Take away the flying feet and AMERICAN KICKBOXER 1 could be that dull, dreadful Wallace Beery wrestling picture Barton Fink was having so much trouble trying to write.
Although he's a champ in the ring, international kickboxing champion B.J. Quinn (John Barrett), in the time-honored tradition of boxing pictures, is about to take a fall outside the ring. At a post-bout party after defending his title, Quinn tangles with uppity newcomer Jacques Denard (Brad
Morris) and winds up killing a party guest foolhardy enough to intervene. Quinn does some time in the slammer and comes out stripped of his title and banned from competition. But he hasn't learned his lesson. At another post-bout party he tangles again with Denard. The party guests are smart
enough to stand clear this time, however, and Denard beats a drunk and out-of-shape Quinn senseless. After this mortifying development, Quinn leaves his willowy girlfriend Carol (Terry Norton) behind and hitchhikes out to the beach, where he rents a secluded bungalow. There, he mopes around and
works out listlessly with good buddy and title contender Chad Hunter (Keith Vitali), who's training for a bout with Denard. Hunter and Quinn have a falling out over Quinn's moping and Hunter loses to Denard. After a few more months of moping and being mercilessly taunted by Denard in the press,
through an obnoxious sports reporter Willard (Ted LePlat) feeding his readers' frenzy for those kickboxing headlines, Quinn climbs into the ring with Denard for an unsanctioned cash match and beats him senseless. He also gets back together with his girlfriend.
Barton Fink probably would have done a better job than Emil Kolbe on the script here. He would at least have remembered that a boxing picture needs plenty of drama and, especially, boxing. AMERICAN KICKBOXER 1 has plenty of neither, although Barrett, an international kickboxing champion and
"Chuck Norris's former workout partner," as the film's promotional materials breathlessly proclaim, makes a formidable stretch to play an international kickboxing champion.
It could have used a lot less of Quinn moping and, perhaps, a kill-crazy drug dealer or a mid-film attack by rampaging ninja assassins to spice things up. Instead, when it's not focusing on Quinn's furrowed brow, the film seems earnestly intent upon presenting an expose about how kickboxing is
being ruined by--are you ready for this?--greedy sportswear manufacturers looking to cash in on some poor kid's dreams. It's hard to see what this has to do with Quinn, who never seems to lack for cash and who is of an age that only George Foreman would consider him a kid. As for the boxing, there
are three bouts, one at the beginning, one near the middle and the one at the end, none of them particularly dramatic and all of them lackadaisically choreographed.
Mostly, Fink would have grasped that the best boxing pictures are about hunger. This one's strictly from hunger, a star vehicle built around someone who was once a workout partner for a star. Only in Hollywood ... (Violence, profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: Take away the flying feet and AMERICAN KICKBOXER 1 could be that dull, dreadful Wallace Beery wrestling picture Barton Fink was having so much trouble trying to write. Although he's a champ in the ring, international kickboxing champion B.J. Quinn (John… (more)