickfighting expert, to choreograph the fights he was not directly involved in (including stuntman Denney Pierce's ring fight, James Ryan vs. future Academy Award winning director Gavin Hood, and Geoff Meed's fights). Richardson himself appears as the ill-fated businessman Jack, who falls when Negaal strikes him with a double palm to the neck. Richardson now lives in Hawaii and runs a JKD academy there. Richardson also appeared as the fighter Thomas in Kickboxer 4.


Geoff Meed is also a martial artist and this still shot from Kickboxer 5 comes from a deleted training scene involving his character, Paul Croft, an Afrikaner seeking redemption for himself by teaming up with Dacascos' Matt Reeves. One of Meed's martial arts teachers was Ron Thomas, who played Bobby in the original Karate Kid films. Meed and Dacascos would reunite years later for an Asylum rip-off of a certain Will Smith movie, I Am Omega (which Meed also co-wrote).


A former kickboxing champion, Ian Jacklin took of the role of Kickboxer 3's bad boy fighter Eric Martine. Like many other kickboxing champions, Jacklin progressed well into films, usually playing villains with a few exceptions (Expert Weapon and Death Match). He retired from films in the late 90's and began work as a documentary filmmaker. He is a champion in another way these days as he helps to seek alternative methods of cancer research. http://www.ianjacklin.com/


Dennis Alexio was a former champion kickboxer who scored the role of Eric Sloane, who was crippled by Tong Po in the original film. Unlike his fellow kickboxers who transitioned to the screens, Alexio continued to dominate the sport until his retirement in 1999. Sadly, Alexio's life took a turn for the worse when in 2016, he was charged and found guilty 28 counts of tax fraud, theft, and money laundering. He is currently serving a 15-year sentence in federal prison.

Edited by AlbertV

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Martial arts film fans will know James Ryan for his role as Steve Hunt in Kill or Be Killed and Steve Chase in Kill and Kill Again. The South African actor studied karate under the legendary karateka Stan Schmidt for the original 1977 karate action film. Judging from what we see in Kickboxer 5: The Redemption, Ryan kept up with his training over the years, appearing in many local productions in various genres. If I remember right, @Mike Leeder had mentioned that Ryan had a dance background, which enabled him to do karate.


Playing the German kickboxing champion who faced off against Negaal in The Redemption is Gavin Hood. Hood would be seen in another martial arts film, American Kickboxer 1, as the accidental victim of Ken, a partygoer who attempted to break a fight between B.J. Quinn (John Barrett) and Jacques Denard (Brad Morris) only to fall to a lethal punch by Barrett, which sets up the film's events. Today, Hood is more known as a prolific director. His film Tsotsi won the Best Foreign Film Award at the Academy Awards in 2006. He would go on to direct X-Men Origins: Wolverine and has directed Ender's GameEye in the Sky, and the recently released Official Secrets


Brad Thornton has many years of martial arts experience, starting with Shotokan Karate and then delving into Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Eskrima, Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido and Jeet Kune Do. He would play Lando Smith, David Sloane's ally and DEA contact in Kickboxer 4: The Aggressor. Brad has continued his film career, including small roles in the underrated drama The Sensei but today, he's K2 aand K4 director Albert Pyun's go-to guy for his recent films Interstellar Civil War and Badass Angels and Demons.


Michele 'Mouse' Krasnoo was a world forms and weapons champion when she was cast as Megan Laurence, a young brash fighter who was part of Tong Po's tournament in Kickboxer 4. Her first film appearance was actually as a karate student in the opening scene of No Retreat, No Surrender as it was her father Bernie's Sherman Oaks Karate dojo where the scene was filmed. She holds a 5th degree black belt in Tang Soo Do, 1st degree in Shorin-Ryu, 1st degree in Tae Kwon Do and a black sash in Wushu. Today, she is the founder an aerobic-martial arts hybrid called "Kick Butt" Kickboxing. 


Edited by AlbertV

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